Or is there even such a game?
Since social joined the online world a few years ago, many marketers and agencies have taken different stances on search engine optimization. SEO practitioners maintain that their craft will always be relevant and that it is more important than ever today. Supporters of social, meanwhile, celebrate the rise of Facebook and other networks, claiming that “SEO is dead.” And so began the “Search vs. Social” debate.
But in all of this, what some people do not recognize is that neither side is actually fighting the other.
The ‘Classic’ Question Asked
Perhaps the most asked question among relatively new online marketers our CEO encounter and provide advice on is: “Is SEO dead?” It’s almost like a “classic” question, sparking an endless debate among passionate social and search practitioners throwing mud from their siloes. But you can’t blame agencies and resellers for having reservations on SEO nowadays.
Much of doubt on the life and importance of search engine optimization today has to do with the emergence of social as a valid approach to online marketing. Agencies have begun offering social media optimization services (even we at Endlessrise have them). Google launched its own social network in Google+. And even Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam team, admitted that they are now paying more attention to social signals such as likes, shares, and tweets.
But is all this enough to actually “kill” SEO? Is all this even meant to replace search with social?
The ‘Classic’ Question Answered
Mani Karthik, search marketing manager at Citrix Online, has a very interesting answer in his blog post. “SEO is not dead – it has evolved,” he declared. In a nutshell, Karthik argued that search is merely incorporating social, even though the incorporation is not yet 100%. Apparently, SEO is absorbing social’s “goodness and filtering out all the noise.” Social, is therefore, only adding value to search.
“To clarify, and to circle back to where I started – if you think SEO is dead, then social media, too, will be dead in a couple of years. My point is that neither of them is dying or dead,” the SEO expert said, and he has a point.
Why Search is Absorbing Social
Like Karthik noted, search is always evolving to offer the best possible experience for the user. This means looking for the best answer to whatever query the user has. Prior to the emergence of social, search has always relied on links to determine the trustworthiness of websites. Users want answers from trustworthy sites. More links on website = more trustworthy = higher search ranking = users happy with trustworthy results. Then… social came into the picture.
People started interacting socially via the web more than ever, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. In a way, people’s expectations of search results also changed – they expected to see more than just the “most linked to” sites.
“So, from this perspective, SEO is ‘dead’ – that is, SEO as we knew it years ago,” said Karthik, who also runs the DailySEOBlog. So again, the point here is that search is always here to stay. It is merely evolving and the ones who will benefit from the changes are those who are able to adapt to the changes quicker. “The smart marketer will be the one who’ll catch up to the bots and think like one,”
The Real Game: Search AND Social
Today, it is not “search vs. social” but rather “search AND social”; that is the real game. Search and social should not be perceived as two opposing teams, but rather, as two complementing players from the same team. Social should be seen as a teammate that adds value to search, and not as an opponent that is out to knock it off the perch.
The expression “two heads are better than one” seems fit for today’s online marketer, agency, or reseller. One can no longer ignore social, and one still cannot overlook search. As an agency or a reseller, you can help clear the smoke for clients who have heard about the “search vs. social” debate. Remember, search is merely evolving to accommodate social and not one is taking over the other.
Search engines paying more attention to social signals also means you can help your clients launch campaigns from both ends. You can assist them in optimizing their website from the SEO side, and then from the SMO side – both approaches help it rank in search engine results. As an agency or a reseller, you must be there to offer both services; empowering your clients to market their business online through a combined SEO and social media approach.
As an Endlessrise partner, you’re in the perfect position to address your clients’ SEO and SMO needs. We even tweaked our SEO packages recently to ensure they are up to date with the latest search engine ranking factors. See our wide range of white label online marketing services, which include SEO and Social Media Optimization. Endlessrise is the pioneer and leader in the white label online marketing industry, helping agencies and consultants deliver online marketing services.