SEO Becoming SMO

I argue that SEO is becoming social media optimization (SMO). We devote a lot of attention to details to gain high rankings in search engines. Of course, this process is known as organic search engine optimization. But, when people search on a keyword in a search engine are all the search results limited to web pages? No!

A new organic SMO strategy is all about being found on the web by people who want your products or services. It’s great to be found by people doing a Google search. But, I don’t want to limit relevant traffic to my website only to those doing a Google search. I also want people to visit my website who are engaged in online conversations on the social web and visit it simply because of a referral by someone or a link from interesting content on the social web.

When I study my website analytics over the past 30 days I see the top referral source is Google organic, followed by a recent link building blog post on Hubspot and referrals from Twitter and Facebook.

How do I work at organic SEO? I still focus on relevant content and all the SEO basics pertaining to search engine friendly website architecture and organic link building strategies. These SEO fundamentals help get Google rankings which are still very important and very desirable.

But, as evidenced above Google is not the only valid referral source of traffic to my website.

When I find good content on the web I share it with others. On average for every 10 links to good content that I share, 9 of them are links to interesting articles from social media industry experts such as Hubspot, Lee Odden, Andy Beal, Paul Dunay and Chris Brogan among others. About 1 out of 10 links that I share are to my own blog posts because I sincerely believe that I provide interesting content too. I can say this with humility based on comments received from people on the social web.

The point I’m making is that organic optimization on the web is not limited to being found in search engines. Marketers who focus all their attention to being found in Google are potentially limiting their traffic.

This is more true in some industries than others. But, in most industries you’ll find people having online conversations, sharing links to content and generally engaged in communities on the social web. If your organic web strategy includes being engaged and found by these communities then it qualifies as a social media optimization (SMO) strategy.

So what’s your organic web strategy?

15 Comments to SEO Becoming SMO

  1. by Doug Heil December 7, 2008

    Isn't this called social media optimization for a reason? Since it's not search engine optimization; it's SMO, right?

    Your title states this:

    SEO Becoming SMO

    How so, if they are very different parts of marketing?

  2. by Bernie December 7, 2008

    What I'm suggesting is that the "M" in SMO includes search engines. In other words the new media includes search engines.

    When you get results in a search engine they include many types of web content. Social media is not a separate thing. The lines are blurring. People "search" for information in many places on the web, not just search engines.

    Google organic is still my #1 source of referral traffic. But, the other sources are becoming so prominent that I would be foolish to ignore them.

  3. by Alma Gray December 7, 2008

    I agree with you Bernie.

  4. by Sweta December 8, 2008

    I am agree with you that SEO is becoming SMO. This is happening because search engine is also becoming universal search engine. For a search query SE showing results from SM sites also. I think SMO is also the organic way of optimization.

  5. by Bernie Borges December 8, 2008

    I want to emphasize one point to make sure it's clear. I still place the highest priority on Google organic rankings. It is still the #1 referral source for us. But, in second place are other social sources on the web. So, my point is that my view of "search optimization" is not limited to search engines. It includes social media, hence the term SMO.

  6. by Rachel Workman December 8, 2008

    I agree that all are equally important. Right now I'm concentrating on SEO, but that just happens to be at the top of my priority list. I'd love to focus on all at once, but for the time being, our Google search needs the most help.

  7. by Arthur C. Van Wyk December 10, 2008

    I share your sentiments 100%.
    I believe that search engines have their place in the new marketing mix, but should not be the element that hogs the spotlight.

    It is becoming more and more evident what important role social media platforms and communities play in driving traffic and link dissemination.

    I am popularising a category called "Brand Optimization" and a huge part of that involves making my clients known in the socialmediasphere.

    Keep doing what you're doing.

  8. by Peter Caputa December 10, 2008

    Hey Bernie. This is a good conversation to have. I don't think we need to replace the "E" for the "M". But, I certainly agree that traffic goes up when businesses engage in conversation with their industry online. The inbound links that result from this engagement help a business generate traffic and leads directly, as well as increase search rankings. And if it is done with a plan and a purpose, businesses can see that – in conjunction – their SEO, SMO, PPC and blogging create a nice compounding traffic effect. In other words, they all work together to create results greater than their individual sums.

  9. by Jon Mills December 10, 2008

    There is no doubt that just focusing on Google ranking is not enough. It is becoming increasingly more important to get out there and engage people. Let others generate content for you via discussion and benefit from new forms of traffic at the same time. It's a no-brainer. The search engine is now just one of the delivery systems.

  10. by Peter Lunn December 10, 2008

    On SEO and SMO I think that for smart marketers it is definitely a case of 'both and' not 'either/or'.

  11. by Joan Curtis December 13, 2008


    I agree that social marketing is going beyond its original intention (allowing people to find each other). I also agree that SEO is the way to get the word out and sell your products or services.
    The fast changing pace in which people get information is hard to keep up with. SEO one day and SMO the next. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

    Meantime, I'm enjoying the flexibilty of Twitter. It seems more user friendly than LinkedIn.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  12. by Bernie Borges December 14, 2008

    I find it interesting that it took about 10 comments before Twitter was mentioned. What role do guys think Twitter plays in SEO? Is it part of SEO or SMO? Are we getting too hung up on acronyms?

    My clients care only about results (who doesn't). What SEO results can Twitter offer?

    I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

  13. by izreke February 3, 2012

    This is bad news for spamers


  1. Should SEO Become SO?
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