Content, Search and Social: A Love Triangle

Caitlin Livingston & the Pyramids
My wife Caitlin “holds” a pyramid in her hands…

Experienced online marketers know there is no avoiding integrating content, search and social for a complete Internet strategy. They are irrevocably tied together, and increasingly so with Google, Bing and other search engines focused on adding social context to search.

I was reminded of this reading Top Rank Blogger and CEO Lee Odden‘s Optimize, which tackles the triple crown of online marketing – SEO, social media, and content marketing – with a deft hand. If you haven’t read it yet, Optimize does a great job of taking readers through the process of conducting research, choosing approaches, and encouraging familiar and new tactics alike to optimize just about every imaginable part of your online presence.

The dirty secret about social media was that in the beginning it was completely search driven with content and blogs sourced as primary content. Marketers began using blogs to compliment traditional marketing and trumping traditional web pages with fresh new content. Then social networks like Facebook and Twitter became entrenched in the online space. Search increasingly used social verification to qualify online content.

The result is a seamless intertwining of the three disciplines. Social is how people hear about you, search is how they find you, and content is how they qualify you. None of them alone are strong enough to succeed, but together organizations can deploy knock-out online marketing strategies.

Content, Search and Social Media
Another way of visualizing content, search and social together

Alone, unoptimized content — while it may be good — is not found. Alone, search optimization may drive traffic but people will “bounce” and leave. Similarly, social may drive attention and traffic, but if your content is not relevant (a la inbound marketing principles) or searchable, it loses opportunities. That’s why it’s so important to build every aspect of an online presence with a combined view of customer interests and relevant topics (so they like your content and share it), search optimization via balanced keyword methodologies, and social optimization.

In the end, it’s all about helping people find your information. They are looking for answers. As Lee said in the book, “The primary value provided by search engines is to connect people with answers, and that fact shouldn’t be lost in the sea of tactics, tricks and pontification that goes on in the digital marketing world.” Making sure content, search and social work well together is the best way to achieve that worthy goal.

When you think of online marketing, do you think of content, search and social?

17 thoughts on “Content, Search and Social: A Love Triangle

  1. Geoff, this post says it all. I saw a mention of the Lee Odden book and his concept of the three disciplines and how they have (or ideally should) merged in today’s effective online marketing. We’ve seen this happen right in front of our eyes, yet I found myself reminded by the mention of his book and now by your post. Good stuff.

  2. Thanks Geoff, great summary of Optimize and the larger trend occurring with marketing and communications on the web. Thanks for the link to Michael’s post too – it looks like the tide is rising :)

  3. This is a cracking simplification of the online marketing challenge. Would you extend the concept of social marketing in the “triple crown” above to encompass brand & social marketing? The two are heavily intertwined, good social marketing builds your brand and good brand building builds your social presence. Brand presence then feeds into search, particularly in light of Google’s continuing shift towards brands.

    • Of course it is! It’s a blog post! If it was a book, it would have depth.

      Social marketing can mean many things from cause marketing to using social media to market. I agree that social marketing in the latter sense is part of the mix, but I would include that as part of social media, much as I would add social business to it, as it too, uses social media as the primary tool set.

      Branding is overarching and extends beyond online to every part of a company.  In that sense, interactive belongs as a part of a larger conversation, one which we discuss in my new book Marketing in the Round. 

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