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Social Media Optimization: SMO is the New SEO – Part 2

Originally published in the Shutterstock newsletter as a two-part series…Part I / Part II

To keep things consistent, I didn’t change the headline. However, for the sake of reading this post in context, SMO should be part of an overall SEO strategy (SEO + SMO = Amplified Findability in the traditional and social Web)

In the previous post, I discussed the importance of social objects (images, videos, blog posts, comments, status updates, wall posts, etc.) in a Social Media Optimization campaign. This month, I am going to explore the five major ways that these social objects can be contextualized: keywords, titles, descriptions, tags and/or links.


Keywords are the terms that people use to find relevant information in searches. When selecting keywords for your social objects, it’s important to remember that the keywords used by customers and influencers are not always what you think they’d be. To help, I suggest visiting Google Adwords to generate keyword ideas:

It’s also important to use Web analytics on your Website or blog to see how people are phrasing searches to arrive at your site. This allows you to calibrate your keywords accordingly.


Titles refer to the official designation or name of your content. Instead of focusing on a sensational or controversial title as in other forms of marketing, headlines on the social web should feature title tags and keywords upfront. In Social Media, your headline must contain the keywords that explicitly match the search patterns of the people you hope to reach.


Descriptions further refine the context of your social object to entice visitors to view and circulate your content amongst their social graph.

The description field is your chance to frame an object in order to further convince the viewer to click through to it. A good rule of thumb when writing descriptions is to make sure that your copy includes at least three keywords related to your business/brand and target viewers – without reading as text explicitly written to manipulate search results.


Tags are keywords that further group and organize your Social Object within the social network.

Tags are based on folksonomy, a system of classification derived from the practice of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content within specific networks. In order to make sure that your tags are categorized most effectively, make sure they include keywords related to the branding and marketing of your product, as well as its competition.


Links are the currency of the Web and serve as the primary undercurrent of search engine optimization. As in SEO, links help fuel traffic (as measured in views) to your social object, and contribute to your ranking within initial search results. Links equate to authority, and by amassing an extensive inbound linking infrastructure, the visibility of your social object can earn significant inertia. This, in turn, allows it to traverse from resident social network searches to appear in matching results in traditional search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

For example, sharing a link on Twitter and Facebook that points back to a video on YouTube extends the reach of the video to people in one or more forums, potentially connecting them to your content. If individuals within these outside social networks decide to share the video across their social graphs, we further extend the visibility and the authority of each object.

No brand is an island. As many online activities begin with a search, creating and deploying strategic beacons of information within targeted social networks creates roads and bridges back to you or the brand you represent. This “inbound” form of unmarketing, enriched through strategic SMO, helps us connect our value and our story to those who are already searching for solutions and guidance. We’re either part of the results or we’re unfortunately absent from further consideration.

While we can’t be everywhere at all times in social media, social objects can serve as our representatives in order to spark meaningful conversations now and in the future.

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153 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Social Media Optimization: SMO is the New SEO – Part 2”

  1. MeganBucher says:

    “No brand is an island.” I love it!
    This information is going to enrich what I bring to the table in so many ways.
    Truely grateful for the guidance!

  2. uribar1 says:

    Exactly. I commented on your previous post emphasizing the synergy effect of SEO and SEM working togther, and this post is explaining this strategy perfectly.
    One question:
    How would you compare the efforts B2C should make versus B2B? Would a B2B company use a different strategy, or just different tactics?
    Thanks again,

  3. Will Fleiss says:

    How about SMO is SEO. I don't see anything new hear…

    • briansolis says:

      Will, many marketers view SEO as a strategy for amplifying visibility within traditional search. I don't see many SEO pros manipulating content at the object level to boost results specifically within social networks, and when they do, it's treated as a separate project away from our traditional web work and billed under a line item of SMO.

    • Will Fleiss says:

      Hi Brian, I know of plenty SEO professionals who optimize social objects within social networks (i.e. Youtube) to improve rankings. These efforts are usually done with the goal of achieving both social and “traditional” search results. I see you're point that it is often a separate line item, but I think calling SMO the NEW SEO implies that more traditional SEO campaigns are no longer important. There is still SOOO much long hanging fruit with regards to Fortune 500 companies getting their on-page SEO ducks in a row (this study came out today…). I wouldn't want this definition to confuse marketers about where their money is best spent with regards to SEO.

    • briansolis says:

      Let's make sure that everyone walks away from this message, “SMO is important as a function of an overall SEO strategy….”

    • Will Fleiss says:

      Yes…well put Brian

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