I feel this article might be combustible, but I have been itching to write it up for some time now.
I’ll get right to the point … Social media should make companies rethink budget allocations for SEO. I suggest they re-shift their SEO budget to social media. Yeah, many of you will think this is self-serving, but hear me out …
First, I want to clearly state that SEO is important and should not be ignored. I am simply suggesting that no budget should be allocated to SEO. I’ll get to my SEO suggestions in a bit, but let me start by addressing why I suggest social media capture the budget:
1) SEO is push; social media is pull. That is, your company is “pushed” to an audience via search. If you use social media correctly and provide valuable information and content to your audience, you will be “pulled” to them.
2) As social media becomes more prevalent, people will rely on their friends and network for recommendations as opposed to using search. Case in point … I needed new tires for my car. I asked my friend who always seems to get the best deals where to go. He recommended tirerack.com (never heard of them before, but I do now recommend them to you). I go to the tirerack website and find that the tires on my car are priced at $105 a pop and get a poor customer rating. I find another tire that I never heard of (Kumho) at $75 each and very good rating. I ended up buying 4 Kumhos and they are working out great. No search used, just socialization to find where to go and then I look for customer reviews to help me make my buying decision.
3) A good social media implementation delivers increased search rankings. This is probably the most important point. If you administer a winning social media program, the natural residual result delivers your SEO. In Michael Stelzner survey/report, “Social Media Marketing Industry Report – How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses,” 52% of the surveyed respondents sighted “help us rise in the search rankings” as one of the benefits of social media.
If you look at the first two benefits (“generated exposure for my business” and “increased my traffic/subscribers/opt-in list”), these are the exact benefits SEO looks to increase. You can have it all with social media.
To further highlight how social media naturally increases your search ranking, listen to this … I was talking to someone I recently met and he was telling me about how his social media efforts were targeting influencers in his space. The specific social media campaign was aimed at attracting some of the most respected newspapers and magazines (yes print, not online). They were successful … the Wall Street Journal and Business Week both did a blurb on his site and mentioned their URL. This drove traffic to their site and as a result of all the traffic, increased their search ranking – a winning double whammy.
So you get your search ranking anyway! Social media should be your priority.
As I first mentioned, this is not to say that you should ignore SEO, BUT are you really going to pay an “expert” to do this for you? Google’s ranking algorithm is tightly guarded. It might be the only trade secret more guarded than the Coca-Cola formula. If no one really knows the algorithm, what is an “expert”? The best source (and it is FREE) for SEO suggestions is http://www.top10seotips.com/. There are other good ones as well. Here, Steve Wiideman has 10 simple tips that a web developer and marketing manager can implement collaboratively. He also provides other suggestions.
You want to win using the web – I suggest you have a social media plan that is integrated with your marketing and operations plans as well as a simple SEO implementation. The expert required is someone who can provide the bridge between your marketing and operations plan to a social media implementation, not an SEO expert (and for that matter, not one labeling oneself a “social media expert”).
I realize that SEO is a strong “spend” industry and thus I have really stirred some controversy, but if we as marketers are going to be accountable and take a leadership role in driving measurable success, we must spend wisely and deliver maximum results – even if initially unpopular.