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Why Social Media Is a Better Investment than SEO

Posted By Guest Blogger 8th of November 2010 Blog Promotion 0 Comments

This guest post is by Gary Arndt of Everything-Everywhere.com

As a blogger, you probably do not have the luxury of having a staff of people to work for you. As such, your time is very valuable and you need to spend it where it will do the most good. We have reached a point in late 2010 where the work required to generate traffic for a normal blog via search engines is much greater than that required to generate an equal amount of traffic via social media.

My thesis is simple: for the majority of bloggers, the time and effort invested on social media is better spent than time spent on SEO.

This post will probably generate controversy. There are an army of people out there who make a living selling SEO products and services. To use an old adage, when you only tool is a hammer, every problem is a nail. To them, SEO is the beginning and end of traffic generation.

To be sure, search engines do drive a lot of traffic, however, with the increasing pollution of search engines with content farms, Google’s love of big brands/big media, and the increasing amount of work required to rank for ever longer keywords, SEO is no longer worth the effort for most bloggers.

The power of brands

Google loves brands. The reasoning behind this actually makes some sense. An easy solution to the problem of spam websites was for Google to give extra authority to sites that have large, established brands. This doesn’t bode well for bloggers, however.

To given you an example of how much authority brands are given, several months ago I conducted an experiment. I had an article that I had done some link building on. After several months the article ranked #3 for the keyword I was targeting (behind two large media properties). I had an opportunity to put some content on the website of a very large media brand. I put that article, word for word, on their site to see how they would rank for the exact same keyword. Within an hour, they were ranked at #4, just behind my original article. In a day, they were ranked above me, even though the same content had been on my site for months and I had gone through the effort to do link building.

I realize there is a new content bonus that Google will give articles for a while, but the fact they were able to rank so high, so quickly, even against a previously indexed article with links, shows just how much the deck is stacked against blogs. Google can’t easily tell the difference a legitimate blog from a made for Adsense spam site. If they could, there would be no spam.

If you are in a niche that doesn’t have a large traditional media presence (niches like Internet marketing, SEO, or social media) you might not notice this because there is little media competition. However, if you are in a niche with a large traditional media presence (like travel, politics, news, sports, or food) you might see on a regular basis how difficult it can be.

Brand vs. individual authority

You might think that Darren Rowse has a great deal of authority on the subject of blogging. You would be correct. However, in the eyes of Google, Darren doesn’t have any authority; ProBlogger.net does. This is a fundamental problem with how Google works. People invest trust and authority in other people while Google puts authority in URL’s.

As a thought experiment, lets say Darren sold ProBlogger.net and started up a new blog called The-Blogging-Pro.info (a horrible domain name, but just stay with me). Everyone who reads this site, subscribes to the newsletter or follows Darren on Twitter would know to now go to the new site to get Darren’s advice on blogging. The authority that Darren has developed over the years would stay with him, even if he moved to a new domain. Google, however, would still put its trust and authority in ProBlogger.net, even though the real authority has moved to a different domain.

Social media solves the authority dilemma. You know who is authoritative and isn’t. I often ask people how many people they can name who have written an article for National Geographic in its 122-year history. Most people can’t name a single person. Yet, if I ask them who is behind their favorite blogs, almost everyone can give me a name. We trust the New York Times or National Geographic because of the reputation the brand has developed over the years. Even if the author of a given article knows nothing about the subject (which does happen), they are assumed to be authoritative just because of the brand they are writing under.

Writers will usually give a list of the publications they have written for as their credentials. Their authority is a second hand authority derived from the publications they have written for. (“I am a successful author because I have written for large, successful publications.”)

Blogger authority is first hand authority. It comes directly from the reputation they have developed over time from their audience.

The power of individuals

The fact that people know who bloggers are is exactly the reason why blogs have a comparative advantage in social media. The New York Times Twitter account might have millions of followers, but they can never do more than pump out links to articles. It can’t have a conversation, talk or listen. If it did, who would be the one doing the talking on behalf of the brand?

The part of social media that actually builds trust and authority is totally absent from most large media properties. They are simply not able to engage in a conversation as a brand. Some companies like ESPN have banned their staff from using Twitter precisely because they didn’t want their employees to develop their own authority outside if the network. If they did, they’d become too valuable and they would have too much leverage when it came time to negotiate contracts.

Bloggers have the ability to do an end run around traditional media precisely because we are capable of having a conversation. That is something a faceless brand can never do.

SEO is time consuming

Critics of this article might point out that if you just worked harder, you could rank for anything you want. They are probably right. It isn’t a question of what is possible. It is a question of the return on your investment. The concept of time ROI is absent from almost any discussion on SEO.

As I stated above, the deck is stacked against the little guy in SEO. Google loves brands and can’t associate authority with individuals. To just keep pace with media brands, you have to put in much more work. The New York Times doesn’t have to bother with link building. You do. That alone should tell you how fair the playing field is.

Bloggers have a comparative advantage in social media. We can appeal to human notions of authority, not algorithmic notions. We can have discussions and conversations, and brands can’t do that. Moreover, it isn’t hard to do. All you have to do is talk and most of you are probably doing that now.

Already you are seeing a shift in some media outlets to superstar journalists. What is happening is the same thing you are seeing in the blogging world. People are putting their trust and authority into people, not the brands they work for. It will only be a matter of time before the superstar journalists realize they don’t need their media masters anymore.

Writing for humans vs. writing for machines

Despite what Google says, the key to good SEO isn’t writing for good content for people. This is a bald-faced lie which anyone who has spent time trying to rank for a keyword knows. Human beings enjoy alliteration, puns, jokes and other forms of word play, which are totally lost on an algorithm. What makes for a good article from a content farm is exactly the thing, which you should not do if you want to covert readers into subscribers. Content created with SEO in mind is more often than not fun to read.

Google’s original rational for the “create good content” argument was that people would naturally link to good content. That is no longer true. People share good content on Twitter and Facebook, which is either closed to Google, labeled as “nofollow”, or doesn’t have anchor text. The world Serge and Brin wrote their seminal paper for in the 1990’s doesn’t exist today.

Traffic as a means vs. traffic as an end

Newspapers have developed an obsession with visits and page views. Many bloggers have the same problem as well. They view raw traffic as the end game because they view the world though an advertising model. Under this paradigm, the more traffic you have the better, regardless how you get it or for what reason, because it will lead to more ad clicks.

Many bloggers have wised up to the fact that advertising isn’t the best way to make money. CPM rates keep falling and will keep falling so long as ad inventory grows faster than online advertising budgets. It has reached a point where to make money via advertising you have to either have an enormous media property or have an incredibly targeted site devoted to a very niche keyword.

Most blogs don’t fit into either category. They don’t have millions of page views per month, and they don’t niche themselves into talking about only instant coffee makers. In this middle space, what matters aren’t raw page views to generate advertising revenue. What matters is growing a loyal following of people who view you as authoritative in your area.

In this model, traffic is just a means to an end, not an end in itself. The real end is getting traffic to convert to subscribers and loyal followers. You will be more likely to get a follower from someone who views you as having authority rather than someone who is just looking for bit of information with no idea of who you are.


Google changes their algorithm all the time. There are companies who have been destroyed by changes made at Google. Fortunes rise and fall based on how Google decides to rank sites. A major question you have to ask yourself is “how dependent do I want to be on Google?”

All the hard work you put into SEO can be destroyed, or at least significantly altered, but changes at Google. Authority and reputation with other people, however, doesn’t change on a whim.

Also, knowing that Google is going to change in the future, in what direction do you think it is going to change? My bet would be towards a greater reliance on social media and less reliance on links. I’m sure there are engineers at Google right now trying to figure out how to translate the authority and trust that individuals have into their search results.

Choose social media for greater ROI

I am not saying you should block Google from indexing your site. I am not saying search engine traffic is bad. In fact, there are blogs out there that would be best served by an SEO strategy.

What I am saying is that outside of a few things you can do in the creation of your blog, don’t worry about SEO. Make sure your permalinks make sense, create a site map, install the appropriate plugins … and then stop worrying about it.

Invest your time where it will give you the highest return. Today, I believe that place is in social media. Do you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Since March 2007, Gary has blogged from over 70 countries at Everything-Everywhere.com. He was also named by Time Magazine as one of the 25 Best Blogs of 2010.

UPDATE: Darren has added his thougths on the SEO vs Social Media debate here.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  1. Thanks for the great post. I am new to the blogging world, and the more I read the more questions I have. I need the 101 to blogging! You have offered some great input, and I look forward to more posts.

  2. I agree… to some extent… social media (participating on social networks and other blogs) is a great way to build your profile and attract visitors – especially when you just started. However it is very time consuming too.

    SEO should be a long-term strategy, it’s true that ranking well is becoming more difficult everyday, but I have the feeling that standing out amongst the millions of ‘gurus’ using Social Media to promote themselves is becoming increasingly difficult too.

    So I would say that you need both, and you could actually kill 2 birds with one stone by providing valuable content (as mentionned in other comments – write for users not Search Engines, Google ultimately values unique and quality content) on websites that will not only attract direct traffic and build your authority, but will also assist with your search engine rankings (watch out for no follows).

    Online Marketing is much more that focusing on one channel only. If you want to get more readers consider all tactics: PPC, SEO, Social Media, Email Marketing and even Ads and Affiliate Marketing – but as usual it’s a question of time and budget.

  3. Just the fact that you can interact with the people who like your brand with social media makes it great to build a strong brand. Your brand is portable from one social platform to another. Your fans will follow you.

  4. Hi Gary,

    I disagree with most of the points you’ve shared in your post.

    Yes, I’m an SEO in case you’d ask. But then I’m also a social media marketer and an entrepreneur.

    Generally, I do agree that in some ways people are confined with the rules set in place by the different search engines (not just Google), however most of these developments are design experiments to make our experiences more humanized and intuitive–it is after all their business to make every search result as relevant as possible to their customer (us)–and that is a constant evolving process.

    On the other hand, I’d like to point out that you’re discussing SEO here only in the objective sense and you’re missing out a lot on the subjective side of things.

    Just to share, most of us love well designed products (e.g. Apple products, IKEA products, etc.) because not just because they are aesthetically pleasing but also because they function well in relation to our needs.

    SEO works the same. There’s a great deal of appreciation for technical aspects (e.g. as with design there’s behavioral science, ergonomics, visual design, interaction design, etc.) to create a seamless experience.

    I’m not sure if you hadn’t noticed but the best optimized sites are sites that are consumed best–I’m referring to sites that are easy to read, easy to navigate, loads fast, have great content, and so forth–not the ones that are spammy with totally unrelated and irrelevant links and keywords.

    In addition, SEO is not about traffic, it’s actually about conversion. It’s quite useless to hire an SEO to build traffic and not convert right? It just doesn’t make sense.

    We know SEs don’t rank meta descriptions, but why do we have to write them well? Yes, it is to convert.

    It’s also an important note to share that search in general is also becoming more social, not that it’s eating up the value of social media but what I’m saying is, is there really a difference between both?

    To me, it’s just ‘optimization,’ we need to create efficient sites/services/products not for the now, or the then, but for something more lasting.

    Social media alone can boost ROI, fast, but how sustainable is it for example Facebook gets boring? Or Twitter suddenly is not cool anymore?

    Lastly, no amount of marketing can save a lousy product. Here at ProBlogger.net, I don’t think it’s about Darren doing just SEO or just Social Media, it’s about doing what he does best while considering all the aspects that affect it.

    It is a matter of forming cultures of discipline, not cooking instant noodles for the now or the next.

    P.S. Another example would be having a great performing car with lousy interiors and vice versa. The relationship between SEO and Social media (and design, usability, content) is an inseparable discipline–in an amoeba economy, we can’t rely on cultures of complacency.

  5. I might have missed in the article, but social media & SEO are not mutually exclusive. Part of good SEO campaign is inbound links. Any time you post a link to your site and it gets indexed, you just did some SEO work.

    As far as time investment – for Social Media it is huge. You have to be constantly saying in Social Media. Whatever you said will be forgotten so because somebody else competing you for attention will post an updated, or “engage”, or “converse”. Your message lifecycle is very short in SM. What you get for free in tools you make up for in time investment.

  6. This article doesn’t talk enough about Social Media and instead focuses on why SEO is hard. Social Media isn’t easy, and one being a better investment than the other also completely depends on your skill set and capabilities.

    For many SEO Experts, SEO is easy and far less time consuming than trying to please the masses of Social Media that have opinion about everything and nothing at the same time.

    Also, writers from large blogs like Techcrunch and Mashable get credibility because they write for those blogs. They’re still bloggers. In my opinion the best bloggers are those that create Brands that will last if they move on to other adventures. At least if we’re talking in terms of business investment.

    Try and step away from your Social investment and go a new direction and see how well your blog lasts then.

  7. You make a great point here. I personally believe that to achieve optimal results, you really need a good balance of SEO and social media. They are as important and effective as each other. I also agree that different industries require different focus in each area.

  8. Gary,

    Nicely stated!

    The problem, as you know, is most people still live by the old rules (SEO) and don’t see how everything else is playing out. More than anything, anybody can become a ‘brand’ now because of the one-to-one connection social tools provide. People now ‘vote’ with their RT’s and ‘Likes’, they’ll remember your @ and not your URL. All you have to do is spend a few months networking on Twitter and you’ll grow an authentic audience.



  9. i am always getting emails from guys who can make me number one OK fine but why wont they do it by ‘paid on results’?

    Maybe they are not that great and wonderful on the game of SEO.

  10. Very informative! This article for me is useful since I was thinking if I’m going to use Social Media or SEO for my blog. Now I realized that writing for human is better than writing for machines.

    Thanks for this.

  11. I agree fully with this article. Very good and insightful job on this posting. Social media blog marketing is the SEO of the future. Low cost, DIY, that almost anyone can learn in order to have a chance at a decent ranking in regards to local search terms.
    If time and patience is not on their side, they can certainly outsource it to an experienced and capable Social Media Strategist.
    Yes, the ultimate objective, and what really matters is “growing a loyal following of people who view you as authoritative in your area”. That trust and loyalty will translate into happy consumers willing to spend money on a product or service you recommended from a business they can trust.

  12. For me, social media sucks. I’m sticking with seo.

  13. My blog is still an infant, only two month of posts and less than a month of analytics tracking. In that month, my forum links and social media presence have definitely been the best source of traffic for me, but my blog is about table top games, and design in particular, so those places are also the most likely place to find readers looking for that type of game.

  14. Social media lends itself better to blogging than SEO in my opinion as it allows the blogger to communicate directly with a chosen “audience” almost on a 1-2-1 basis.

    This is not possible through a traditional search engine.

    The majority of my new readers are coming via twitter, facebook etc.

  15. Perfect. I am sure Google must be working on algo to leverage links shared on twitter, fb likes and other social media platforms

  16. While I don’t think we should discount making sure our blogs / sites are appropriately optimized, or toss out the idea of inbound linking, I work with a lot of small businesses and organizations and agree with you.

    I can help them get the word out and get them engaged in becoming the authority (for their audience) much faster and much more economically than I can for SEO alone.

  17. Thanks Gary, for this very refreshing insight into branding versus SEO.

    I agree wholeheartedly, and like that you added a caveat that it’s still important for both to work in tandem.

    I think so long as those of us who don’t obsess SEO remember to deliver striking content that attracts links, we won’t go far wrong.

    Being recognised as an expert is, has, and always will be the most important part of building your business. Focus on that, and we can rest easy (so long as you really do live, eat and breathe your promises, of course).

    Nicely done.

    Dave Thackeray

  18. Interesting post. SEO has never been a huge concern of mine, but then again, my blog is not where I make money, but rather a platform for me to get other gigs and make money on other sites. When being hired for those gigs, they want to see that I have a “following,” which is much easier to get through engaging others in social media rather than the in-and-out of search-engine visits. I do the basics of SEO – pay attention to post titles, pack keywords early in the post, title all my pictures, etc – but when I write a post that resonates with PEOPLE (and not search words), and they Stumble that post, my traffic goes crazy. That, for me, is what works.

  19. Sorry but I don’t agree with with the post statement.

    I think that both SEO and Social Media leveraging each other. The more traffic you get from SEO, more readers will share your content in the different social media networks.

    I have an assumption that the more traffic you’ll drive from social media will generate more traffic from SEO. I believe/guess that Google uses our analytics report to identify valuable content.

  20. This article got me to think about things in a way I have not thought about before. In the past few months I have thought about link building almost exclusively. Social media, despite my best efforts, doesn’t make me any money and actually brings me less traffic then google does. So for now, I have to continue working both SEO and social media together.

  21. SEO is such a sore subject with me. I cannot tell you how much time that I have spent on SEO vs using that time to develop my writing. I finally had to free myself from the SEO monster and move forward.
    Great post!

  22. I’d love to see a ‘dummies guide to social media’. I’ve read countless articles on how social media is beneficial, etc, etc. But a concise guide as to how to use Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter, etc would be very helpful.

    About all I’ve accomplished w/ social media is placing links on my site and an occasional Digg or report on Facebook. Do I need to be more aggressive with my passing articles to my friends and spamming their facebook? Or is it generally accepted ‘noise’ for those not interested?

  23. Wow! I think it’s all been said!

    I agree- I don’t worry too much about SEO. i put the bells and whistles on (plug in’s, etc…) and then just write like I talk, maybe with a few keywords, maybe not if it compromises what I have to say…

    I do a lot of self-promotion on Social Networking sites, Twitter, etc….

    According to my stats most traffic comes from my promotional efforts, not a search engine…….

    I have always been aware that Google occasionally changes up what they are looking for , so I’m not tied to one promotional strategy.

  24. Like everyone else, you need a controversial subject line to get people to read and react – its all good. Many great points that I completely agree with – bad advice if you want to tell people to avoid SEO. Yep, its work, but you need to do it all to some extent – don’t drop one for the other, social is only as good as its shared.

  25. Wow! – This is one of the best posts I have ever read on this site. Gary, (Guest Blogger)I think your words hit the mark right on. Thanks for this article! I made reference to it in my blog today.

  26. Great encouragement for a beginning blogger.Thanks

  27. This article is Pure Content with a capital C, and a welcome breath of fresh air. Loved what you had to say about breaking the chains of SEO domination. I’ve been led to believe I was totally dependent upon Google’s acceptance. Thanks for the encouragement.

  28. Good written post, Gary. The old saying that knowledge is power has never been truer. The online world is all about knowledge; those who have the most knowledge will succeed online.

  29. This is the reason why I have invested more in social media and have made my SEO simply adjunct to my social media campaign. If Google trips on you – there is no way to get back. If a social media site closes down, you can simply reestablish contacts through your email list.

    Heck, I’ve even developed this altruistic notion that I should stop keyword stuffing and to simply place content for public service despite my full knowledge that Google is automated. But deep within, it’s because I know that I would like to share my content with my social media campaign and this is why I’d have to drop the spinning and the stuffing.

    Thanks for this article to help me realize the natural developments in my thinking.

  30. I have to agree that SEO is difficult, though not impossible, and social media is a powerful medium. The name social media states as clear as day two powerful theories and also has the very appreciated free usage.
    Obviously social means talking and interaction between individuals. As a business owner that means free positive buzz for me. Having socialites sell a product to each other is a God send. It also allows for you to generate brand awareness and popularity!
    Media is probably the most expensive medium to use for sales. Radio and television are extremely costly. Bringing social media into the equation ads that lovely world free. TV and radio are mainly to raise acknowledgement and publicity of your product.
    Another benefit is ease of implementation. SEO is stressful, plain and simple. Social media on the other hand is as easy as setting up a webpage and getting people to” like” the page. Awesome post, you are right on point!

  31. You have some good points – particularly against competing with big brands.

    The thing about SEO however from what I have learned is that you should circumnavigate big brands, edu sites and other high authority sites in any case as even if Google didn’t give them the easy SEO route more than likely they have large budgets which they can invest in SEO if they need to.

    This is where long tail keywords witg low competition come in

    So going on that, you do need to keep an eye on SEO but not get to caught up in it and you do need to integrate with Social Media.

    The problem I find with Social Media like FB is that there are groups for everything so people must get the Ad blindness like they would with too many banners.

    Its a tricky game……..

  32. great ad i do a lot of promoting an this is great info i will use this info i do SEO & social media to drive traffic to my site or anyone who i help with this said i feel that social media is the way to go an SEO is time consuming but both work great.

  33. I strongly agree with you!
    Always being a beginner, and an learner, I confirm that all time spent on SEO was lost compared to smaller investment with Twitter.
    Now I devote my efforts to content as much I can.

  34. Interesting article, but I can’t help to disagree with you. Bottom line, Social Media is great, but a lot of Social Media is about SEO. In order for Social Media to be effective, you need to consider the principles of SEO – links, metrics, human traffic, and rankings – not to mention book-ending your social media with a quality website.

    Too many people obsess over rankings and algorithms when it comes to SEO, but it is all about customer engagement, usability standards, and more importantly conversions and sales.

    Not to mention the fact numerous studies have been done to prove if Social Media sites such as Twitter where great at driving traffic. Turns out the findings were all the same – the vast majority of traffic came from Google.

    My opinion, if you feel the need to abandon SEO and using search engines to drive qualified traffic, I wish you and your site the best of luck. However, I highly suggest integrated SEO and Social Media together, because that is where you’ll get the highest ROI. If people are searching, they’re likely discussing the topic in the social world. If your peers suggest a service/product socially, and can also be found in search engines, that will lead your users on the path to conversion. No matter how you spin in it, Google is the driving force of Digital Marketing… like it or not, it’s just the way it is.

  35. I love this post….which does boil down to writing for humans vs. machines.

    As always, it’s about the people that use those machines. Connect with people and everything follows, which works very much the same in the real world too…

    I say use both SEO + Social Meda, SEO can still give you a ton of traffic and behind SM, SEO will be a main source of traffic.

  36. Jason fox says: 11/09/2010 at 4:17 am

    I work with real estate professionals and help them with maerketing. Inevitabley they are interested in learning about SEO. It is like the magic pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I like to say that while i do not think you should ignore SEO, it should not be your primary focus. I also agree that more focus should be on social media. Great article!

  37. Blogging is a tough job and Gary you just explained why. Good article. As a writer first, I will keep hoping that quality can somehow be evaluated in a positive way.

  38. As Antii and others have said above, you make some great points, but overall your position is short-sighted.

    Focusing on Social Media to the total detriment of SEO is foolish, and vice-versa. You are right, but you are also wrong.

    SEO is tedious and time consuming, and it pays long term dividends.

    Social Media is tedious and time consuming, and it pays short term dividends.

    Try this experiment:

    1) Optimize a single web page for a particular keyword using basic SEO fundamentals.

    2) Optimize a similar page for a similar keyword using nothing but Social Media.

    3) Record each page’s traffic and SERP rankings 2, 5, and 10 years from now.

    You posit that changes in Google’s algorithm can affect a site’s traffic, but what about new game-changers in the Social Media sphere? Social Media is a fickle beast (how much traffic do you get from MySpace these days?), and Facebook and Twitter will be gone in ten years, abandoned for the next big thing.

    Search engines on the other hand (though they are admittedly continually evolving) are here to stay.

    This is why you don’t see the big brands with the big resources wasting their time on building a huge social media presence – because it will mean nothing a few years from now.

    You have to be both strategic (SEO) and tactical (Social Media) to excel in the long run.

    Great post – it made me think!!!

  39. I agree that branded websites have a higher weight then blogs, but if you blog keeping in mind that google’s blog search is only for blogs and make simple seo (titling with keywords, for instance) you could do both without adding too much to your time constraints. True?

  40. The only thing this post shows is how inexperienced you are working in different verticals. Writing “don’t worry about SEO. Make sure your permalinks make sense, create a site map, install the appropriate plugins … and then stop worrying about it” without knowing the companies business goals, products/services, competition, or resources is like giving a business owner a detailed online marketing strategy without asking what they do.
    There are so many factors involved. I would agree there are some circumstances that your article may be true for some companies, but a completely wrong strategy for others.
    What about paid search and email marketing? Should we stop worrying about optimizing those too?

  41. The best article i have read here in some time i totally agree, Thanks.

  42. Excellent article. I had the same vague feeling about the topic but now I understand better what I thought the wole time.
    Thanks a lot.

  43. I write for humans not for algorithms… and though I rank #1 at the moment in the keyword I’ve been working for, I don’t expect that ranking to last… whereas the reputation I am building in LinkedIn and Facebook should last and be of greater value in the long run. Thanks for you good insights.

    All the best.

  44. Gary,

    You have some good points for the power of Social Media, and the fact that we are all posting comments is a testament to that. However, overall your post is short sighted. SEO is not dead nor is it a waste of time. It sounds like you are looking for the easy road to riches.

    A sensational blog post, video or some other form of social media, may burn hot for a short time, but then fades away just as quickly. And guess what, to keep people’s attention and continue to have traffic, you need to keep writing sensational blog posts. How is that less work than SEO?

    Your comment about ROI on SEO interesting: “The concept of time ROI is absent from almost any discussion on SEO.” Huh? Clearly you haven’t been working with the right people if you believe this. A well done SEO plan coupled with analytics software will show you just how well or not well your SEO efforts are doing.

    Google proof? What was the hot thing four years ago? Or what will be hot four years from now. Maybe social media.. maybe not.

    At any rate, there is great power in social media and SEO. A better interpretation of how things are changing would be that the two fields are merging not that one is more important than the other.

  45. Gary, with Smm you will achieve faster and cheap results, but with seo you can achieve more efficeint results and more sales. Traffic that come from social sites is with very-very low quality.

  46. Your article contradicts itself. It shows how powerful a brand can be in SEO and how easy it is for brands to get traffic but then goes on to say how hard it is and how much work is involved in SEO.

    Build a solid brand, get SEO traffic to it, and the social media traffic will come if the content is good. That way your content is shared from MULTIPLE sources instead of looking artificial coming from your obvious social media marketing tactics.

    The way this thing works is people find your blog via search and share your content giving it the perfect storm of exposure that is SEO to viral content. The folks that find it via search also bookmark it and share all the cool new stuff you put out as well.

  47. This is a bald-faced lie which anyone who has spent time trying to rank for a keyword knows.

    SEO experts shouldn’t be ranking for a keyword period – that’s not good SEO. People don’t search for keywords, they search for phrases. If you (as in a general you) think that SEO simply means creating blog posts or articles focused on a keyword or a handful of keywords, you’re a) going to write stilted content and b) probably aren’t going to get too many page views.

    There’s no reason for SEO content to read like robotic, stilted copy. Good SEO writers know how to seamlessly integrate keyphrases or terms while adding, as you say, “alliteration, puns, jokes and other forms of word play.” If people can tell you’re doing SEO, it ain’t good enough.

    Why should we throw away SEO in favor of social media? Why can’t we do both, have the best of both worlds? I really think if you limit yourself to only one method of finding quality visitors, you could really hurt yourself. Social media alone may work for you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for everybody.

  48. Gary you are so right on the money. SEO is important of course, but blogging and giving people content is the best way to generate traffic, trust and more. I shared your article on my site and on my linkedin profile.

    Keep this good information coming. People need to know where to put their time in for the best ROE and more

  49. My site has been up for a couple of months, I produce good content but I have a limited amount of time. I have been wondering where to put my effort and have just started a month long trial of Scribe SEO. After that I shall put in a month long effort into social media. I think some kind of split test is the only way to determine the result for yourself. I will not write for SEO, my voice is my brand.

  50. Social Media is better when you want personal or brand authority, for ranking higher SEO is still more important in my opinion.

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A Practical Podcast…