Over the past 6-12 months or so, there has been some serious rivalries between the marketers who believe SEO is dead and those that do not. Obviously, social media is exploding and turning the web into a very different place than it was 3 or 4 years ago. Static web content is like newpaper, day old news, or even worse year old news. Whenever the SEO vs Social debate comes up, I always like to support my argument through traffic stats from our own site. Over the past 3 months, we’ve been on a serious traffic surge (about 280% monthly growth) and by simply analyzing where are traffic is coming from gives us a clear picture of how search and social impacts our business.
Traffic Break Down:
Search Engines: 39%
Social Media: 24%
Link Referral: 21%
Direct Traffic: 16%
From this breakdown, its obvious that search referrals are a huge piece of our referral traffic, but if you go one level deeper you’ll understand that most of our search referrals go to our blog pages vs our home page etc. Furthermore, if you investigate our link referrals, most of those come from bloggers that mention us vs a web directory for example. Hence, the argument could be made that those blogger links are considered social links vs SEO links.
Keep in mind we are a very specific case and I believe that every web property has unique search and social goals. In our case, 98% of our content is derived from our blog, we have no eCommerce, we have no account logins and all of our outbound “marketing” is through social mediums (Blogging, Twitter, Linkedin, Commenting etc.) vs paid advertising, so inherently our inbound links would be derived from those efforts.
Net net is that search relevance is changing rapidly and an effective SEO strategy must include an integrated social strategy and vice versa. SEO from a technology implementation perspective (ie site maps, internal link structure, copy optimization etc.) will continue to remain a vital piece of search optimization. On the other hand, however, many aspects of SEO could easily be considered social media, in that you are aggressively out selling your site/self/brand to relevant sites for referrals. Either way, both SEO and Social Optimization have the same goal: To generate trusted inbound link traffic to increase conversions. Like many, I see the lines between SEO and Social Optimization rapidly blurring over the next 12-18 months into a marriage between technology best practices and human interaction.