One of the more interesting paths that Internet marketing has led into is the area of Social Media Optimization (SMO). The term SMO was coined by Internet expert Rohit Bhargava as a catch phrase to what is happening in the Internet these days: a unique way to increase website traffic. In a way, SMO is an offshoot of search engine optimization, exploring new channels other than the omnipresent search engines. Will SMO potentially unseat search engine optimization as a means to attract huge traffic to websites?
TO answer that, we need to know what it is in the first place, and how it is different, or similar, to search engine optimization.
First, social media is the playground of SMO. SMO takes advantage of the unique ability of social media services to gather a global audience — people who share information and build relationships online. SEO practitioners have begun to leverage social media sites like Twitter to lure people, not search engines, into websites. These days, it’s not unusual for marketers to spend time Twittering for SEO, an activity that involves cultivating Twitter accounts, building a following and being followed. They establish relationships with users, blending in with the rest of the Twitter population, and posting attention-grabbing tweets about client websites.
Twittering for SEO means building communities within Twitter that sends and receives marketing messages. Unlike traditional search engine optimization that positions websites to be noticed by search engines, and whose foremost goal is to be ranked at Google’s first page, twittering for SEO is the proverbial word-of-mouth. Twitter’s online micro-blogging feature allows any message to spread fast all across the Twittersphere. When this message spreads, the recipients are real people, and when real people notice, they click on links, translating to instant traffic to the website clicked.
SMO means modifying websites to make them more linkable and friendlier to Twitter’s search engines. With traditional search engine optimization, site optimization is done with a mind for adhering to search engine algorithms.
Twittering for SEO also includes many of the techniques involved in traditional search engine optimization. Generating traffic through relevant content, perceptive marketing, link-building, and community participation remain effective methods to market a site.
Nevertheless, twittering for SEO also has many distinct differences over standard search engine optimization. Because the audience for SMO are real people and not search engine bots alone, extra care should be observed when marketing a concept or a site. To generate a wider audience for a product, SMO means knowing the target audience more carefully. Content need to be more relevant, useful and something of value to users. Moreover, twittering for SEO means participating more actively in community threads, to sustain awareness of the product or website being marketed.
Successfully twittering for SEO to drive traffic to sites means being conscious of the social side of Internet marketing — using all the tact and diplomacy similar to when marketing directly and face-to-face.
What does this mean for Internet marketing? Simply that two marketing channels are better than one. As SMO evolves to uncover more techniques to drive mass traffic to sites, SMO plus good old SEO practices are more effective to achieve this goal than any one of them alone.