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Social Media Traffic Quality

June 30th, 2008 · 5 Comments

BLUF- Is SMO (Social Media Optimization) generated traffic lower quality than SEO (Search Engine Optimization) traffic?  My conclusion, it’s extremely difficult to measure and it’s also too soon to tell.


In an excellent post James Duthie lays out a classic experiment comparing two blogs.  His conclusion is that the quality of traffic generated by the SMO site is lower than the quality of traffic generated by SEO.  In his words;

“A clean sweep of loyalty and engagement metrics certainly provides evidence to support the theory that search engines generate superior quality traffic. In 3 of the 4 metrics, the search engine supported blog generated a clear lead over the social media supported blog. And while other factors undoubtedly influence each engagement metric, the fact that Marketing Easy led all 4 categories removes some of the doubt relating to external influences.”

I’m not going to quibble over the methodology, although I feel there are questions.  My argument is with the test in it’s basic form. SMO is too new to generate any significant movements and therefore will fail when measured against any other form of advertising or outreach.  It’s simply not big enough to move the meter today.

Over the past week I attended two conferences which included SMO issues.  And it is clear to me that we are in the earliest phase of the social media revolution.  My overall impression of Omma Social was one of confusion.  Some of the best and most prominent minds in Social Media were on stage and they were clearly making it up as they go along (IMHO).

One thing stuck in my mind from Omma Social:

Paul Beck Sr. Partner & Executive Director of Digital at Ogilvy Worldwide said “Social Media is less than one half of one percent of our Digital Advertising Budget.”

This statement by Mr. Beck indicates that SMO’s reach and impact are far from being realized.  Comparing SMO to SEO today is like early automobile versus horse races, the horse won.  But in the end everyone at the time knew that the car would eventually eclipse the horse.  So my conclusion is that’s it’s simply too early to run valid head to head tests between SMO and SEO.

What do you think?

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Tags: Reasonable Social Networking · Reasons For Net Marketing

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Andre // Jun 30, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Great post Chris!

    I’d have to say though that so far I’ve seen a dramatic influence in using social media marketing on my website, though we’ve built our traffic using it instead of adding it on later on. I can’t say it’s done better, but we can definitely tell when we’ve slacked on using SMO compared to SEO.

  • 2 Chris // Jun 30, 2008 at 1:00 pm


    I’ve seen a lot of traffic to my blog as a result of my SMO efforts as well. But I don’t think it can compete on a large scale with SEO, IMHO.

    Thanks for reading,

  • 3 David Berkowitz // Jun 30, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Great post.

    To be fair with the comparisons, while SMO doesn’t have much budget behind it, there generally isn’t much of an investment in SEO at most companies; the bigger focus is on paid search advertising.

    Secondly, SMO is a tightly connected with SEO, and often SMO is just one part of an SEO program. The two should be considered together, rather than competing.

  • 4 Chris // Jul 1, 2008 at 7:49 am


    I agree, it’s like separating PR from Marketing. In today’s always on, 24/7 world it’s difficult to delineate the cause and effect of SEO, SMO, PR, and Marketing on visitor behavior.

    It looks to me that they will all merge into a single homogeneous Reputation Management umbrella.

    Thanks for stopping by and for the kind compliment.


  • 5 Chris // Jul 2, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Another excellent study with very different results was done by Marketing Experiments and can be found here: http://www.marketingexperiments.com/ppc-seo-optimization/social-media-optimized.html

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