SEO or SMO in France, which path to follow?


Fabrice M

Technical SEO

SEO or SMO in France, which path to follow?

In the ranking strategy for any business, a technique that you can’t avoid is SEO – “Search Engine Optimisation“. Basically, this term means the action to rank a site naturally, simply by being present on blogs/sites and using social media (for example YouTube, Daily Motion, Twitter, Facebook etc) to help create a strong backlink profile for the website. This is potentially a good way to help rank your site in the search engine’s results by simply sharing content, images, videos etc.

When you want your site to be ranked as high as possible in the SERPs, in addition to SEO, you can use a strategy called SMO or “Social Media Optimisation”, of which there is less awareness.

At Search Laboratory, we use these two methods because they are necessary to improve the ranking of your website. But can we have good SEO without SMO or do we need to use it in conjunction as a complementary tool?

Many French articles ask the question of how important SMO is within your SEO strategy…

Obviously, the French SEO industry doesn’t agree on everything. There are 2 principal reasons why:

– Difference in the definition of SEO.

– Difficulties in measuring the efficiency of SEO.

What is the job of an SEO expert?

Here at Search Laboratory, SEO is a challenge to increase the volume of targeted traffic to a website. To do this, we work to improve the ranking of sites and the better the position, the better the volume of traffic it will achieve, this takes a holistic approach. In France, some believe that their job is limited to the definition of SEO which says that they need to make client brands visible on the search engines alone.

In big companies, it’s possible that a team is solely responsible for the SEO and another team is responsible for the SMO. Rather than in some small companies where only one or two people are doing the SEO and SMO at the same time, making no distinction between them.

What kind of proof have we got on the impact of the SMO on the SEO?

Many experts like to say that SMO does affect SEO, but some think that it is better to spend time to improve their backlinks rather than waste time on Social Media. I don’t personally think that using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Dailymotion is a waste of time. Why? Basically because everything that is shared on Facebook, Twitter etc. is systematically used by other platforms and ultimately results in a link. So even if it’s not phenomenal, this technique (SMO) is a clever alternative to improve SEO and the ranking of a site naturally.

Yes but how long does the SMO effect last?

Once again, many French experts believe that the SMO hasn’t got a long effect on the rankings. And once again, I do not share the same opinion (even though I’m French) as I believe that social media is a big springboard which will allow higher rankings from the start of the strategy or campaign. Also, you need to keep in mind that Google checks everything, all the time, everywhere. The fact is that to have been shared via a social platform once is only a positive point for a page that you want to rank. Obviously, it doesn’t mean that the backlinking is not necessary after this, but it remains a very sure way to boost an SEO strategy.

If we are going to look under Googles skin…

Definitely, if there is one point where everybody agrees, it’s about the hegemony of Google in the market, ‘Bing’ and the others have just got the crumbs. Between 85% and 90% of the French use Google as their preferred search engine- and if we delve under Google’s skin, we can summarise as follows:

– Google is struggling to manage the ‘spam-indexing’

– Google will be absolutely mad not to use a ‘human validation’ on social media content

From this summary, we could almost say that social media is becoming a substitute for SEO. Maybe future algorithms will be more specific on this point. Maybe they will penalise a page if it hasn’t been shared enough.

But can we really say that the SMO affects SEO?

Definitely. Tweets, Facebook sharing and the Google+ button can directly affect website rankings.

It’s obvious that a page shared by hundreds or thousands of readers is becoming more visible by Google. The fact that a ‘human’ likes and shares a page improves the credibility of the page when it’s time for Google to rank that page.

This is maybe the real reason for the birth of the Google+ button. Rather than becoming competition for Facebook and the famous ‘Like’, is it not the case that they want to make a selection in the ranking strategy? Will Google give preferential ranking to those pages shared via Google+? This is another debate.

OK, so is it easy to rank a page just with some Tweets etc?

Effectively, to be Tweeted or shared, the page should propose content of high and unique quality. The theme or subject should be able to create controversy and engage the reaction of readers, create debates etc. Obviously, it’s not that easy to write very high quality and interesting content on the new tool necessary to fix a wardrobe. But if you were clever enough to make it more interesting to read, to understand via pictures or infographics you’ve got more chance of attracting people who will then share the page and make it more exposed; thereby increasing the ranking of this page for that theme.

Is using Social Media alone successful in France?

Well theoretically no, like in any country I would imagine? But if we take a look to some big French companies, it could make you consider the possibilities in the future. For example, Voyage SNCF (which is the equivalent of National Rail in England) announced that that they are generating 1 sale out of 6 via a shared page on Facebook. Not bad.

So do you need SMO in your SEO strategy or not?

To be honest, when I’m reading some SEO articles on French blogs or SEO magazines which announce the replacement of the pure SEO by the SMO, I’m a bit sceptical.

Whatever SEO masters are saying, I don’t believe that the natural ranking via the pure SEO will be substituted overnight. However, if the mechanism is adapted to the situation and if the right people are in charge of the strategy, social media can definitely influence sales for an e-business site or simply earn traffic for any site. By doing SMO, it’s a good way to provide correct link baiting. Indeed, content shared several times has more chance to be seen by a webmaster that will use it, resulting in a link.

To Summarise

At Search Laboratory, we think that whatever the country and the language used, it’s definitely a good idea to mix SEO and SMO in order to gain more traffic to your site, to improve your visibility and credibility. If SEO can be improved via SMO then let’s do it!

Fabrice is one of Search Laboratory’s team of in-house linguists. All comments and questions (in French or English) are welcomed!