I see one of these articles every other week, proclaiming the death of SEO. I usually ignore them because they are just headline grabbers. This one annoyed me a little though because it was published The Guardian newspaper and was very blunt in it’s headline “SEO is dead”. No ambiguity there. Whilst the whole premise of SEO being dead is a nonsense, the alternative marketing avenue the article suggests is social media. This displays a fair amount of ignorance into how people use search vs how they use social.
I speak to a lot of businesses who are not that online savvy. Just the other day I was meeting with a manufacturer of springs. The managing director was in his late 50s and had never really used Google that much let alone Facebook. He pretty much lived in an offline world with the exception of email. However he knew he needed to know more about online marketing. I had to explain the differences between social marketing and search marketing and how he could use them for his business. In the light of the The Guardian article I thought it would be a good time to share with you as well. I’m not saying one is better than the other, just that they are very different animals when it comes to marketing your business.
1. Search replaced the phone book.
The power and growth of search is directionally proportional to the dwindling and shrinking of yellow paper directories. This is where search is so powerful from a marketing perspective. The buyer has made a decision and now they are looking for a supplier. It’s that simple.
2. Social is only as strong as the network
Users tap their social networks everyday to get recommendations, ask advice etc. that doesn’t mean they don’t use search. The response you get from your network is only as strong as your network. I have about 9,237 followers on twitter. I could ask them she I use a PNP or an NPN transistor in my next electronics project. How many would respond? When would they respond? Or I could just go and research via Google, find a couple of suppliers then ask some mates via my social network for a recommendation of those suppliers.
3. People find social networks via search
Google these days is the prime navigation tool for the web (excluding mobile). The top two phrases Googled are, Facebook & Youtube. We discover concepts, ideas, products and services through social and research further in search. Social and search for a symbiotic relationship, not a mutually exclusive one.
4. It’s not one or the other
It’s both. We optimise our own content for search and participate in social networks. Search is for people who don’t know who you are. Social is for people that have a relationship with you.
Finally in the butchered words of Mark Twain “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated..”..over emphasised, overdone, magnified, enlarged, overstated..