Will Social Media Replace SEO?

The rising importance of social media marketing has led some “experts” to call it “the next SEO.”

 In a way, this kind of statement makes a bit of sense – hundreds of millions of people use social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ every day, making them invaluable for reaching new potential buyers. But don’t be fooled into thinking that social media marketing is going to be replacing SEO anytime soon.

Social Media and Search Engines Have Differing Uses

Individuals use social media and search engines for different reasons. People turn to search engines like Google – which garners more than 2 billion hits per day – because they want information.

Social media is great for connecting with friends and businesses, sharing content and getting advice. But if you want quick answers to easy facts (or are researching new vendors for a product or service), you’re much more likely to turn to Google than Facebook. The counterargument is that individuals can ask their friends about products and services on social networks, but even then, they are still more likely to perform a final research through Google.

Search and social each have their place, but don’t ignore the continued importance of SEO in your Internet marketing campaigns.

Social Media as a Ranking Signal

An alternate opinion is that social media will become a ranking signal for search engines.

There is some truth to this. Social does impact Google search performance by  increasing the amount of exposure a particular piece of content receives. But it’s still unclear whether Google considers social signals such as likes and shares. In addition, other factors like link building and content quality still heavily impact SEO.

The better way to think of it is to not to optimize for a particular signal, but to optimize for the user. If you are focused on your buyer persona and create content they care about, you will inherently get social interaction, inbound links and all the other benefits that impact SEO.

Just remember, Google is focused on its users, so that’s who you need to focus on. If you consistently deliver great content, Google will reward you.

Social is very useful in content distribution, building an audience, creating brand loyalty and offering customer service. However, it is certainly not going to replace SEO. If anything, social media will eventually become another component of the SEO professional’s playbook.

Further explore the relationship between SEO and social media in this helpful article.