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March 16, 2010

Social Marketing Versus Generic SEO – What’s The Difference?

There are many different methods of marketing your business website, on-line shop or e-commerce website, but for many business owners there seems to be a bit of confusion between what is considered generic back link building and what is a true social marketing campaign, and more to the point what is the aim of each marketing strategy?

Different SEO and web marketing companies will of course employ different methodologies to promote a site and more often than not you get what you pay for so to speak. Equally there is bound to be a crossover in campaign strategies the debate of which could go on for months, but the purpose of this article is to highlight the key differences and aims of each type of campaign not what any single campaign should contain.

Generic Search Engine Marketing

Typically the aim of a generic search engine marketing campaign (SEM) is to develop relevant and targeted anchor text back links to specific pages on your website to increase your site’s link profile and authority in the eyes
of the search engines.

This of course is all aimed at improving your website ranking and to ensure your website becomes “known” in the search engines for the particular key phrases you are most interested in ranking for.

Low level or cheap link building services often include article marketing, content distribution and directory submissions, although most professional SEO practioners will probably dismiss directory submissions as the quality of these links is generally very poor at best and sometimes dubious also.

Low level or cheap link building services can also take advantage of what have become known as social websites; typically these are in the form of blogs and other Web 2.0 properties and even low level social bookmarking sites. Forum posting just for the sake of links would also fall under this category.

The quality of budget link building services can vary wildly but they are not to be sneezed at though, as in many cases especially in less competitive or tight niches, they can prove to be very effective indeed and are often all that is needed to rank a site well.

Social Marketing Campaigns

Social marketing campaigns are quite different to generic search engine marketing campaigns although there can be a degree of crossover in many cases. A true social marketing campaign is much more focussed to generating leads and brand awareness as well as meeting the targeted marketplace in its own backyard.

A social marketing campaign however is also generally considered to be much further up the evolutionary tree of link building so to speak and while it will still develop and reward you with good quality back links to your site, social marketing campaigns are generally of much higher quality in both their make up and also can require a significant amount of planning and preparation.

Typically social marketing campaigns will take advantage of prime and highly focussed Web 2.0 properties and business networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Ecademy and so on, as well as other complementary web sites and social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit and to name but a few.

The aim of a good social marketing campaign is not to specifically develop back links per se (although this is bound to happen) but to develop either brand or business awareness in a defined market place where the products or services you or your company supply will or could be in demand.

It is also to establish you or your company as an industry authority, go to person or trusted advisor, or even a business that can help other people solve their own problems or critical business issues by the provision of quality goods and services.

The Downside of Social Marketing Campaigns

While the advantages of a social marketing campaign are undeniable, there are a number of downsides which it pays to be acutely aware of.

The main downside of social marketing campaigns is the sheer amount of time and work that needs to be maintained to develop a business’s authority or profile across many sites.

These types of campaigns are very hands-on and involve ongoing social networking and subtle promotion of a business or brand as well as the generation of useful/helpful relevant content either for general publication or for posting on your own site as quality information pages or blog posts, or as donated content for other complementary sites that are not in direct competition to your own.

It may be for example that you want to develop a profile on forums relevant to the markets you are trying to penetrate by posting quality useful help and advice (not just a link post), but if not kept up-to-date or live these profiles can quickly lose ground and your on-line identity will fade.

Most businesses pursuing social marketing campaigns as an ongoing strategy will be spending at least 10-20 hours plus a week in one form or another and although this can be outsourced (often at considerable cost), typically this is done in-house by either the business owner or the marketing person, primarily because the business has the internal product or service expertise to maintain a long term focus and generate quality content.

What Is Right For Your Business?

The correct or most successful strategy required for each business will vary tremendously which is why most SEO professionals will not even conduct a web marketing campaign
without some form of initial consultancy or competitive market assessment.

If time is not one of your assets or your budget is tight, then a generic link building campaign may be all that is affordable to you, but if you are in a competitive market and serious about your on-line business then it simply does not make good business sense to second guess your requirements.

Bite the bullet and employ the services of an SEO consultant even if only for initial consultancy as the advice you receive more often than not will be highly beneficial to the success of your on-line venture.

Author: Dave Talbot: Search engine marketing and website promotion is an essential ingredient for any on-line business. For affordable SEO marketing and link building services visit

20 Responses to “Social Marketing Versus Generic SEO – What’s The Difference?

    avatar Sam Langdon says:

    Nice article – clearly defines social versus SEO.

    I think it’s also worth considering the optimisation of search within the social marketing channels you mention though.

    I recently wrote an article about how to do that, in combination with SEO – I’ve called it Combined Search Optimision:

    avatar Darlene says:

    I am new to the internet marketing and found this article cleared up so many questions in my mind. Light bulbs were going off in my head as I read on: oh that is what that means.

    Thank you…

    avatar Peter Graves says:

    I must say that to describe SEO as “low level and cheap” relative to Social Media seems bizarre.

    To describe SEO as only involving link building is also not creditable to a search engine expert. Link building is just one part of good SEO, with others including planning, keyword research, content authoring, on page optimisation, site structural and design considerations, conversion rates, monitoring and reporting, etc.

    Some SEO is low level and cheap, as is a lot of Social Media work. Both can also be done well.

    SEO is usually more likely to result in high visitor numbers than Social Media, which in the early days often involves the site owner busily marketing to their 50 close friends and family – hardly a strategy aimed to bring new visitors to a web site, develop any real authority, or attract new business to a company.

    Time requirements are also a bit bewildering – you can comfortably spend 10-20 hours per week on SEO if you really want to make something of a site, just like you can with Social Media. If you want to do either SEO or SMM “quick and dirty” you still have the option of buying in from a cheap link company (poor SEO), or automating your tweets based on various spurious algorithms designed to “build your follower numbers” (Poor Social Media).

    Links from Social Media are often NOFOLLOW too, so the link benefit from some sites can me minimal, though as you point out there are plenty of other benefits to good Social Media Marketing.

    I agree about the need to planning and consulatancy at the early stage of an SEO or Social Media campaign, in order to determine the best strategy for a client – that goes without saying for anyone wishing to do a quality job.

    But other parts of the comparison seems overly simplistic, and rather mis-leading from a professional SEO.

    avatar Social Marketing Versus Generic SEO – What’s The Difference? | Did You Know ... says:

    […] Post from: SiteProNews: Webmaster News & ResourcesSocial Marketing Versus Generic SEO – What’s The Difference? […]

    Since yrs I develop my online strategy and try to increase the results (leads, conversion).

    The article is following my experience: Social media activity will effect no good relation between time and income.

    If we discuss SEO, so some few parts make sense (keyword, image-alt, meta-tags). Most convincing is content. And here you can find the most common mistakes which are spread to 99,99% in all sites – following the wrong recommendations of the “experts”. As nearly all site owners follow the mainstream, the effect is less worse than it should, but still bad enough 😉

    avatar Dave says:

    In response to your comment Peter “the purpose of this article is to highlight the key differences and aims of each type of campaign not what any single campaign should contain”
    This article was not intended as a guide to what “SEO” actually entails or individual components of SEO or SEM as was clearly highlighted, and yes it is simplistic to make it easier to understand for web owners not conversant with web site promotion.
    The article also refers to generic back link building which as you rightly pointed out, and I would agree is only one aspect of good SEO. The other factors you mentioned I would also consider very important for SEO as is made quite clear on my website, but they are outside of the scope of the article so not included as it is more focussed towards SEM.

    Perhaps in hindsight it would have been better to use the title:

    “Social Marketing Versus Generic SEM – What’s The Difference?”

    Just goes to show the importance of getting the title right. 🙂

    Excellent article Sam and thanks for sharing.

    Thanks for the comment Darlene, I am pleased that the article was helpful for you

    So you know you need to get your website on page one of Google to get more business, but how do you choose an effective SEO company that won’t take your money and deliver no results?

    avatar Mary says:

    This article was not intended as a guide to what “SEO” actually entails or individual components of SEO or SEM as was clearly highlighted, and yes it is simplistic to make it easier to understand for web owners not conversant with web site promotion.

    avatar maysengare says:

    Search engine optimization (SEO)
    is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.
    Other forms of search engine marketing (SEM) target paid listings.
    In general, the earlier (or higher on the page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine.
    SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search and industry-specific vertical search engines.
    This gives a website web presence

    avatar melissafoster says:

    Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. Other forms of search engine marketing (SEM) target paid listings.

    seo means search engine optimization.

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    avatar david says:

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    avatar derrek says:

    it is interesting company. in marketing
    the earlier (or higher on the page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list,the more visitors it will receive from the search engine.

    avatar sarah says:

    While outsourcing can help companies with cost cutting and immediate savings, it can do much more. Outsourcing can drive measurable performance improvements in nearly every aspect of the business and help companies emerge in an even stronger competitive position.

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    avatar anleague says:

    Whether you’re a business owner or SEO pro, you know by now that ranking high in the search engines requires inbound links. Lots of them. In fact, the quantity, quality and relevance of links are the key factors in a site’s rating – and the #1 reason why Google places one site above another on its results pages. I have tried wordtracker linkbuilding tool. Its been pretty good but little bit pricy tho. You can do a 7 day free trail to check whether it is working out or not.

    Social media is the promoting your website through networking sites and media but you have to pay for doing social media. SEO is the best way to promote your website free. it will structure your website and you can easily to learn. Best Seo Company in Bangalore

    avatar Ben Oren says:

    It is true the social marketing campaigns do require a lot time and more expensive than generic SEO. For someone on a smaller budget SEO is a better choice.

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