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Social Media vs Search Engines for Blog Traffic: Who Wins in Content Marketing?


I have posted previously about an ongoing MBA class on content marketing called Marketing with Social Media that I am teaching at a university in Silicon Valley. We just wrapped up our 7th of 11 weeks. And I have some numbers regarding the social media versus search engine debate.

All 73 students started their websites out from zero. No domain. No hosting. No idea of the difference between tagline and ‘tag, you’re it’. No nothing.

Some of them have been posting very faithfully, using specifically the SEO guidelines I gave them for each post. Well, sorta kinda. As much as people, especially students, follow rules in general that is. We also have a great back linking strategy. And and and …

Question: What performs better? Sending people to sites via your social networks or just writing good stuff and letting the search engines do their thing?

Answer: The course is 45 days old. I took three screen shots from Google Analytics. The reader can compare Facebook referrals to Google organic traffic. (I know. I know. There are other social networks. There are also other search engines.)

Compare the following three 15-day time periods.

Feb 17 – Mar 3


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The students worked their Facebook networks and in the end social network traffic outperformed organic search. It makes sense. The sites were still finding their feet and search was still finding them.

Mar 4 – Mar 18

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Click to see a larger version of this image.

Facebook referrals remained constant, but search results more than doubled as well as outperformed social networking.

Mar 19 – Apr 2

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Click to see a larger version of this image.

Facebook referrals dropped a little but organic search continued to increase – another 13%.

At the risk of overwhelming you screenshots and numbers take a look:

Facebook traffic dropped 33% from 617 visits the last week of Mar/Apr compared to 415 the last week of Feb/Mar.

Organic traffic increased 58% from 697 visits the last week of Mar/Apr to 1100 the last week of Feb/Mar.

One more thing – organic traffic grew by itself. That is my students wrote something and turned off their computers, while with social networking, traffic requires the student to write something and do something else, login elsewhere and promote, interact, build, smooze.

I may be wrong, but after a time, the promotion of content elsewhere = on social networks, gets cumbersome, tiresome, and loses its effectiveness. However, with search traffic, as long as the content is meaningful, follows the rules of good SEO, will continue to grow.

Who wins in the social media vs search engine debate when it comes to content marketing?

Blogs win.

Unless, that is, you have a different experience that you would like to share in a comment below.

Blekko: New Search Engine Using Slashtag Technology


Blekko is a new search engine that launched in beta yesterday. The site is designed to eliminate spam search results using proprietary slashtag technology.

What’s a slashtag? According to blekko, it’s a tool to filter search results. Rather than searching the entire web, a slashtag allows you to search just the sites you want searched. There are three types of slashtags that you can search by …

User Generated: These are the slashtags that you and/or other users make. They’re personal takes of what are the best sites on the web for various types of searches. You can invite friends to view yours, or search out what your friends have added.

Built In: These slashtags tell blekko to search a specific type of site, like blogs or news or sites associated with people.

Topic Slashtags: These are slashtags that blekko created to search only the top sites for specific topics. In their beta launch these topic slashtags exist for seven categories (health, colleges, autos, personal finance, lyrics, recipes and hotels). More categories are in the works, but the company selected these seven because they tend to have the highest spam results.

So how did they come up with their results? People. A group of users added and edited URLs for these seven topic categories. Of course, the results are then only as good as the people who created them.

Tell us … is blekko a search engine that you would find useful? If so, how and when would you use it? Do you think it’s an effective way to drive traffic to your own website?

Overheard on #Blogchat: Conscious Keyword Strategy (@grtaylor2)


Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Open mic night!

Whenever there’s an open mic night at #blogchat, you never know where the conversations will go. I didn’t get to participate myself tonight, but one of the tweets that stood out in the transcript was this one:

@grtaylor2: I go into every post w/ a conscious keyword strategy. Then, I write the content for the audience.

My first instinct is to want to argue. No! Do not write for search engines! You have to write for your readers! What are you doing?!? WRONG!

But in reflecting a bit, I think grtaylor2’s tweet is spot on the money because he used one word: conscious.

Keyword use in blog posts can be downright horrible. I’ve seen posts where not only were keywords stuffed into the text unnaturally, but the overall information in the post just didn’t make sense. If you’re writing for search engines, you’re never going to build a viable blog, unless you can also offer something of value. And because so many people make the mistake of using keywords in a crappy way, I think many bloggers have the natural reaction of wanting to argue anyone who says they write with keyword strategy in mind.

But this approach can make sense. In actuality, if you don’t consider keywords at all, you probably are doing a disservice to readers.


Because frankly, if certain keywords are popular, that means that people are interested in those topics. That doesn’t mean that you need to stuff your blog posts with keywords to pull in traffic, but if you’re ignoring your readers’ concerns, you’re missing out the opportunity to really help your community.

Check out your stats. What keywords are bringing people to your blog? These are topics where you can expand with more posts. Check out search engine reports. What keywords are popular in your topic area? These are topics you should cover if you haven’t already.

Yes, you should focus on awesome content, but the conscious addition of keywords can also help you reach out to people who don’t yet know about your blog. Good keyword strategy can help you build your community, not just drive up your traffic numbers. Don’t ignore this way of connecting with your readers.

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