Blurred Lines: SEO-SMO Difference Is More Than Semantics

By August 5, 2014Blog, Social Media

You’ve likely heard the acronyms SEO and SMO bandied about. And you know both terms refer to the process of guiding traffic to your main Web site, the former via search and the latter via social media.

Recently SEO has gone through another shakeup. Its focus has shifted from backlinks and blogs to a deeper analysis of what’s happening to the content that’s created. The lines between SEO and social interaction are blurring, building links no longer guarantee online success, and laser-focused keywords with no context are not as valuable as they once were. The fact of the matter is, Google is getting smarter.

The new SEO buzzword is “semantic search.” Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding a searcher’s intent and contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable data space, thus generating more relevant results. In other words, when Google looks to rank a Web site, it looks at all of the data associated with it, including regularly updated content, quality of links pointing to your Web site, and, yes, your level of social activity.

If you are like most businesses, then you may be lagging behind on a few of these. It’s a tall order, especially when you’re already trying to run a business and focus on your specific areas of expertise. If you only have time to focus on a few search-related improvements, then here are three that are essential for winning over Google, as well as new clients.

Frequency And Social Activity

Imagine you went to a restaurant. The doors were open, the welcome sign was on, but when you entered the chairs were stacked on the tables, the floor was dirty, and the lights were off. You would wonder whether you were in the right place and probably leave. An inactive social stream will warrant the same response. Most Web sites bear standard social media icons, asking us to follow them on Twitter or Facebook. But often when we do, we find the digital version of a ghost town, with huge gaps in new posts and questions unanswered.

One word will fix all of this: consistency. Pick when you want to post and commit to it. Depending on the tool, you can even schedule updates. Build trust and confidence with would-be clients by showing them a welcoming environment.


Having a clear social message is key. Just like you would prepare a traditional marketing plan for your business, factoring in holidays and seasonal promotions, your social feeds should do the same. While the Internet collectively loves dancing cats, Google has a hard time prioritizing and validating your business based on videos and pictures of your talented feline friends. Consumers are ultimately selfish creatures who are interested in what you can do for them, so don’t always hard-sell them. This is an opportunity to show them your value.


We have all enjoyed the benevolence of Google and its free tools, from search and email to Drive and Docs. Google+, however, got off to a slow start, so to increase its user base, Google decided to incorporate social signals from its social network as key indicators of Web validity. The number of +1 followers you have now impacts your search position.

The Internet is a living entity, constantly growing and evolving. It can seem hard to keep up with this evolution, but taking advantage of these few tips will help you stay ahead of trends. SMO is the future of organic optimization, so take advantage of it if you want to reach the consumers who truly need your products and services.

–Ross McGarvey, CEO