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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. Akash Sharma says:

    Great insight in the typical “Brian Solis” style, I think SMO depends a lot on the human internet sharing capabilities in comparison to the much techy sibling SEO, I would look forward to the third installment of this series as It would be interesting to know how can we easily catch up with both of them as sometimes SEO ruins the effectiveness of a well written copy.

  2. Loved your post as well as the comments/conversation that resulted. Thank you, Brian, for providing your insights and a sense of clarity to this topic.

  3. Sean Ward says:

    I really like this! it's a new paradigm for how we have to think about how we get our content noticed. I love it because it goes back to the one eternal truth that the way to success is by being good and being prolific.

  4. jacobmorgan says:

    “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)”

    Yes, any good/competitive SEO will make great use of social media.

    • briansolis says:

      Yes, indeed.

      For those readers who are not SEO professionals, but instead those who employ them or should consider employing them, this post serves as an overview of optimization requirements that extend beyond the traditional web and static web sites. Marketers need to come to the table with a balance of needs and expectations in order to collaborate intelligently and effectively. This is truer today than ever before as businesses are now factoring content production of social objects into the overall mix.

    • jacobmorgan says:

      Definitely agree on that one. Marketers need an understanding of SEO/social media and how they work together. I think you did a good job of covering the important elements here, and thanks for clarifying, looking forward to reading the book

  5. Ryan says:

    Brian, A clear and concise view of SMO. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Paul Gailey says:

    The marketers have moved on to more nuanced grounds but the argument in the boardroom can remain somewhat binary like at times. “yesterday we were Nº whatever on Google for our keyword, now we are down to Nº whatever-3, WTF SMO?”

    Every CEO can Google their marketing teams` efforts and seemingly verify their efficacy in a moment. Seemingly: And that´s the rub with SMO, it´s just not so immediately apparent to the non-marketeer what is going on or how to get a grip if it´s all stacking up.

  7. Ilya says:

    Excellent resource. Thanks for the insights.

  8. Eric Saylor says:

    Quality. How well can SMO be tracked? What devices would we use?

    And wouldn't if be nice if we actually could be in all the places we wanted to be? We knew of all the people who actually posted quality information about what we want 🙂 I like the post. I'll definitely be back.


    Eric Saylor

  9. Jon says:

    Hi Brian. A great summary of SEO basics as they relate to SMO. I think until recently traditional SEO companies haven't really understood SMO and those who market in the socila media space have largely been ignorant of SEO. But times are changing. Smart marketers are integrating all their optimisation efforts. It's all about visibility.

  10. bradfordbarker says:

    Hi Brian. While I definitely agree that social media is an integral part of any SEO campaign, I have a major problem with the term “Social Media Optimization.” I just published a blog post in response to your blog today –… – I would love your feedback.

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