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Social Media is Not SEO

I am starting to get irritated and/or disturbed when I hear/see/read people discussing how Social Media is the same as SEO or Social Media is replacing SEO or that Social Media and SEO are twins. I don’t agree with any of it.

Some of the Things SEO is Focused on Include:

  • A Website
  • Coding and Structure
  • Layout
  • Goals
  • Algorithms
  • Research
  • Competitive Intelligence
  • Keywords
  • Local Search and Universal Search
  • Conversion
  • Rankings
  • Link Building

SEO and your website are the foundation of everything you do online.

Social Media is One Thing Tha Supports the SEO, Website and Marketing Plan!

  • Social Media can engage potential customers, but it is suppose to push them to a website to convert (a website with a foundation in SEO).
  • Social Media can and should drive traffic to a website”¦again, a site with SEO as its foundation.
  • Social Media can be an ORM vehicle and can help create a substantial web presence, yet the goals are often to send people to a website for a conversion of some type.
  • Social Media is used to advertise the services of a business and often link to the services pages or an article/post about a service on a website. It markets the foundation.

I am fully aware that Social Media is influencing the search engine algorithms, but we have no precise formula on how this works and even if we did I will NEVER believe it can replace the foundation every business needs, an optimized website.


SEO and Social Media ARE NOT Equal

Social Media is great. I love it and enjoy it and I am active in it, but it is dangerous to start announcing or believing that Social Media is in any way equal to SEO. SEO and your website are your foundation! Everything else a business does online is there to support that foundation, to drive traffic to the foundation and to convert through the foundation.

Imagine a website as the trunk of a tree. There are several branches on this tree and social media may account for 10-15% of them, but there are many other branches that complete the tree. You may choose a variety of avenues to advertise online with, but with all of them you must keep in mind that the website and the SEO are the trunk that supports and holds it all together.


Editors Note; interestingly, Melissa wasn’t even aware of the other post we had on search and social last week. Something is in the water cooler around here methinks.



  1. Dean January 25, 2011

    The great thing about Social Media is it’s a huge buzz word for small business owners, they are hearing all the buzz about it and it opens up doors for SEO companies that embrace it.

    The great thing about social media is it’s now turned into a tool for SEO companies to use, because it helps in a lot of aspects of SEO.

    Social media is so much more than a Facebook page that you setup and forget, and SEO’s who are well versed in it can really take advantage of this tool to get their feet in the door.

    That said I totally agree with you, social media by itself is not SEO. Great post.

  2. Thos003 January 25, 2011

    Thanks Melissa! Great post… I was feeling a little perturbed when I posted my fake social media score card a week ago.. .. it was like URRGGHHHH!! AAAAAHHHHH! Enough with the Social media hype! 😡

    But you pulled it off much nicer than I did. Your website is absolutely the core, the trunk, of your online efforts. Awesome analogy.

    For me it’s even one more step removed, as a small business pest control guy my core is pest control. Website and SEO are tools in helping the pest control business do better, but they are not the driving force. They are not even the main element in our success. They are supplemental.

    … Again. Great post. I feel like I am only repeating what you’ve already outlined.

  3. Mike Halvorsen January 25, 2011

    Well put Melissa. There has been a lot of talk about how Social Media is the new SEO and it frustrates the hell out of me. They are separate disciplines.

  4. Ioana Radian January 26, 2011

    Hear, hear!
    There is something I have to disagree with though: SEO is not the foundation of a website, good information architecture and content strategy are. When SEO is done on a website it is mixed with this basis and it becomes part of the foundation, but that doesn’t mean SEO in itself is the foundation. That’s giving the search engines way too much credit…

  5. Melissa January 26, 2011

    Thank you Dean and Thos003!

    Mike I agree with your completely.

    Toana, I did say a couple of times “SEO and your website are the foundation of everything you do online.” I think in today’s world they go hand in hand; if we have differing opinions that it is totally cool. Thank you for commenting 🙂

  6. Ioana January 26, 2011

    I do believe they go hand in hand as well. I just don’t think SEO should be placed on the same level as the website itself. It’s still a way of promoting a website, the difference between it and promoting through social media, as you admirably pointed at in your article, being that SEO is entwined with everything else, while social media promotion is always in the exterior.

    To use your imagery, SEO would not be an original part of the trunk, but a graft (a scion it seems it’s called). Optimizing a website is pretty much like grafting: one tries to make a plant better. One alters it substantially. Social media promotion is like fertilizer, it’s great for helping growth but doesn’t actually change the plant. Sorry if it’s too horticultural…

  7. Melissa January 27, 2011

    Ioana, I think part of what I am trying to get across, and may have failed to do so, is that SEO is more than a part of a site. REAL SEO begins before the site is created and is completely focused on the things I listed above:

    [list][*]Coding and Structure

    SEO is more than keywords or marketing; today it is about the site itself first then you move into the optimization of keywords and marketing. So from my perspective the SEO and website are together the trunk 🙂

  8. Eldad Sotnick-Yogev January 28, 2011

    I agree and disagree as the point is that SEO is definitely crucial but you can use Social Media to bolster it.

    What I think constantly gets glossed over, and the root of the frustration, is that Social can be the link building strategy. This clearly isn’t real SEO as Social in no way focuses on optimising a site as you outline so nicely above. But you do list link building in that list and so….Social can be effective SEO. Just ask Howie Schwartz he’s been doing that for years

  9. Dean Cruddace January 28, 2011

    (not the original commenter Dean grrr)

    If I stick a flyer under your wiper, it won`t help you find my site, it will just make you aware of it.

    Now try finding my site for that flyer you have just lost?

    Focused SEO will do this for you, SM is a whole seperate discipline.

  10. Doc January 29, 2011

    Great post, Melissa. I see where you’re coming from, and agree. SM is just one more tool in our kit. Like each tool, it requires different skills, and provides different benefits, but all can help get the job done.

  11. Otimizar Site February 2, 2011

    Great post Melissa. Indeed, I’ve read many articles stating that Search Engines are now using social media on their ranking algorithms.

  12. white label seo July 8, 2011

    I beg to differ, social media is a great way to promote your site. Google has even recently made its own platform to penetrate the social media market.

  13. Social Promotion October 21, 2011

    I agree that it helps if you are first on the first page of Google for a popular search, but Google changes it’s algorithms every single day. Do you know how many people were affected by the Panda thing? While the same could be said about the popularity of social media sites, one thing is certain, it’s not going away, it’s where people spend most of their time online, and to ignore it would be very foolish, especially since all evidence says that it does play a very important role in rankings. I’ve read that a number of top internet marketers have doubled their traffic within months just from being active on Google Plus. That’s where I came from.

  14. web design December 28, 2011

    In many ways, those responsible for search engine optimization provide invaluable assistance to support Google’s ““ and other search engines ““ stated objective of organizing the web’s content.
    By adopting various best practices, SEOs improve discovery and help their organizations create more relevant websites. Most importantly, SEOs are extremely results obsessed ““ as measured by page rank, backlinks, traffic, and a litany of website analytics.

  15. seo perth January 4, 2012

    “Social Media is One Thing That Supports the SEO, Website and Marketing Plan” That is right, but truth be told, Social Media can stand on its own as it can act as a virtual word of mouth marketing that has proven to be effective.

  16. seo reseller April 3, 2012

    Let’s admit it. Social media is one of the most powerful tools that help the work of the seo teams easier and faster. It is the social media that gives the power to every single word that we research for our niches and websites. In order for the SEO techniques and strategies to be successful, it is essential for every SEO expert to practice correct and legal strategies. SEO is a big world but it becomes smaller if black hat schemes are to be practiced.

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