10 Misconceptions Why SEO is Better than SMO Refuted

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Wayne Smallman over at Blah! Blah! Technology has taken great lengths to convince people that conventional SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is better than SMO (Social Media Optimization) for middle sized and small businesses.

As I do not advocate a pure either or approach but rather the as well or more accurately “SEO as a side effect” approach of SEO 2.0 I am not against SEO altogether.

In fact my blog is called SEO 2.0 and not SMO whatever because I believe that SMO is just a as set of practices inside a larger discipline: SEO 2.0.

SEO for Web 2.0 does not only consist of SEO of course but, if I you would ask me for numbers I would say 70% SMO and 30% SEO. On the other hand if you would ask me for the time and effort spend with SEO compared to the hours spent for SMO in SEO 2.0 I would reply 5-10% for SEO and up to 95% for SMO.

This does not mean that SMO is to hard to implement, it means that in SEO 2.0 you take standard SEO best practices for granted and do bother later.

That said I still have to refute the points Wayne voiced. I highly respect Wayne, he’s in my CLIQ and he is an web and technology expert, doing web development and design, blogging, SEO and actively using social media. As a blogger he has a good grip on the larger picture while I sometimes am to much in love with my own niche oftraffic generation.

Nonetheless I have the impression that Wayne is driven somehow by a strange kind of nostalgia to the easy days of SEO where you optimized once, added some links from directories or link exchange and then you got traffic for an infinite time via Google and other search engines.

The online world has changed in the recent years where Web 2.0 style social sites and blogging have become omnipresent. The new web is still predominantly populated by bloggers, early adopters and Internet specialists. The John Doe webmaster uses, on the other hand, still a simple website if at all, and probably has never heard of terms like SEO, blogging or Web 2.0 so you won’t teach her or him SMO right away.

It’s not impossible to succeed on the social web as a small business webmaster though. The contrary is the case, you can compete with the big guys if you use the tools of Web 2.0 right. You get both direct traffic and as secondary effect the traffic via Google and the likes.

Wayne states that “99% of businesses will never benefit from Social Media or Social Networking” which he underpins with basically only 5 claims.

So let’s take a look at Waynes main points, I have to narrow them to an easily digestible size:

Claim 1: Small businesses do not need much content, they need websites with 5 pages
In reality: Small businesses need the so called “long tail” to compete with the big guys as in SEO 1.0 in most cases you can’t outperform the big sites optimizing for the same main keywords.

Claim 2: Small business owners and employees are too busy, lazy, stupid or not web-savvy enough to blog or engage in social media
In reality: Business people can very well explain what they do or report what happens in their industry. Blogging is as easy as checking web mil right now so what’s the problem? If they can’t themselves you only need someone to write for your blog three times a week for one hour, do you think you can afford that?

Claim 3: Small businesses dealing with or selling non-sexy products or services will never succeed on social media
In reality: This is a widely spread misconception, as if only Apple is allowed to push their products via all social media. Well, it’s not true. If you look at Digg you can be much more successful as a plumber there than as a SEO. Just look at the many top articles dealing with toilets. I know plumbers are not all about toilets, but people love strange stories about them.

Claim 4: Several profiles at Web 2.0 services are useless for small businesses
In reality: Ever heard the term reputation management? do you prefer disgruntled clients or former employees slandering your business in the google top ten or do you prefer to control the first ten or twenty search results. Just look up my “company” onreact or onreact.com in Google.com, I dominate the first 20 results for both!

Claim 5: Befriending people online does not make sense for small business owners or employees
In reality: Do you think email is good way of communication? Why don’t you meet all your clients or at least call them personally each time you have a message for them? The same answer applies to social networks and the likes.

Additionally I want to ad several key differences why SEO 2.0 techniques are better than outdated SEO practices:

  1. While with SEO you’re dependent mostly on Google, you can be banned over night for no apparent reason, Matt Cutts or rather nameless algorithms can destroy businesses with a blink of an eye! SEO 2.0 or SMO drives traffic from many sources and via people not robots. even if one site bans you or goes down, the people you networked with will still know you and probably socialize with you elsewhere
  2. With SEO you sometimes have to wait up to one year to see some good rankings as Google places yoo in the so called sand box filter for new sites. So you optimize for a year and then see some effects. With SEO 2.0 or SMO you’ll see traffic from day one, if done right. The links you gain via social media will push you in the rankings too so sometimes you#ll overcome the sand box much quicker.
  3. In SEO you have to write long copy in a really boring repetitive style using keywords in such a way you rank well, so that people will get bored with your copy. While in SEO 2.0 you write with passion for the people and you want to attract them right away, they love your copy.
  4. Socializing on the Net is just another way of forging business relations with your existing business partners or new ones. While you would never befriend anAustralian living there while you’re in Europe in real life unless you work as a flight attendant you can do it with social media. Did you ever befriend anybody at Google or Yahoo or search? You can’t even email someone if you’re rankings drop. Google does not care for small business owners.
  5. While it’s utter bullshit most normal people assume that SEO is shady manipulation only somewhere along the spam you get via email. So business owners are often very hesitant to even admit they do SEO. In fact that’s one of the reasons why SEO has such a bad rep because you only see the bad one as a normal user and nobody will tell how the New York Times optimizes it’s website. SEO 2.0 or SMO is out there in the open. In a way it’s about showing off you and your business or company. You d not have to lie to your clients about it.

I could go on like hat but I have to do some SEO work now, but I can convince more and more clients that SEO 2.0 with it’s set of SMO methods is the better choice and why buying or exchanging links and dependance on the Google monopoly (95% market share in Germany by now) can amount to suicide sometimes. I can convince them although blogging and social media are still nascent in Germany with only just a few people actively participating.