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Social Media and SEO Smackdown! [Infographic]

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(Posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 06:09AM by William Cosgrove)
Social Media and SEO aren’t just different, in many ways they’re opposites. Social appeals to people. Search engine optimization appeals to a robot. The speed, the reach, the measurement and the content that performs well are all very different.

Knowing the difference will help you decide what content to promote in which channel, how to spend your time, and where to set expectations.

Here’s a breakdown of the differences (and similarities) between social media and SEO.
Speed
  • Social: Although growing a following takes time, social media posts appear instantly and results can happen within minutes.
     
  • Search: SEO is typically slow and uncertain. Even highly relevant pages take days to get indexed and rank. It often takes years to build up enough credibility to compete for the most valuable phrases.
     
Upper Limits
  • Social: There is virtually no limit to the number of people who may share a piece of content. If you’ve ever been part of a mini viral event, you know just how far and how fast things can spread.
     
  • Search: The amount of traffic a page will get from a search engine will never exceed a certain number. That’s the number of people who search for that phrase each day. The search volume for the phrase is the maximum amount of traffic the page will get from search engines.
     
Topics
  • Social: Content that stirs an emotional response often does best, especially emotions such as anxiety, anger, and awe. See Brain Science and Web Design Tips for more information.
     
  • Search: Research-based content often performs best, such as detailed, how-to instructional posts, and articles that answer common questions.
     
Formats
  • Social: Visuals perform best in social media. Images and video are the most shared content on the web. Posts with images generate 53% more likes than average on Facebook.
     
  • Search: Long form text performs best. The average page that ranks high in Google has 1500+ words. See the Ideal Length Guidelines for more information.
     
Audience Intent
  • Social: Visitors from social media marketing are typically less likely to buy since they were likely browsing through a social network when they found you. But they are more likely to share and spread awareness. Social fans and followers often influence potential buyers.
     
  • Search: Visitors from search are more likely to be ready to buy, but less likely to share and interact. These visitors enter with a specific purpose, need, or question.
     
Effort
  • Social: Marketing with social media involves many short-lived actions. Most visibility and traffic happens within minutes. This is why social media requires a continuous, ongoing effort.
     
  • Search: Once it’s working, search traffic can lead to durable visibility, creating an ongoing, passive source of visitors. Depending on the phrase and the page, high rankings may endure for weeks or months.
     
Measurement
  • Social: It’s easy to measure social engagement. Shares, likes, and comments are all highly visible. But it’s hard to measure reach. The total visibility and traffic of all social activity is not easy to report on. There are many platforms and each has its own reports. Social traffic reports in Analytics are not very accurate.
     
  • Search: It’s easy to measure the reach in search engines. The total visibility and traffic from search is centralized in a just few reports, showing keyphrase, impressions, and clicks. But, it’s harder to measure engagement. Keyword data at the page level is no longer provided. It’s difficult to know which keyphrase led to which activity on the website.
     
Interdependence
  • Social: High ranking content brings search traffic that can drive follows, comments, and shares. Social media profiles often rank high. Google Authorship puts social right into search results.
     
  • Search: Smart SEOs know that ranking and links are the outcome of relationships. Blogger relations, PR, and many other search tactics are actually social activities. Skills such as list building, outreach, and pitching are critical to SEO.
     
Like Peanut Butter and Jelly…They’re both about connecting with people. They both benefit from research and data. Social media and SEO come from different directions but end up in the same place: a meaningful connection with an audience.

What’d we miss? Got something to add? Share your view with other readers or let us know if you agree…

Hat tip to our designer over at Visual.ly for the infographic!

By
Andy Crestodina Strategic Director at Orbit Media Studios
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