SEO Vs SMO: Understanding The Difference

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Every time we turn around there’s a new acronym we need to know: SEO, CRO, SEM, SMM, BEO and then SMO. What about SEO vs SMO?

It often leaves us wondering, is this just a new catchy name for something old that I’m already doing? Or do I really need to know the difference?

Well, SMO’s not new. But it has increased in popularity lately.

Social media has long been an important part of SEO strategies and vice versa. But amidst the SEO craze, rarely did the thought leaders talk about optimization of social media. That changes with the introduction of SMO (social media optimization).

And it’s time to learn about SEO vs SMO.

Let’s explore how you can use them together to achieve the ultimate digital marketing campaign.

What Is Social Media Optimization?

Social media optimization is all about maximizing your brand exposure and engagement through social channels. Through it you build:

  • Brand awareness
  • Trust
  • Loyalty
  • Promoter activity
  • Reputation

This may just sound like social media marketing. But there’s a glaring difference. Social media marketing is about using social to promote your product or service. And yes it involves some optimization.

SMO, however, takes it to the next level. It doesn’t settle for so-so results. It’s about optimizing all of those strategies to:

  • Reduce costs
  • Reduce time wasted on ineffective strategies
  • Maximize ROI
  • Better achieve your goals

In terms of SEO vs SMO, SEO is about optimizing your website to maximize your visibility in search results. Both are important to achieving your goals. But they work in very different ways.

What SMO Isn’t

SMO isn’t casting your seeds broadly and hoping something takes root. That’s not optimization. And it’s a complete waste of time.

Because SMO is about maximizing your ROI, it’s targeted. It’s precise, calculated, and data-driven.

Hopefully, you can say the same about your SEO strategies. Walking through SEO vs SMO will help you understand how to maximize all of your efforts to achieve your goals.

SEO Vs SMO in Link-Building

As a business leader investing in SEO, you likely know that link-building is incredibly important to increasing your rankings through SEO. It also applies to SMO, but in a very different way.

SEO without strong SMO usually means that you have to build most of your backlinks manually through guest posts, directories, and other strategies.

But SMO helps you build backlinks naturally. It funnels highly qualified traffic toward your blogs, videos, and other content. People see content they like and they link to it from their own blogs.

It’s important to remember that SMO doesn’t directly increase backlinks. In other words, per Google, social shares don’t directly contribute to ranking or give you links.

But this secondary link-building strategy can help you maximize all of your efforts across your SEO and SMO strategies.

SEO Vs SMO On Page

In SEO, on page strategies contribute to your ability to rank for a certain search term. These strategies include:

  • Creating high-quality long-form content
  • Adding multi-media content
  • Targeting certain Keywords
  • Optimizing metas which will appear in search results
  • Optimizing H1, H2, H3 headers

In the world of SMO, on-page is very different. Your on page is what people see in their feeds. This includes, for example:

  • Attention-grabbing visuals
  • Headlines
  • Hashtags

Keyword strategies are important for both, but they’re executed in very different ways.

SEO Vs SMO Titles

In SEO, the meta title helps a search engine understand what your website is about so that when someone enters a search, they get the results they were looking for.

This is incredibly important to search engines. When their users find exactly what they’re looking for, people keep using that search engine.

These titles are also for humans. They appear in search results. When people see what they’re looking for because of an effective title, they click through.

But with SEO there’s often a battle between being search engine friendly and people friendly. This battle does not exist with SMO.

You’re 100% focused on user experience.

In SMO, you’re creating titles for humans — specifically — your target audience. Your goal is to create headlines and visuals that increase engagement in the form of:

  • Shares
  • Likes
  • Upvotes
  • Clicks to the website
  • Conversion

SEO Vs SMO Content Creation

In SEO content creation, you once again encounter that battle between search engine- and human-readability.

Sometimes content creators may say things in a funny way because it makes it easier for search engine spiders to crawl and understand their webpage or site.

In SMO, once again, it’s all about people. Because posts tend to be short, there’s no room for awkward wording. Every word counts.

Everything must be 100% optimized for humans because humans are the ones making the decisions about the shareability or clickability of your on-page content.

SEO Vs SMO Content Objectives

In SEO, content must be engaging, yes. But believe it or not, the competition isn’t quite so fierce with SEO vs SMO.

With SEO content, someone has already clicked on your content. On average they’ll spend at least 15 seconds scanning through your page. But in many cases, they’ll stay much longer.

With SMO, you have less than a second. Or just as much time as it takes someone to scroll through a social media feed.

Within that second, you have to make the behemoth of first impressions to get them to stop and take a closer look. That’s why optimization is so important.

SEO Vs SMO More About Content

You’ll likely scream if we say “content is king“. But we’ll say it anyway. There’s a reason we’ve included 3 distinct sections on content.

In SEO, content is important to produce high search engine ranking. But it can’t do it alone. You must incorporate various link-building, social media and other strategies to succeed.

In SMO, content stands on its own. When we say content we’re talking about all of it: videos, images, quizzes, text, etc.

In SMO, you can look at things more at face value. Did the content get the clicks? If not, you need better content.

SEO Vs SMO Analytics

Effective SEO and SMO must have analytics. Otherwise, you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t. You don’t know what to do to overtake your competitor. In fact, without analytics, you don’t even know where you stand at any given moment in time.

SEO analytics include, but aren’t limited to:

Competitor Analysis

This involves identifying who your search result competitors are.

In the local SEO arena, this could be businesses you know like your real-world competitors. On a more global basis, depending on what you do, you’re likely competing against monster brands like Amazon.

In order to create an effective SEO strategy, you need to identify who the competition is for various search terms. Then you would identify their strengths and weaknesses and develop a strategy to rank above them.

Keyword Analysis

This analysis is largely driven by what you find out about your competition. You’re looking for keywords that meet certain criteria:

  • Lower competition
  • High intention
  • Very relevant to what you do
  • Usually long-tail

SEO Analysis

This is an analysis of where your website stands right now. Is your website responsive and mobile-friendly? What’s your backlink profile look like? How high is your website’s authority? Are you already ranking for certain keywords?

You have to know where you are to set goals for where you need to go and figure out how to get there.

Traffic Analysis

On an ongoing basis, you would monitor and analyze your traffic and other indicators to better understand how well your SEO strategies are working.

You would then adapt and hone your strategies to improve your results over time.

Next, for comparison, let’s look at SMO analytics which include but aren’t limited to:

Channel Traffic Analysis

You would analyze various social media channels to choose the optimal place to focus your efforts.

This involves both some initial research into where best to reach your target audience.

It then involves comparing the quantity and quality of traffic that you receive from each channel. You would then narrow your strategy to the 2-3 channels on which you get the greatest ROI.

Engagement Analysis

You would use social media analytics tools to measure your engagement:

  • Click through rates
  • Shares
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Mentions

Based on this data, you streamline your processes and hone your strategy.

Competitor Analysis

Of course, a competitor analysis is needed to optimize your social media. But it’s very different from an SEO analysis. In SEO, ultimately, search engines decide what your visibility is to potential customers.

In SMO, your content gets to speak for itself. If you post great content, it will stand out. It will begin gaining traction that over a short time will gain steam through your optimization efforts.

SEO Vs SMO Timelines

Unless you’re using black hat SEO strategies that will eventually get your website penalized, SEO takes time to show results.

According to Google, a website that’s on the up and up will take 6 months to 1 year to achieve ranking through SEO alone.

But SMO can achieve results in a much shorter timeframe.

You don’t have to wait for search engines to decide that your website is important enough to rank high in search results.

But optimizing content, you drive social media traffic straight to your website. You can expect to see some results almost instantly. And those results will improve over time as you continue to optimize.

On the flip side of this, SEO results are more sustained. They require continual monitoring and tweaking, but once you achieve a high ranking, it’s harder to lose it than it is to maintain it.

With SMO, if you suddenly stop posting updates, the results will fade rather quickly.

This strength-weakness inversion is precisely the reason that SEO and SMO work so effectively as a team instead of it being SEO vs SMO. One’s strength is the other’s weakness and vice versa.

SEO Vs SMO Measurable Results

Both social media and search traffic have their challenges in terms of measurable results. Both of them create an impression on people that may not immediately pay off with a conversion.

It takes 7- 13 touch points before a conversion.

Because SEO is a long-term strategy, you need to measure micro-conversions and micro-goals first to determine that you’re strategies are working for your unique business.

These include:

  • Click through rate
  • Traffic
  • Reduced bounce rate
  • Acquiring an email
  • Number of backlinks
  • Authority of your site going up
  • Increased visibility in search engines.

In SMO, you also measure those micro-conversions like:

  • Shares
  • Likes
  • Click through

They help you understand that you’re on the right track and where you can further optimize to maximize your ROI. But as discussed above, you can see the fruits of your labor faster as leads actually turn to sales through SMO.

With SEO, it might contribute to the touch points that lead to a conversion coming in through social media. For this reason, it’s often difficult to appropriately attribute that conversion to an area of your digital strategy.

Why It’s Not SEO Vs SMO; You Need Both

Search engine algorithms continue to improve how searchers find what they’re looking for.

With each new update, those who focus more solely on SEO find themselves falling behind or even penalized. They find that something that seemed okay at the time, is suddenly moved to the black hat category.

In addition, as more and more strategies hit the black hat list, it can take longer to get results without other strategies.

SMO helps provide some balance. Social media behavior may change. But social isn’t going away. 81% of the US population is on social media. The numbers are comparable worldwide — and growing.

SMO creates the ultimate direct connection between business and consumer. SEO helps you maintain that connection long term.

SEO is an incredible amount of work up front with maintenance. SMO is steady ongoing maintenance, but you do see results faster.

What would you add to the difference between SEO and SMO? Comment below.