Lee Odden

UnGoogle Your Marketing with Social Media

I think one of the ways you can sum up the idea of social media optimization and marketing is: “traffic alternatives to Google”. As great as Google is, marketers are increasingly looking for alternative and/or additional channels for content distribution and marketing and consumers for sources of information and interaction.

Some have suggested social search as an alternative. I don’t think social search will ever replace search engines as we know them today, but I do think the rate of growth for major search engines will certainly be affected by the growing number of niche tools and media specific channels such as social networks, social bookmarking sites, personalized search, tagging, podcasts, video blogs, regular blogs and other “social media”.

Some bloggers have been calling SMO (social media optimization) the next level of SEO, or SEO 2.0. SEO has grown out of it’s mainly technical roots and become more of a creative discipline. There will always be technical issues to solve though, since web sites and servers are technical things. It’s the creative and multi channel aspects of “pull marketing” that are defining the future of SEO.

What’s interesting is that more and more of our clients are asking for what amounts to alternatives to Google traffic. They’re doing great on Google and the other major search engines, but want other sources of “free” traffic. SMO/SMM provides that augmentation. These include MySpace, Digg, YouTube and other viral tactics.¬† For an excellent list of such opportunities, check out Rand’s list.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. >> “SEO has grown out of it

  2. Hello Lee,

    I think that one thing that we will start seeing is Google employing more “human based” elements into it’s search engine. SEOmoz noted (http://www.seomoz.org/blogdetail.php?ID=1371) a (potentially) new feature at Google whereby people could further specify what kind of search results they are looking for. Another new feature that I recently noticed at Google was that they asked me if they could record my searches and which results I clicked on so as to give me more personally tailored results in the future. These are just two examples of how Google is incorporating the human element into their search results.

    This, indeed, is almost inevitable. For any given search term there can be multiple intentions. As such there cannot be any one formula or algorithm which turns up relevant results for every search (how can a computer program know the intention behind the search term unless the person searching somehow or other indicates to the search engines their particular goal/interest/etc.? Therefore, in order to improve the quality of the search results the search engines are going to have to find various ways to involve real, live human beings. In that sense the search engines themselves can be seen as borrowing a page or two from the social media sites book.

    Be well,


  3. Right on Jon. And that’s why I have both a SEO firm and a PR agency. 🙂

    Moshe, I think what you are describing is caled the wisdom of crowds. Allow users to make millions of individual editorial decisions and overlay some smart algorithms on top of that along with historical data and you might have the next generation search engine.

  4. Hello Lee,

    I think you are right, I think that’s the direction Google seems to be heading in (I don’t know about Yahoo and MSN). Also, I’m sure that all the Search Engines are watching the social media sites carefully and trying to think of ways that they can incorporate some of their features into their sites (either as stand-alone products or as part of their search engines). The search engines are not going to sit back and just let del.icio.us, digg.com and other similar sites grab away their “customers”. After all, we are talking billions of dollars here in business.

    Be well,


  5. I think del.icio.us could be used for wisdom of the crowds type searching already, and is why Yahoo bought them

    Compare the results given by searching for ‘SEO’ on delicious and google
    and see which set of sites are more relevant.

  6. I agree totally Lee. The mindshift that you have to make with social media, is that an online strategy is not solely focused on your web site! It includes the

  7. Avatar Google Success says

    Very timely article ! Well, I agree that SEO can not be replaced entirely by SMO. The main purpose of any marketing campaign is to put products or services in front of as many potential buyers as possible. As per the recent trend, tens of mill??ons of registered members populate dozens of social networks. People appear to enjoy the ability to create communities and inform each other. So Online marketers looking for another winning venue are therefore turning to social media spaces as social marketing tools. SMO therefore will definitely be a powerful way of internet marketing.

  8. Social media is a cool, barely controlled environment in which individual users can form ??nstant communities, finding friendships based on shared interest, passion and ideas. But when internet marketers and corporate clients invade that territory, it will definitely degrade the experience shared amongst the people making up the social network. So, I feel too much exploitation of any such channel for commercial use will just kill the spirit behind such social networks.

  9. Social Media as a term for the Web 2.0 and SMO as terms for Social Media Optimization as just new buzzwords for the same thing. Using the internet to communicate effectively.

    It all comes down to meeting objectives in my opinion. Well, formulating measurable objectives and then meeting them via any means possible. Whenever I read about or hear someone say that they want traffic, I say why?

    Traffic is not good. Highly Targeted Traffic is good. Traffic is just time consuming and expensive. Highly targeted traffic that is somewhere on the tail of the buying cycle and actually brings with it revenue is excellent.

    No matter what type of marketing or PR you do, unless you are showing a ROI on your projects that is specifically related to your activity, you are blowing more smoke then really doing anyone any good.

    Whether it is through the use of Web 2.0 technology or a flyer at your post office, at the end of the day, unless it is making money it ain’t worth nothing.

  10. You bring up a good point Michelle and hopefully marketers will keep in mind that the best results from both a marketing and a user experience perspective will come from providing value. Exploiting social networks for short term gain will indeed degrade the overal experience. It will also shrink the user base of that network making it less of a resource for all.

    It’s not unlike press release distribution in that way. Sending out spammy press releases hurts the wire service credibility and those kinds of releases rarely generate any value for the marketer. Well written and compelling news gives the news wire credibility and also gets picked up by more media.

    Same goes for interaction with social media.

  11. If you really want to boil it down Dwight, it’s just marketing. No successful business markets without a focus on ROI.

  12. Lee,


  13. thatSEOguy, I have found search engine traffic to be better for conversions as well because the intent of a searcher on a regular search engine is typically focused on a particular outcome.

    A visitor from a social media site is often less focused and motivated by entertainment, exploration or information rather than the solving of a particular problem.

  14. How does traffic from social media sites compare to search engine traffic in terms of quality…do you know? From my own experience, search engine traffic converts far better than that of social media. It would be interesting to see a definitive study on this.

  15. Do you know of any case sudies where social media optimization has actually worked? How much traffic? Good conversion rates?

  16. Hey Buck, I have examples from our own efforts of using SMO for clients and our own sites. Most of the measurable outcomes are in the form of increased blog subscribers and incoming links, which as you likely know, possess traffic and ranking benefits. One client, who sells a book on his blog, doubled book sales for the month after one particularly nice run on digg and Stumble Upon.

  17. Hey all, youu can have your cake and eat it too: social media can be used for intentional search placement!

  18. Avatar Balazs Balint says

    Social media marketing, online marketing, online pr… I think all theese fields tend to return the real root of marketing: honesty and creativity. Viral marketing technics are about creativity, but a long term SMM can be only based on honest, real values. And that good I think. Of course we can’t forget the technical basics of SEO, but remember the guideline what Google said throught it’s history: “Do everything for the users not for the search engines!” Remeber!

  19. We routinely rank clients for whatever search they like using specially optimized wordpress blogs in conjuntion with proper SEO


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