What’s the Difference Between SEO and SMO?

We’re all relatively comfortable with the term SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. That means loading a bunch of keywords into your website content and blog posts and hoping for the best, right?!? If that’s your definition of SEO, we need to grab a chai sometime and have a quick discussion. While SEO is more geared toward keyword optimization, Google and Bing will significantly penalize your content if it’s too keyword heavy and isn’t relevant for your audience. SMO, on the other hand, is all about optimizing that all-important space that’s front and center with your audience’s eyeballs: social media. See if you can spot the key differences between these two crucial parts of your digital marketing strategy. Hint: Before we dig in, there is one big thing that these two optimization strategies have in common. They both require you to have relevant, compelling and delightful content in order to gain traction.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO strategies are targeted to help boost your website’s ranking on major search engines through a complex structure of rules known only to the engineers developing them. While this may seem daunting to marketers, the reality of how you approach these tactics is much simpler. All you have to do is create an article or webpage that is targeted around a single keyword and make it the very best piece of content on the internet for that topic — easy peasy, right? There are a few additional things that search engines appreciate (and score you well for), including:

  • Highly relevant and updated content
  • Page titles and metadata that describe what’s on the page
  • Content that is mobile friendly
  • A number of links from other credible websites, as this indicates that your website is trusted and influential

Getting SEO wrong can have some serious consequences, up to and including being delisted by Google.

Social Media Optimization

Optimizing your social media presence is one of the best ways to raise awareness without a significant advertising investment. You can build familiarity within your core audience because 71 percent of consumers who have a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that brand to others. Upward of 50 percent of purchases — both online and offline — are influenced by something they’ve learned on social media, making this one of the most attractive ways to sell your products and services to a willing and eager market. You can generate qualified leads, encourage social sharing and increase awareness of your brand with the ultimate goal of generating viral publicity. Each piece of content that is posted to social media has the possibility of engaging a particular audience member, encouraging that person to share the information with friends and family.

Tools of the Trade

SEO and SMO, while most often having the similar purpose of driving people to a website to make a purchase, do utilize different tools to get the job done. With SEO, you’re leveraging best practices for search engines to gain the highest rankings on Google, Bing, YouTube and other major search engines. With SMO, your tools are much more varied and include:

  • Social networking sites
  • RSS feeds
  • Social news and bookmarking sites
  • Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and more

However, the key shared tool that you’ll want to utilize is great content! Pulling together a dynamic website and social media presence can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. When you work with content marketing professionals, you can be sure that you’re always receiving the best possible return on your investment — eyeballs on your site (and sales!). Optimizing both your search engine and your social media presence will help you reach your aggressive marketing goals in 2019 and beyond.

Myca A brings 12 years of director-level marketing, sales and communications experience. She has worked with all sizes and types of organizations from GE Capital Corporation and a $100MM non-profit down to a small local promotional products manufacturer. Her experience in publishing, process improvement, change management, leadership, finance, communications and marketing give her a broad background to draw upon when crafting compelling content. 


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