Lee Odden

Future Trends for Marketers in Search & Social Media

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media

Social Media SEOThe intersection of SEO and social media marketing continues to gain traction amongst online marketers everywhere you look in the industry. As an example, the enthusiastic interest in our recent compendium of blog posts, Essentials of Integrating SEO & Social Media. I think most experienced marketers “get” that SEO and Social Media functions are less effective as distinct channels within a marketing program and work better as a coordinated effort.

Integration of Social and SEO makes sense for a variety of reasons when considering evolving consumer information discovery behaviors. Even so, I think a lot of companies are looking for direction and what’s next. This week Brandon Prebynski and I chatted on his Webtrends.TV show about the mix of search and social media and one area we discussed that I think is worth sharing here is about future direction.

There are two areas of focus (out of many) I think are worth considering with future of search and social media for marketers. First, is the technology that powers the search and social media experience for consumers. The second is the logistics of implementing integrated search and social media campaigns within a company.

On the technology side, you have search becoming increasingly influenced by social signals. For example, Google and Bing are getting feed data from Twitter and Facebook. If you’re logged in to Google, your search results can be annotated by things your friends have shared on Quora or Flickr. Erik Sherma recently covered the award to Facebook of a patent for curated search that combines any type of search engine results with the popularity of each result among members of a user’s social network which shows another direction social sites are taking to make search more social.

True social search is something the engines have been trying at for a long time, but now the momentum Facebook has with 600 million users gives them a lot of data and an audience with which to experiment. From a technology standpoint I think we’ll see an increasing level of influence and integration of social based signals on traditional search activity. The race for true social search is between search engines like Google adding social signals and features vs. social giants like Facebook adding more significant search functionality to their platforms. Who will win is up to consumers.

Logistically within companies we’ll see less silos between search marketing and social media functions. While it’s been up for debate a while, many companies’ social media is managed by Public Relations and SEO is managed by Marketing.

There’s an growing convergence of responsibilities between PR and Marketing. The value of relationships and influence are increasingly appreciated by online marketers. Alternatively, PR and communications professionals are beginning to value search based discovery as they look for ways to communicate more value for their efforts.

PR departments are already creating content, why not make it easy for their target audience (journalists, analysts, bloggers and direct consumers) to find via search? Google sites alone handle 88 billion queries per month – that’s an overwhelming quantity of behavior and too significant to ignore.

As part of the effort to improve the connection between searchers and content, people in the social media content creation business would do well to consider things like a keyword glossary when creating their content marketing strategy and editorial plans.

Search marketers have traditionally used social media as distribution channels for promoting content to drive a flood of traffic. Many of those SEOs are beginning to appreciate the equity in relationships (community) that they can build through social channels so they don’t have to work so hard creating new connections every time they have a new link bait campaign.

Mastering the convergence of SEO and Social Media with Content Marketing starts with an appreciation of how consumers prefer to discover, consume and share information online.

Google’s Panda update is yet another reminder to focus on content that engages. Marketers that make great content easy to find via social channels and links will be rewarded with even more relevant traffic through search engines like Google and Bing.

What can companies do to become more effective search and social media marketers? The simple answer is to develop an approach to online marketing that focuses on customer centric content that’s keyword and social media optimized. Follow how content is consumed and shared – make it easy to do those things while monitoring and engaging to develop networks and relationships. Continue to keep business outcomes in mind and be thoughtful about how success will be measured short and long term.

As many companies deal with figuring out how search and social media will work together, I am curious what your experiences have been?

  • How important is the integration of search and social in your company’s current marketing mix?
  • Are you incorporating SEO and social media efforts more or less since last year?
  • What positive outcomes have you seen as a result of incorporating SEO & Social Media Marketing?

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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. Lee,
    In life we rarely slow down to say simple things like, “thank you.” After reading this article, I felt compelled to do so. You continue to provide super, useful content to the marketing community. Thank you and continued success,

  2. Great Read, I’ve been singing the need for integration for some time. I hope your prediction of silos coming down comes to fruition, in my experience this is the major stumbling block. I find myself mapping out a campaign more for scale then anything else, always having to think about “How are we going to execute (and communicate) across particular silos” and what is their time frame for adoption? I think from a campaign level it encourages de-siloing but then it would depend on what or who drives the company are they marketing driven or strictly financial or are they somewhere in between.

  3. We launched a new marketing venture recently and have already received tremendous SEO success from actively participating in social media and managing an engaging and keyword rich blog. The integration of search and social in our company’s current marketing mix has been vital in helping our new website (a new domain with relatively few inbound links) rise in search rankings. Through engaging with fellow bloggers in our space and participating in social media forums such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Quora, we managed to hit our website visitor and engagement targets in our first month. I recently wrote about how this is also an effective strategy for startups. If you’re interested, you can read my opinion here and offer your comments: http://bit.ly/e7mrUs As a community manager, I am always searching for better ways to help our clients do the same. Do you have specific advice on how B2B companies can effectively integrate SEO and social strategies?

  4. Great advice about the marriage of SEO and social media rather than have them working as 2 distinct individual entities. Simple but vital advice!

  5. Lee – Nice read. To answer one of your questions, I’ve found the by-product of keeping SEO in mind when you are creating content is you really do get better at communicating with and helping your audience – you learn more about them and learn to speak their language.


    • Especially in the cycle of social & SEO – the more interaction with web content that you can track web analytics on, the more data there is to act on intelligently for editorial plans.

  6. I actually use SEO in for my company Facebook page. SEO with search terms in Google or Yahoo are to broad for skateboarding and snowboarding. I can narrow down my search to age groups and specific interests. It creates a much higher turn around to attract exactly the right people. So I use SEO on a social media platform. Great article!

  7. Its undeniable that small companies should have both search and social media campaigns for maximum exposure and branding but it will be best if they could add banner campaigns as well. I got the services of advancedwebads for my banner campaigns. It is cheap for their unlimited impressions and clicks for just a flat monthly fee. They’ll sure get the results needed.

  8. Our experience is that Search & Social Media Marketing offers a great combination of tools and techniques – hence we developed a course that aims to combine the Search & Social Media Marketing into one structure see http://www.searchmarketing.salford.ac.uk/ this allows both SEO and SMO concepts to be examined in parallel and helps businesses to capitalise on both to generate better ROIs.

  9. A very interesting post, my answer to the questions are:

    The importance of search and social media is very high within my company, in terms of search we get almost all of our new customers through search, in terms of Social Media, we have now started to integrate various social channels into our business I.e. twitter, facebook, youtube & linkedin. We are already generating product interest from these networks and we are building future sales. The mix of social media will increase as the year goes on.

    We are continuing our search efforts pretty much the same as last year but we are definitely focusing more on Social Media this year and integrating the two channels

    We have seen some positive traffic and enquiries following various activities on twitter * youtube.

    I think using Social Media to show the personalities that drive your business is a massive opportunity and will in turn create a network of loyal customers. An example of this is our recent behine the scenes Youtube video we have produced http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI7BjLij49g

  10. Avatar Anonymous says

    Thank you, as always, for your thought-provoking post. To answer your question, we are a relatively large B2B technology company (www.sas.com) with a focused marketing plan to integrate Search and Social.

    As a marketing leader, my focus is to improve all areas that enhance Search, both paid and natural. Let’s face it, our buyers are Technology oriented and they begin their buying journey with Search.

    We are implementing our own software called Customer Experience Analytics (CXA). The early reports show a remarkable link between Social, Search and other web content. Customers are coming to our website from our blogs, Facebook, and other social sites, interacting with our web content and Chat, before a direct contact is made.

    It’s all fascinating! Thrilled to be a marketer during these interesting times.

  11. Nice post Lee! Great to see a fellow marketer who still knows that social media is best used in sustainable ways to drive consistent traffic, not just to push daily deals.

  12. Avatar komal websolutions.com says

    Especially in the cycle of social & SEO – the more interaction with web content that you can track web analytics on, the more data there is to act on intelligently for editorial plans.

  13. In the UK currently only 32% of businesses are engaged with Social Media, with Facebook attracting 750,000 new users a day and events such as the BP Oil Crisis generating millions of tweets, two thirds of which referenced another Social Media source, you’d be crazy not to engage!!

    The lines between SEO, SEM, Social Media and Digital PR and blurred, you have to embrace all three if your business, brand or campaign is to succeed.

    Richard – Search & Social Media

  14. I think we are only seeing the beginning stages of the SEO/social beast that is growing in front of us. I see more and more start-ups focusing on how to make that connection with online and being social while providing a substantial marketing focus. All I can say is hold onto the ride we because it is only getting started.