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In his blog, Mr. Powazek suggests that you post information about your site using your ‘Twitter feed, email list, personal blog’; two of which, in the Internet noise debate, I would suggest are far more prone to spam than SEO.
For this third, and final instalment in this series, I will focus on the assertion that SEO will be invalidated by the onset of social media. Have the likes of Facebook and Twitter made us all bid adieu to the beloved search engine? Or is there a little more to it than that?
I explored the issue of marketer’s involvement on sites like Twitter in the post Has Social Media Become Too PR Orientated? For me, the percentage of valuable and informative ‘tweets’ is on the decline. Whilst the number of users and messages being exchange rises, the quality is dipping. Twitter, whether we like it or not, is a major source of spam.
I use Twitter to promote blog posts, this is in itself (correctly) considered spammy; however, it is effective and it has become something of an industry norm, so it would be churlish to ignore that opportunity for additional traffic. But promoting a website in this way is, at least according to the criticism aimed at SEO, actually just another form of SEO. Owners talk about your site in an attempt to outshout the general din. They begin Chinese Whispers in an overtly covert way to start word of mouth. This is the way of marketing for the Internet; therefore, perhaps search engines and real-time social media sites aren’t all that dissimilar.
Is Social Media Really A Viable Alternative to SEO?
Decrying the values of SEO whilst eulogising Twitter is a mistake. Social media allows interaction, discussion, the free exchange of ideas – fantastic. But social media also propagates the same fundamental marketing principle of he who shouts loudest gets seen most, like it or not. The Global Village isn’t the quality enriched user-based utopia some hoped for, not yet anyway; but we have to accept that, not listen to fanciful luddites who claim otherwise.
Turing attention slightly, we look towards the constant stream of news that clogs the Internet’s arteries and the unfortunate culprit is quite often a humble blog. A blog is what you make of it. At Koozai, we have to cover many angles to engage the SEO community, SEO newcomers and clients alike; it is designed as a useful resource with the occasional confrontational discourse thrown in for good measure.
However, a blog is also a vital SEO tool, perfect for linkbaiting and creating attention for a product. With one hand people criticise SEO as a worthless pursuit, but yet on the other they promote the idea of owning a blog to gain more exposure. Powazek himself used his own blog to critique SEO, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But due to the controversial nature of what was said, inaccuracies and scurrilous criticisms aside, his website has seen a massive spike in traffic, as indicated in the graphic (provided by Alexa rankings) below.
This is perfect SEO. His criticism of SEO has in fact shown just how SEO – combined with social media and blogging – can give any website added status online; even one that deliberately courts controversy for individual gratification. Linkbaiting is SEO, Powazek’s article is linkbaiting (it certainly isn’t ‘quality content’); therefore, and as much as he may argue, his argument against the power of optimisation is in fact a far better one for it.
SEO v Social Media: Which is Noisier?
The simple fact is that the Internet is noisy. Google have indexed a trillion web pages as of last year, whilst there are millions of messages circulating the various boards of social media each and every day. The more followers you have on Twitter, the more people will read and respond to your tweets. The higher up you appear in a search engine, the more people will be able to find your website. The two are inextricably linked, being heard is important, the quality of what you have to say will ultimately define your success though.
The real success of Powazek’s article was that it managed to tap a seemingly raw nerve. It managed to provoke a wide range of responses from the leading names in the industry; however, controversy isn’t always a good way to get ‘positive’ traffic. A blog thrives on comments and interaction; the more people that visit, the more likely you are to get exactly what you want. The principle, therefore, isn’t all that different to a conventional website.
A blog post may enjoy a good level of interest from social bookmarking sites and the occasional tweet; but it will also filter into Google. Many bloggers deliberately give posts a title that is regularly searched for to encourage more traffic, again, this is SEO. Social media enables this kind of information to be found much quicker though. Soon hundreds, even thousands of people could be actively discussing the content of your blog, helping generate some interest in a post.
Barring an amazing turn of good fortune, your products and services just aren’t going to enjoy this kind of continued exposure on social media, and initial interest will invariably dip. A spike in visitor numbers, whether from interested consumers or a disgruntled mob, does not a website make. Consistent growth and continued online visibility where it counts, that’s what helps a website succeed. This is when the continued 24/7 marketing strength of the search engines comes into its own.
Proven Results in an Evolving Industry
Regardless of your feelings towards SEO professionals, many websites still need their expertise. There is no underhanded conspiracy to take money from the ignorant and enfeebled. SEO helps websites get seen on search engines, that’s the bottom line. The techniques used don’t require sorcery, just understanding. But when push comes to shove, it will be the standard of content that will decide if it succeeds or not in the long-term. The public gets what the public wants, and if the public don’t want what you’re offering, you won’t succeed, no matter what area of business you’re in.
SEO adds method and structure to Internet marketing. It removes the blinkers and helps websites earn targeted traffic. There’s every chance you can succeed without professional assistance, many people do, but it’s there if you need it and only then.
With that, the defence rests.
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