The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of SEO via SMO

December 31st, 2009

For years, search engine optimization has been a vitally important part of online marketing. After all, if potential customers can’t find your company, they will never become customers. So with more than a trillion unique URLs available today, how do you best optimize your online presence with search engines?

The traditional and still the best method for creating strong search engine results is by creating valuable content for your target audience on your official website. If the quality of your content is high, they will be glad to share your content. This, of course, can be a very long and tedious process, in that search engine optimization never really stops. As search algorithms and your competitors change, so must your efforts.

A popular tactic is to leverage social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube just to name a few. There are literally thousands of sites that offer distinct services that could be leveraged.

It is important to select the correct sites based on your objectives and target audience. If you are selling a physical product then Facebook may make sense to create brand loyalty. If your organization specializes in thought leadership then a service like SlideShare would make sense since you can post your presentations.

By creating accounts on these services and posting your custom content you can create links to your corporate website and build brand awareness. This can be very advantageous when trying to create quick rankings for your organization. Since these services by default have high relevancy with search, they rank well in search engine results.

However, it’s important to understand that using social media services to create search results isn’t all a bed of digital roses. A search engine’s goal is to present the most relevant results for their users. They ultimately want their algorithms to think as a human would when determining results. If you are posting the same content on multiple social services for the simple goal of showing up under a large number of keywords, you have to ask yourself if those are truly relevant results for a user. Search engines like Google continually change to compensate for these types of techniques.

This means that the tactics you may use today to improve your search engine optimization may not work tomorrow. Unlike the traditional tactics of creating strong content on your primary website the risks of leveraging social media services are much higher. If search engines change their systems, your social media-inspired search engine results may simply disappear.

On top of this, if a user sees a large number of results for a certain company, each coming from a different social media service, this can be viewed as keyword spam. While you may appear on the search results pages this can create a negative impression if it appears too aggressive. If you were to search for pizza in your location, would you want to only see listings for a single establishment?

As with any part of your business you must think about customer experience. Are the experiences you create on these services strong? Will these efforts lead to customer preference or a sale? If not then how can you create an experience that creates value for your target?

With all of the potential pitfalls, when done properly, using social media websites for search engine optimization can be a very powerful tool. Just remember to create consistent and engaging content that readers will share. Use social media to interact in a real way with your customers. Social media avenues are not simply extensions of your corporate presence but rather independent marketing efforts and channels that should be treated with care and focused attention.

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