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Business websites: SEO versus Social Media, Part 1

99% of businesses will probably never benefit from Social Media as they would from SEO, and here’s why…

99% of businesses will probably never benefit from Social Media as they would from SEO, and here’s why…

Last week, a fellow ‘blogger put forward an argument that for businesses the incorrect argument that SEO is no longer relevant, and that Social Media is the place to be, which makes no sense to me at all. As much as I like what Tad has to say, with regards to 99% of the businesses out there, he’s wrong.

Please be aware this is not a character assassination of “Tad” Tadeusz Szewczyk.

Also, for those that know me and my ‘blog, then you know only too well how much of a proponent of Social Media & Social Networking I am. But I’m also aware of their limitations, too.

So let’s look at the arguments Tad put forward, which I think need to be addressed, if this way of thinking is any way representative of any current school of thought.

WordPress, Drupal are no substitutes for good SEO

Tad put forward the idea that popular CMS (Content Management Systems) like WordPress and Drupal are good enough for day-to-day SEO. In fact, they’re not anything like good enough.

That’s not because they’re technical deficient in some way, but because it’s like saying a truck is good for moving home — it is, but you’ve got to get your belongings in there in the first place.

Such things are merely receptacles into which a managed, planned on-line marketing presence is poured into. Much like how the mechanical structure of a website or ‘blog is just one aspect of good SEO; the content is to the key as the code is to the lock which opens the door to organic search engine traffic.

In fact, only last week did I get a call from someone wanting a simple 5 page website. They asked about having a CMS, but the effort of maintaining — despite the reduced cost of implementing — something like WordPress was much too daunting a prospect for them.

And this isn’t an isolated case, either. I’ve had similar discussions before, and so have a lot of people I know in my industry.

The death of the search engine has been greatly exaggerated

Tad mentioned that (at some point in the future, I presume) search engines will no longer be a driver for qualified traffic.

Now, in his defense, I too put forward arguments about how Google doesn’t get Social Media, and / or Google is afraid of Social Media. In short, traffic from Social Media could well undermine the ability of the search engines to monetize search traffic due to Social Media cornering some part of what was organic search traffic.

However, there’s a very natural limiting factor in place here; the vast majority of the traffic thundering through the likes of StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, del.icio.us et cetera isn’t strictly business-related.

It’s not like people are voting or sharing stock quotes, business franchising opportunities or buy-to-let property agreements.

“So tell me, how do I get a client of mine who sells medical devices you stick in people’s throats onto Digg, or StumbleUpon, or Reddit?”

That’s a question I put to Tad, which I think pretty much sums up the fundamental upper limit of Social Media right now. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon, either.

This fundamental upper limit is defined by the fundamentally diverse nature of businesses in the world.

Anti-SEO Content Management Systems

I’ve come across businesses that use a CMS that, for one reason or another, doesn’t make any provision for SEO best practices.

On the whole, any business using a CMS that isn’t doing them any favours from a search engine traffic point of view is more likely to be the kind of businesses who has the money if not the good sense (and I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way, either) to choose a better tool for the job.

So these companies don’t really qualify in the context of the other 99% of businesses. By combining their business knowledge with a more appropriate CMS like WordPress or Drupal, they can easily leverage a better quality search engine optimized website.

99% of the businesses out there can benefit in some way from good Search Engine Optimization, while 99% of businesses will never benefit from Social Media or Social Networking, no matter how much virtual flesh-pressing and friend-making they do…

Go to part 2, part 3

Recommended reading

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

5 replies on “Business websites: SEO versus Social Media, Part 1”

I think SEO and Social Media are both relevant, but like any marketing tools they have to be used appropriately. Just as a marketer chooses whether to advertise in a magazine or on T.V., whether to use direct mail and/or telemarketing, etc., those of us marketing in the online world must decide how to prioritize our efforts when it comes to SEO, Social Media and our other mktg options.

Content is still king and still a major factor in SEO. As you indicate a CMS can’t optimize your site if you don’t throw the right ingredients into it in the first place. Plus a lot of SEO strategies, such as appropriately using headings, are also good content development strategies. Well I’m sure you get into more of this in the next installments, so I’ll go read those now too.

I think both are complementary and, no way, SEO will continue being king for traffic generation a long time, to get the same amount of traffic from social nets you have to invest much more time.

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