Is It SEO or Is It Social Media?


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There is a popular term in social media circles that “social is the new SEO.” The relationship between being active in social media and how it affects your search engine optimization cannot be denied, especially with the emergence of the Google +1 button and Google+. The issue on hand, however, is that social media marketing and search engine optimization should be two completely disciplines, but some of the latter discipline experts feel that social is becoming an important part of their role.

A recent SEOmoz post pointed out how the responsibilities of SEO have been upgraded. There were 12 different responsibilities for the new SEO practitioner, who has now been labeled an “organic web strategist.” The interesting part is how half of these responsibilities might be perceived as falling into the camp of many a social media strategist:

  • Content Strategy
  • Content Creation
  • Social Media Promotion
  • Social Network Reach
  • Community Management
  • Reputation Tracking (SM Monitoring)

The approaches between search engine optimization and social media marketing are intrinsically different. SEO is an art that helps to technically improve your chances for the right content of yours being found in search engines for the terms your customers are probably searching for. Social media marketing, however, is about engaging with other people on social platforms through communication and providing shareable information. There is no technical way to optimize your socializing with present and potential customers, so the approach taken by an SEO agency and a social media agency towards social is going to be fundamentally different. While SEO is clearly focused on search engines, social media marketing is concentrating on social websites.

The need for SEO, especially on-site search engine optimization, has not and will not lessen in importance. But having a deep understanding of social media websites and being effective in communicating and managing both shareable content and conversations with customers require skill sets that might not exist with your traditional search engine optimization practitioner.

The debate between SEO and social media will only intensify with the emergence of Google+, and the truth is that both are necessary to help the marketing efforts of any given company who needs an online presence. Understanding the approaches taken by each practitioner will give you a better idea as to which type of agency or employee you might want to hire to help out with your social media.

Now it’s your turn: Would you classify the above 6 responsibilities as search engine optimization or social media?

And if you want to see me speak on the issue, see my Social 5150 video below. Thanks!

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Neal,

    Great post on the future of search engine optimization. At gShift Labs – we call it Web Presence Optimization or one could call it Web Presence Management. It includes everything that you have talked about above and if it was job description then the individual would be responsible for both social and seo.

    A company must have a web presence and it includes: web site, blog, press releases, YouTube Channel, Facebook Page, Google+ page, Linkedin Company Page, (soon to be) Socl page from Microsoft, Twitter, and many many other social / bookmarking services like StumbleUpon, Delicious and Reddit.

    By publishing content via social streams, a company can produce signals. Signals can be considered “new-age” backlinks and these signals provide search engines like Google with the information they need to determine domain authority or relevance of your piece of content – and ultimately, if that web page would rank in the top 10 or not.

    For more on Web Presence Optimization:

    Chris Adams
    Co-founder & CTO
    gShift Labs


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