Recently, I attended two digital marketing conferences that were full of really smart, engaging and accomplished-in-their-field people: The Social Shake-Up and the Search Marketing Expo. From both conferences I took home practical information and made connections that will impact #UsDragons for quite some time. But the unintended takeaway came mostly from what was missing at one conference.

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SEOs from DragonSearch at the SMX East Conference, 2013

Shaken but Not Stirred

At The Social Shake-Up, put on fantastically by Social Media Today, there was scant mention of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There was no “track” set up to explore the convergence of the two. There was no specific talk addressing the issue.  That might lead one to think, “Well, because the two are coming together at such a rapid speed these days, it must have been woven into all the talks/sessions/panels.” Nope.

Ok, so maybe it was simply because social media marketers want to keep the separation of the two intact and believe that keeping them apart is good. Nope. In so many of the sessions I attended, people spoke at length about the breaking down of silos and how it was critical to the success of any marketing efforts. But then again, they seemed to be talking about departmental silos, like how PR should talk with the PPC team and the Community Managers should talk with…well…also the PPC team.  Surely they also meant that everyone should be talking to the SEOs too, right?  If that’s what they thought, they certainly didn’t say it out loud.

This lack of SEO buzz at a social media event got me thinking: “Maybe WE are making too much of the convergence of social and SEO. Maybe it’s not happening like we think it is.”  I only got to consider that notion for about two weeks because I was about to find out that, indeed, it wasn’t happening like we thought…it’s happening a whole lot faster!

SEOs Getting All Social

The SMX East 2013 conference, as one would assume, focused a great deal of time on sexy SEO stuff like rankings and algorithms and conversion tracking. I could choose tracks based on mobile search, paid ad search, semantic SEO, and more. Hmmmm…this seemed familiar. There was no Social Media Marketing and SEO track. But unlike at the Shake-up, there didn’t need to be.  Talk of social media’s impact on SEO and vice-versa was EVERYWHERE.  In every session, with every speaker, with every side conversation (it seemed), people were talking about social media.  Social signals, +1s from G+ as critical to rankings (or not), engagement as a driver of links, breaking up content such as white papers and slides for multiple sharing purposes , and more…a lot more. The importance of social media, especially given all the flutter about Google’s “Hummingbird” update, was clear to the crowd currently concerned with what “100 percent ‘Not Provided’” will do their sites.

Social and SEO = One Skillset for the Future

These were SEOs talking social media…in great depth, with great reverence and great respect.  Is it not the same for the social media marketers?  Well, it had better be (and thankfully, it is at DragonSearch!).  If you are a community manager who still figures that posting 3-4 times a day on all your company’s platforms is your job, you should get yourself to the next SEO conference near you (or SMX West in March). Or read this recap of SMX in Search Engine Land about how to “Master the Search and Social Universe.” Because it seems to me that the day could be coming, soon, where SEOs, who can also master community management, will take over social media based on their ability to use all the tools, analytics, testing, and business arguments to justify that social media can drive conversions.  Someone who can speak that language to a CMO is going to get their attention. We are fortunate to have a whole staff of people who “get it” and can speak that language.