Many market observers have been predicting that the twin activity streams of SEO and social media services will eventually align and perhaps become indistinguishable from one another at some point in the future.
While it is still possible to argue both sides of the coin as to whether or not this prediction will ever come to pass, it is becoming increasingly hard to ignore the social side of the market when looking at statistics relating to the work of SEO professionals.
The 2012 SEO Industry Survey published by SEOmoz is perhaps the best example to use, since it delves into precisely what the job of optimising entails in the contemporary marketplace and comes up with an apparently simple answer which is Facebook appears to be important at the moment.
Econsultancy reports show that 76 per cent of SEO professionals spend most of their time establishing Facebook pages for business clients, subsequently maintaining them so that they provide on-going engagement with users of the site.
This activity has out-paced other more traditional SEO tasks such as analysing page load times, checking on the content of competing sites and using Google Analytics to analyse pertinent data that can help to improve a page’s rank.
Those who have been involved in SEO for a long time may understandably express some surprise at these figures, since they show that social issues are rapidly becoming a major focus for professionals in the industry, even though many would still consider the old school, tried and tested methods far more important.
At the moment it is relatively easy to make the distinction between an SEO expert and a social media marketing professional. The skill sets in these two areas do not necessarily overlap to the degree that you may imagine.
This means that asking a social media marketing professional to deal with natural search optimisation might not be the best idea since their experience will have left them ill equipped to handle the more technical elements of the task.
However, it is possible to imagine a future, in which the distinctions between these two roles become less and less clear, particularly if Facebook and its contemporaries continue to dominate the minds and task lists of those involved in SEO.
For companies which are trying to determine the type of services they require in order to improve the visibility of their website or to enhance user engagement with their brand via social media, the evolution of the market and the tools that it uses will become increasingly important.
It seems likely that social media will remain an element of the broader optimisation task, rather than dominating the entire industry. However, some people have a hard time seeing past Facebook or Twitter and in remembering that the web is a far larger, more complex environment than these services alone may suggest.
What impact the integration of SEO and social media skill sets will have in the long term and how this will ultimately shape the market remains difficult to accurately predict.
About the Author
Abbas Hussain is a blogger who talks about social media and seo for http://www.integrityseoexperts.co.uk/
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