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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. I like the breakdown! I love using keyword tools. Your keyword section brought up an interesting point about thinking of the view of the visitor and how they find you. I watched my own search behavior change, typing in 4 words into Google searches. I found longer tail keywords were rising like crazy, when before they were assumed to be a smaller source of traffic. I learned my lesson: just keep adjusting.

    “Creating and deploying beacons of information” is a nice way to think of it, well said. Recently for marketing my music, I've enjoyed using new social networks, only if they were optimized for representing my label. With a proper plan in mind, social media optimization came alive for me. Adding value to your story seems to be the goal.

    I'm picturing a seesaw with SEO on one side and SMO on the other. Great article Brian!

  2. InsuranceNick says:

    While I agree with your point that “links drive traffic” I've read that links generated via social media (e.g. a tweet or FB update) don't carry nearly the same SEO juice as backlinks from a reputable website or blog (e.g. blogroll listing). I think it's important to make a distinction between the value of one well-placed link versus 50 links generated from the re-tweet of a blog entry. Who knows, maybe there'll be a Part III…

  3. Hey there Brian, found your site through Technorati… It's damn great! This post just earned you a subscriber for life… Most people still aren't SEO literate, it's hard to imagine how many years it will be until most online “marketers” get their SMO straight…

    Great post, keep up the good work!

    Garrett Miller, Young Entrepreneur

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