I run across these two questions a lot when I speak to people who are looking to build a successful website, “Should I focus on social media or SEO?” or “Which is better social media or SEO?” they ask. The answer in the social media vs SEO debate is simple. It’s simple because the answer is, you should focus on both equally and one is not necessarily better than the other. If you only focus on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr you will find yourself missing out on a significant chunk of your potential audience. Likewise if you only focus on SEO.
Keywords are still a crucial part of searching, people use keywords to find things online — it’s just the way the Internet works. Focusing on just getting people to share your content on Twitter with a headline that grabs people’s attention will generate a nice amount of traffic in the short term, but once it dies down on Twitter, you might never get another visit to that page without thinking about SEO. The way I like to think about social media and SEO is that they compliment each other. Social media is great for short term traffic, while SEO can provide lasting traffic long term traffic. And when paired together correctly social media can even benefit your SEO.
If you aren’t familiar with the way Google has evolved over recent years, there are certain “social media signals” that are changing the search game, however, those signals are not based on the words people use, but rather they are based on the content people share. Now content shared and +1’d on Google+, retweeted on Twitter, and to some extent liked and shared on Facebook are thrown into the mix when it comes to ranking search results. And it makes sense that they would be factoring in these social signals, as it allows great content to bubble up in the search results that might not otherwise be there.
That being said, the Google algorithm has been designed around the idea that links determine value and relevance, and that is still mostly the case.
In fact, despite the explosion in social media, according to SEO and marketing expert Brian Clark, SEO has remained fundamentally the same:
- Discover the language your prospective audience speaks though keyword research
- Spoon feed that language to search engines by gently tweaking your great content
- Build links and social media signals (sharing) in the places that deliver trust and authority
So how do you get the optimal mix of social media and SEO?
For starters, definitely setup social profiles on the major social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Additionally, on Google+ you will definitely want to setup Google Authorship — that will show your photo, Google+ profile, other articles by you, and boost you up a little in Google search results.
If you’re using WordPress, check out the Yoast SEO plugin and take advantage of all of its features such as the focus keyword, SEO title, meta descriptions, social meta descriptions, and sitemaps (make sure you submit your sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools). One other thing you may want to consider is having the Yoast SEO plugin use a URL rewrite to remove the /category/ part of the URL from your WordPress install. This means that instead of seeing www.besttechie.com/category/reviews/, it would simply be www.besttechie.com/reviews/, which is a bit more search engine friendly.
In addition to plugins and social profiles, use a WordPress theme framework such as Genesis or Thesis and build on top of those. Those frameworks are already search engine optimized and can really make a difference. We’ve used both here at BestTechie.
When it comes to creating content, do research on your topic, check what keywords are trending, and tailor your content for your audience. Make sure you have share buttons around your content as well, you want to make it as easy as possible for your audience to share it — if they have to do anything more than click a button or two, it’s too much work.
Do you have any other tips when it comes to utilizing social media and SEO effectively? Leave a comment!