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Thread: Social Media, Search & A Shrinking Web

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    Franc Tireur is offline Senior Net Builder
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    Social Media, Search & A Shrinking Web

    Is the web shrinking? It is according to Ben Elowitz, founder and CEO of WetPaint. He recently wrote a very interesting guest post for AllThingsD about this topic, and we decided to pick his brain a little bit more.
    “People are spending more time on Facebook and less time on the rest of the web,” he tells WebProNews. “If you look at the total amount of time people spent on Facebook from March 2010 to March 2011, it grew 69%. And if you look at the total amount of time people spent on the rest of the web, it fell 9%. This was staggering to me and it highlighted the critical importance of understanding and using the social web in an intelligent way. ”
    So, what does it all mean for SEO? Will social media visibility become more critical than search visibility? Is this already the case?
    “Over the last decade, there has been only one great distributor of traffic; and the vast majority of digital media companies have done everything they can to please that deity in the hopes of earning more traffic,” says Elowitz. “But that was then; things have changed dramatically.”
    “Investing in SEO will not help build the most important long-term value, which is a strong and loyal relationship with your audience. Given the rise of the social web, there is a huge opportunity for publishers to develop relationships directly with users and this will help the company massively long-term. This is why SMO (social media optimization) is more critical than SEO and why at Wetpaint we do not invest significantly in SEO. We know that if you focus all of your energies on winning in social, you will receive a halo effect from search.”
    He claims the Wetpaint Entertainment media property still generates over 50% of its traffic from search with no SEO team, employee or consultant on staff.
    Social Media, Search & A Shrinking Web | WebProNews

    Here is the original article The Shrinking of the Non-Social Web - Ben Elowitz - Voices - AllThingsD

    It seems like it is going to be the end of SEO.
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

    Voltaire


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    memenode's Avatar
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    If there's going to be an end of SEO it's going to be gradual, and it will probably remain useful for a few niches. Then again, like the quoted part says Social Media Optimization has a halo effect of SEO benefits, which is no surprise considering that search engines themselves are reorienting themselves to fit the social media paradigm, so we may see this halo effect be more and more pronounced.

    Like I said before, I like this trend personally, simply because I find more meaning in social relationships than in those short lived connections we often get from search engines. I suspect a lot of other people feel the same, which may be part of what's fueling this trend. There are connections between data which are useful, and they are always going to be there, but what really matters to us are relationships, and all this connected data are just there to fit that larger context. So the web is evolving to meet us as who we are as whole human beings, not just mere robotic data consumers. The web is beginning to connect our feelings towards each other and stuff we love or hate, not just our technical needs of the moment.

    This really sums up the problems we had with building a community on a site that's built just about 100% on the direct match to search terms SEO kind of approach:

    Search offers a utility relationship, connecting users to content for the briefest of transactions; typically, it provokes users to just one pageview so they can find a piece of information, and then they move on.
    They move on. And when your whole audience is these people caught by your site with this mindset, good luck convincing them to stick around and form a community.

    As for the rest of the web shrinking I don't think that's so much a problem with the social media paradigm as much as with the current implementation of it. Social media may at some point evolve into something more decentralized or otherwise better conducive to the rest of the web. Then again, I can find positives in this issue just as it is. For example, it seemed like anyone can start a blog and compete with us, but nowadays it seems most people who might have such self-expressive ambitions might just be sucked into doing it on Facebook, and skip the whole "starting a blog" business. This means less content for us to compete with.

    EDIT: I forgot to add that when the goal is to build relationships (SMO) as opposed to just traffic (SEO), I think more monetization opportunities open up, beyond just advertising. Relationships imply more than just eyeballs and attention. I imagine it might be easier to do affiliate marketing with social audiences, for example. If they trust you already (as opposed to you being just another random search result to slurp some benefit from and go away), you'll have an easier time pitching stuff to them, so long as you don't overdo it and this stuff is actually relevant to their interests (which you'll more likely have better access to than you ever had through search engines and their analytics).

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    iowadawg's Avatar
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    A company that got smart and realized that SEO is no longer the hot deal for getting traffic.
    Yes, SMO is the future.

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    Franc Tireur is offline Senior Net Builder
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    Quote Originally Posted by iowadawg View Post
    A company that got smart and realized that SEO is no longer the hot deal for getting traffic.
    Yes, SMO is the future.
    SMO is a double edged sword, because when something goes wrong for example with a product everybody knows (and not necessarily people interested in buying this paticular product) it just gives a bad reputation. I have seen this happen to a large retailer on Facebook, it was pretty sad to see the CSR trying to ask customers to call their departement to determine which lot it was.

    I really don't like how this system works, because it can happen to anyone.
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Natural Elements View Post
    SMO is a double edged sword, because when something goes wrong for example with a product everybody knows (and not necessarily people interested in buying this paticular product) it just gives a bad reputation. I have seen this happen to a large retailer on Facebook, it was pretty sad to see the CSR trying to ask customers to call their departement to determine which lot it was.

    I really don't like how this system works, because it can happen to anyone.
    To me that just sounds like it enforces greater accountability. Reputation is a powerful way of keeping businesses honest and striving for their best. I think if a business has a good track record, an occasional mishap wont ruin them.

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    iowadawg's Avatar
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    From day one when the internet happened, there have always been people that gripe and whine about a company or product.
    Nothing new there.
    So SMO is not a killer to any company or product if they are legit and good.
    Regardless of the negative postings, etc.

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    Franc Tireur is offline Senior Net Builder
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    Quote Originally Posted by iowadawg View Post
    From day one when the internet happened, there have always been people that gripe and whine about a company or product.
    Nothing new there.
    That's right there will be always people complaining about something, it is in the human nature.
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

    Voltaire


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    People who say that SEO is dying are simply trying to get people to link to them which, in itself, is a SEO practice. How fascinating, right?

    SEO won't ever die so long as there is the concept of a search engine. So long as there are Googles and Bings and all of those sites, there is always going to be SEO. What we are going to see, though, with the arrival of Panda is a tremendous increase in the quality of the websites that are doing well in the search engines.

    There is always going to be a need for people to optimize a website, develop content strategies, increase the link portfolio and maximize conversions. A good SEO these days does more than just spam people for links. A good SEO focuses on a few important things:

    • On-site optimization to ensure that each page is working well for specific keywords. Search engines are gaining in the number of people searching each year, not losing, so keywords are still important.
    • On-site optimization to ensure that, when someone comes to the webpage, there is a way to convert them into a lead whether it be with a newsletter, social media or something else.
    • Maximizing the exposure to the site through social media to demonstrate that the general population finds the site is important.
    • Develop a content strategy that will ensure people are finding the site for new keywords and to increase, once again, social media exposure.


    You've got SEO, CRO and SMO. It's all SEO, just with different acronyms. Optimizing for social media is STILL optimizing for search engines. And, when you are optimizing for search engines, you are really optimizing for the traffic that comes from search engines. SEO is not dead and won't ever be dead unless Google or Bing cease to exist.

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    memenode's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mafiamaster View Post
    You've got SEO, CRO and SMO. It's all SEO, just with different acronyms. Optimizing for social media is STILL optimizing for search engines. And, when you are optimizing for search engines, you are really optimizing for the traffic that comes from search engines. SEO is not dead and won't ever be dead unless Google or Bing cease to exist.
    Right now this might make sense, but I'm not sure that social media optimization necessarily falls under SEO. If the goal of SMO is very specifically to attract a social media following and traffic that comes directly from that, then it doesn't really have anything to do with search engines. There may be an incidental SEO benefit, but it wasn't the purpose of SMO.

    I agree SEO wont die, but it's still possible for it to fade in importance a little as search engines themselves cease being the only or primary way of getting to relevant information. There are always going to be things for which search engines may be the best solution, but the number of such things may be decreasing.

    In any case, I don't think SEOs should necessarily feel threatened by the rise of SMO if it is happening. Watching trends, figuring out what's going on and adapting is a core part of their business so they should be able to adapt to SMO. It is still optimization, just the variables being optimized for have changed. Besides, when search engines are adopting some of the social signals, many of the variables are becoming similar. Ultimately SEO should become about optimizing for people, not bots, and that's what seems to be the general trend, largely influenced by the social media penetration.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mafiamaster View Post
    Develop a content strategy that will ensure people are finding the site for new keywords and to increase, once again, social media exposure.

    Quote Originally Posted by memenode View Post
    Right now this might make sense, but I'm not sure that social media optimization necessarily falls under SEO.


    If the goal of SMO is very specifically to attract a social media following and traffic that comes directly from that, then it doesn't really have anything to do with search engines. There may be an incidental SEO benefit, but it wasn't the purpose of SMO.


    I agree SEO wont die, but it's still possible for it to fade in importance a little as search engines themselves cease being the only or primary way of getting to relevant information.

    SEO is in decline. But, the ground lost is going into marketing and more so to Search Engine Marketing. Most people use SEO/SEM interchangeably. Perhaps we should call the hybridization of the two field: "SEO Marketing"


    Quote Originally Posted by iowadawg View Post
    A company that got smart and realized that SEO is no longer the hot deal for getting traffic.
    Yes, SMO is the future.

    At this stage of the game it makes sense to use a mix of social cues and links. Links may even be more valid to rank non-commercial pages.

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