Before we continue with the other steps of the “Online Marketing Road Map”, let’s explore the question of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) versus Social Media Marketing in an effective online marketing strategy. In an ideal scenario, the two would work in conjunction with one another, leading to huge amounts of traffic to your website or blog, but pragmatically there’s a need to understand the real difference between the two, in order to understand how they can both be used in your online marketing arsenal.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is process of manipulating your web property, in this case your website or blog, in a way that makes it “friendly” to search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc., so that when certain terms that are relevant to site are searched, your website’s pages come up within the results. How a particular engine decides how to rank their results often includes a constantly evolving search algorithm, however there are a series of “SEO Best Practices” that help web designers create websites that contain many of the elements to ensure that they’re properly categorized by search engines, which directly affects how those engines will ultimately display their results. SEO, though a lengthy process, is the best investment you can make in constructing your website, because when done well, it can continually bring organic (i.e. “non-paid/ad-generated”) web traffic to your site for many years to come. (See “How Search Engines Work (Part 1): The Fundamentals of Online Marketing” to learn more)
By contrast, Social Media Marketing is the process of driving traffic to your website through social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, tumblr, etc. Though there is certainly a strategy that exists within Social Media Marketing to make it effective for online marketing, the biggest difference between it and SEO is that most social media marketing occurs outside of web properties that you own, likely on the platforms that ultimately own the medium (e.g. Facebook Pages). For this reason, Social Media Marketing can tricky because at any given time, these platforms can change their “Terms of Service“, and if you’ve relied too heavily on them, this can negatively affect your business, causing you to lose friends, fans, connections, and followers.
The bottom line in SEO vs. Social Media Marketing is the question of ownership and the control in which you have to guide and promote the direction of your brand and online activities. While several social networking platforms allow much latitude in how they can be used, there’s always the tacit understanding that they (the networks) hold the power of when, where, and how to their platforms are utilized. When you own your own “platform” (or website) you lessen the chances of losing your hard earned online marketing leads and connections.
In later steps of “The Online Marketing Road Map”, we’ll specifically delve into both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing, and show you exactly how each can work together in your online marketing efforts. For now, it’s best to look at SEO as the core strategy for delivering long-term traffic to your site, then augment that strategy with social media marketing efforts that helps you build up a dedicated cadre of fans, intent to spread the good word about your brand through technology-driven word-of-mouth marketing.
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