SEO and Social Media have never been more closely tied together than they have been in the last 18 months, but are they in collaboration or competition? What has become very clear has been how the roles of an SEO manager and that of a Social Media manager have started to overlap and agencies now find themselves in a predicament where there may be too many cooks in the kitchen.
For example, in the SEO world, link building is fairly self-explanatory – build high quality links on high authority sites based on keywords so that your client’s website is being ranked highly by Google. In the Social Media world, blogger outreach or online PR, is creating relationships with influencers in order to create brand awareness, distribute content and form thought leadership. The key similarity here is that they both work to improve visibility, the SEOer through link generation and the Social Media manager through engagement.
However, where they tend to differ is the techniques and tactics used to get to this end goal. Traditionally, the SEO consultant’s weapons of choice are the mass emailer, the phone and cash. The Social Media manager’s choice are Twitter, Facebook and an awful lot of talking, followed by some praise, followed by some sharing and then more talking. It might be said (and I said might) that SEOers view Social Media tactics as too time consuming, too wasteful and very indirect. Social Media managers might view SEO tactics as spammy, rushed and very short term focused.
Whilst this has been the case in the past and in some agencies still, this isn’t the way that we do SEO or Social Media at Blueclaw. SEO and Social don’t need to compete against each other; you can yield far greater results when these two collaborate.
Content is the sweet spot
The common ground that they both have is content. Content is the lifeblood of any Social Media activity, it’s what drives traffic onto your site, it’s what creates conversation and it’s how Social Media managers can show ROI. If a brand is tweeting without content on a regular basis then it’s not really providing any benefit to the brand (unless of course it’s a niche account created for a specific purpose like customer service). Changes to the Google algorithm have radically made content an influential factor in their rankings. SEOers now have to think less about the links they want and more about what content they need to produce in order to generate those links. For both it isn’t about just creating content for the sake of creating content – but it’s ensuring that what is being created is actually good – something that will be shared, rank highly and ultimately provide ROI.
At Blueclaw, we always start all of our activity with both SEO and Social Media. SEO focuses on the keywords based on keyword research; Social Media focuses on the audience by undertaking a Social Media audit. With these two pieces of insight, we can then create an incredibly powerful strategy that should ensure that any content produced is SEO and Social Media ready. Not only can we create content that understands the audiences themes and topics, tone of voice and channel, but we can create with both a keyword and audience driven content.
The fusion of link building & outreach
Take link building/outreach as another example. As bloggers and webmasters have become more savvy to best practices, traditional mass mail spam to try and win links are no longer as effective. SEO link builders have had to change their tactics in order to keep generating links – they work more like Social Media managers, develop a relationship, be personable and paying more attention to the little details (e.g. their site, their audience, their tone, their industry – even their name).
Building a great link for SEO requires just a little bit more time, effort and understanding of the target’s site/blog. Equally, Social Media managers are pushed more to think about whether the content they are creating is optimal for SEO – anchor text, link profile and domain authority are now just as relevant as influence, followers and network in their vocabulary. Content marketing is essentially this combination – it’s always been about content, just perhaps never bundled together as one service and one philosophy. Social works to create the engagement of content and SEO ensures that content is found in the right places, but most importantly – both work together to ensure that the content is right for the business, audience and the web as a whole.
If your SEO and Social Media are integrated together then the chances of success (whether that be link generation or social signals) will always be higher. There will always be a need for SEO or Social Media specialists, after all this is an industry that is constantly changing and you can’t expect everybody to be trying to keep up to date. However, the roles, duties and understanding of SEO managers and Social Media managers have to be closer together and crucially, you can’t keep these teams apart.