Social media marketing has become (for some of us anyway) the replacement for search engine optimization. Ok, maybe not a replacement, but the best way to achieve the same results.
With search engine optimization you are writing content and promoting your site in an effort to draw the attention of the biggest search engines, namely Google, but also Bing and Yahoo! and anyone else who is crawling sites, cataloguing content. With social media marketing you are marketing directly to the consumer. You are drawing them through social engagement and trying to maximize responses with compelling content and the crafty use of social cues.
With SEO you are trying to get your page to Rank for a specific terms or set of terms. With social media marketing you are trying to get your page recognized for its contribution to their enjoyment of the web. That is not to say SEO is only good for one thing. But you do want to be very specific, definitely more specific about your goals than you would with social media marketing.
Often times, brands think of themselves as the leader in their category and therefore think their website should top Google’s list for queries on generic industry terms. The trouble is, leading an industry offline isn’t the same thing as being the BEST answer for a search query online. Chasing after such terms is very much driven by ego and not unlike a fairy tale of chasing after unicorns where there’s an expectation that being #1 on a single word will magically solve their problems.
However, going after broad industry terms isn’t a complete waste of time. When ego-driven SEO is productive, it’s geared towards building brand reputation and PR value. Of course, by “PR” I mean public relations, not page rank. The affinity and credibility that comes from being in a top position for a generic industry term can add a lot of value to online public relations efforts, recruiting and investor relations.
Achieving top placement on broad keywords can certainly drive a substantial amount of website traffic. In fact, TopRank Marketing has quite a few clients that have top spots for generic industry phrases and some with single word terms sending a good portion of organic search visitors.
In terms of buying cycle, broad queries tend to be “tire kickers” and have value for creating awareness and education but not conversions. And that’s ok, because the search experience isn’t just a single event – especially in B2B or with more sophisticated buying decisions. But brands that want those top spots need to understand what it takes to translate their offline industry dominance to search engines like Google and Bing.
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