Can Search Marketing be Replaced by Social Media?

Imagine that your business had to sacrifice either its search marketing or its social media marketing. Which would you cut from the budget?

If it’s easy to answer that question, then maybe you aren’t taking full advantage of one or the other, because both types of marketing are crucial in our modern technological world.

The way the media tells it, social marketing is the future of the web industry, the light at the end of the Internet, and the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Respected tech blogs devote much more time to covering social media than search engines and SEO–and why not? The average person spends more time perusing Facebook than performing Google searches, and SEO, whether black hat or white hat, is old hat in the eye of the public. But businesses who forego search marketing to focus on social media will find themselves missing out on a plethora of opportunities…not to mention traffic.

The primary purpose of search marketing is to make your website discoverable. The more visible it is, the more traffic it is likely to receive. Would you build a restaurant on a busy street corner or in the forest on the outskirts of town? I’ll give you a hint: the woodland creatures aren’t known for leaving tips.

A small business website is like a geocache: it’s a treasure that wants to be found. It’s valuable to the people who want your product or service.

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Valuable

But you can’t just expect customers to stumble across it–not often enough, anyway. Because a small business website is also vulnerable. It’s not self-sustaining; it has needs, like traffic and conversions, to keep your business going.

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Vulnerable

In geocaching, you make your treasure findable by using a GPS device to mark its location, then uploading the coordinates to a listing site. Then, anyone with a GPS will know where to look for it. Search marketing works in a similar fashion, using a variety of techniques to make a website more discoverable, raise its search engine ranking, and boost traffic.

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Discoverable

Search engines are the biggest source of traffic for content-oriented websites, accounting for an average of 40% of traffic, to social media’s 5-10%. ¬†Despite our (and the media’s) obsession with social networks, we are more likely to use a search engine to find what we’re looking for. That’s why search marketing won’t be replaced anytime soon.

Of course, social media marketing has its place, too. In fact, search engines have begun to incorporate social signals, and social media can be optimized for search marketing, so these two branches are becoming more entwined every day. In our next article, we’ll look at the advantages of social media and how it complements your search marketing campaigns.


photo credit: BullionVault via photopin cc
photocredit: gonzalomerat via photopin cc

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