SEO & Social Media Explained With Dogs

This post is about two of the best things on the planet: digital marketing and dogs.

Also, this is a post about digital marketing explained by dogs…well, the dogs aren’t the ones explaining so I guess it’s personified (dog-onified…?) by dogs.

Whatever, this post has digital marketing and dogs in it. 

This is going to be a bit of a basic level post for digital marketing beginners, small business owners and others who need a bit of help wrapping their heads around these two channels, how they’re different and why both are necessary for their business. Advanced DM’s – and those of you who don’t like dogs – may want to skip this week’s entry but for the rest of you guys, please proceed! 

As you may or may not know, not only do I have a day job and write awesome articles on Smokehouse SEO, I also have two dogs. One of them is a six-year-old Rottweiler/Lab Mix named Titan and the other is Shiva, a year and a half old German Shepherd.

Titan & Shiva: The Stars of the Article

A little background first: this post was inspired by a whole bunch of nothing. I was just sitting on the couch yesterday evening watching television with my two dogs laying down on the floor – Titan half asleep (as usual) and Shiva going berserk and rolling back and forth with a toy bone in her face (as usual) – and it suddenly occurred to me: Titan is SEO and Shiva is Social Media. After that super weird and mega-nerdy thought left me, I first realized that I really need to unplug from the world of digital marketing for a while but also this would make a semi-decent blog post because it’s a great way to explain to beginners and non-digital marketers about the differences of the channels. 

Allow me to explain: 

Titan: The SEO Dog

So first we have Titan, the majestic symbol of SEO. Rock solid. Been around for a while and has seen everything. A little crazy in his youth and now settled down for the most part but he’ll still surprise you in the weirdest ways from time to time. He usually just wants to be left alone but just when you think you’ve got him figured out, he’ll change the game on you. He doesn’t go around chasing squirrels but if you even think about dropping good food, you’ll never see it again. 

Yes, he held still for this one. 

Being a middle-aged guy, Titan isn’t much for playing games. If we’re at home and you throw a ball and tell him to go get it,  you’ll get the ‘you threw it, you get it’ look but when he gets to the agility classes that he loves, he’s running up and down obstacles and literally jumping through hoops like he’s a puppy again. 

If he finds something he wants (usually food) he will calmly sit there and stare until you give it to him. He’ll never snatch it from your hand and he eats slowly these days but he will not leave you alone until he gets what he wants. If I don’t give him the food, he won’t whine but he will go to my wife and try to get it from her instead. 

If you toss him a bone that doesn’t have actual food in it, he’s going to disregard it like it’s not even there but if it has a piece of meat or peanut butter or something else he likes inside it, he’ll sit there for hours with it and nobody had better try to take it away from him. 

Also, Titan is one of the gentlest, nicest and calmest dogs you’ve ever met in your life, even to people he has never met before like repairmen who come out to fix something or delivery guys that I open the door for, all that – just never try to come inside my home without me letting you in first. See, if you do that, then he turns into the typical Rottweiler. Super loud barking, growling and the full ‘You messed up and now its time for you to pay.’ posturing.

All of that is pretty much the same thing with SEO. 

If you’re sitting there trying to play games with Google by doing things like jamming keywords in your text, creating spammy doorway pages for physical locations with thin and useless content or still doing nonsense like using meta keywords on your page, you’re going to get ignored like you told Titan to go fetch a ball. Just because you want these ridiculous, old-school SEO techniques to work doesn’t mean they’re going to.

You need to give the search engines what they want: A fast, mobile-friendly site with no technical errors (well, minimal errors because let’s be real, who has NO tech errors?), quality organic backlinks and most importantly, top quality ’10X (or is it 100X, now?) content’.   

Great content is like food for Titan. Don’t play with it. Your content had better be good and it better be meaty. If you have it, he’ll hang out with you all day and be your best friend but if you come with garbage he’ll quickly lose interest in anything you have to say and move on to someone else who has it. Rankbrain is real and if you’re not feeding the AI with quality content treats, your site is done. 

Just pretend there’s like longform quality content in that bone or something

Another way SEO is just like Titan is speed. Don’t expect things to happen too fast with SEO or you’re going to be very sad. Positive changes in traffic can take weeks or even months from the time you implement something so this is not the channel for instant gratification. I don’t care what someone out there that’s trying to sell you ‘quick SEO results!!!’ told you – SEO takes time. If someone told you different, they’re trying to sell you something. With SEO, you’re playing the long game.

Once you’ve established everything correctly and if you take the time to maintain it and keep up with the changes as you should, SEO and organic search usually should be your best channel for traffic that will outlast any others in terms of getting qualified traffic to your site. 

Usually, the only time something happens quickly with SEO is if you break something. If you’re out there using those crooked ‘black hat’ techniques like buying or getting on PBNs for backlinks, engaging in comment spam for traffic, using article spinners or creating duplicate garbage content, you’re going to be bitten.

So you say you’ve gotten away with that for a few months now? Well, just like some stranger sneaking around my front yard, it’s just a matter of time before you get found and dealt with. It might take him a few minutes but rest assured, Titan (and Shiva for that matter, but we’ll discuss that later) will find you and it won’t be pretty for you when he does.

In your case, it might not be today or tomorrow but Google will find you and the penalties will come crashing down on you. Your site’s pages will be deindexed, demoted and every other kind of possible punishment you can think of and don’t think for a second it will be easy or fun to try to dig your way out of that. Trust me, I speak as someone who dug a client out of a Penguin manual action a few years ago back when Penguin was still a thing you had to dig your way out of. It took forever and was not fun at all

Shiva: The Social Media Dog

And then we have Shiva. The symbol of Social Media Marketing. Fearless, loyal and self-assured.

When she tries her ‘I’m a tough German Shepherd!’ face

She’s also a loveable nutjob. 

Yes. She was Dogmeat from Fallout 4 for Halloween. 

Shiva is the kind of dog that you don’t want to turn your back on for a minute or your furniture is ripped open, your trash cans are knocked over and she doesn’t understand why you’re mad because you’re the one who was too lazy to walk her and then left her alone with the couch and put the trash cans there. It’s your own fault. You deserved it and now you’re cleaning up the mess while she’s happily playing in the yard with her other toys. 

With Shiva, everything is fast-paced, fun-filled and it’s always playtime except when it’s not and you’ll never know when it’s not because there’s no rhyme or reason to her behavior except because she feels like it. Also, you’d better have an entire arsenal of new, fun games or have the ability to come up with new ones quick or she’s going to get bored and start making up her own games – and you probably won’t like a lot of them. 

Shiva likes her food, just like Titan, but the one thing she likes more than that is attention. If you ignore her for a few minutes or if you try to pay attention to Titan, guess what – Shiva’s going to either start running around the house like she’s gone nuts or she’s going to walk right between you and Titan (or anyone or anything else) to make sure she’s getting that attention. 

Finally, for as playful, fun and nice as she is, she’s also, at the end of the day, a full German Shepherd and she’s got the teeth to prove it. Come at her wrong or challenge her, and she’ll make you pay for it. She also will also judge you and your choices. Don’t think a dog can judge you? See her reaction to my attempt to watch the Three Stooges:

“Come on, man…you think THIS is funny?”

If you do any type of Social media marketing, you understand how similar this is. 

Social media changes from day to day. What was a hot topic and relevant to audiences on Monday might be completely passe by Friday. 

Post something completely tone-deaf about a major issue or ignore somebody’s negative comment about your brand online, watch your reputation, ratings, traffic, and sales plummet. Consumers, just like Shiva with my choice of old-timey humor, are judging you by your actions on social media and won’t hesitate to call you out. 

Try to talk to customers in whatever tone about whatever topic you think is interesting or ‘great’, push too hard for sales or become one huge commercial and watch how fast you get ignored while your ex-audience moves on to your competitors who are actually posting things they care about and want to engage with.

Moreover, if you forget for even a second that your audience has ‘teeth’ if necessary, you will regret it. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and try to ‘clap back’ at a negative reviewer or a bad rating without the roasting skills or humor of a Wendy’s, Moon Pie or Steak-Umm social media team and watch how fast you fall on your face. 

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Lots of ways to be bitten, right? Maybe you think you’re better off just forgetting about social and sticking to other channels.

Don’t even think about it.

Trying to ignore social media is like leaving Shiva in a room with furniture and no toys and hoping for the best. All of your best attempts at pretending it’s not happening isn’t gonna save your couch – or your brand. People are going to talk about your brand whether you’re on there or not so you’d better be part of the conversation. Sure, your couch might still get a little chewed on but at least you’re there to correct it! 

Why You Need Both

In 2018 and going into 2019 you can’t put all your digital marketing eggs in one basket, even though some people out there are actually still trying to do this. Even though most SEOs (and Google) will tell you Social Media has no direct effect on search results, I personally still don’t buy it. I don’t know if it’s correlation or causation but I’ve personally run tests on running certain ads and promoting certain pages on social media and I’ve seen one-to-one increases in organic traffic AND ranking so there’s something going on here. 

Good stuff happens when they work together. My wall would disagree..but still.

For the sake of brevity and to avoid some epic level ‘correlation vs. causation’ debates from Digital Marketing geeks, let me say for the record that I DO NOT CARE WHICH ONE IT IS. JUST LOOK AT THE DOG PICTURES AND HUSH.

But really, in terms of that, all I know for sure is that it does a thing that I want it to do and it has for years. So I’m gonna keep doing that until it stops working. I don’t ask if Titan and Shiva are thinking in barks when I tell them to sit, I just know they do it. Who am I to question the magic?

Another reason you need to work in both channels is because of the very nature of these channels being so different. SEO, as we previously discussed, can be a very slow channel to see results on. If you have a flash sale on a new product or need to launch a new piece of relevant content about a timely issue, SEO is not the way you want to do it. You’re going to turn to Social media. 

On the other hand, for longer lasting, consistent returns without having to keep on spending money on ads (newsflash: organic social media is nothing but talking to yourself on the internet) you’re going to need solid SEO in place.

SEO is fantastic for delivering your products at the right time for people looking for them but it’s not so hot for developing solid customer relationships and social is fantastic for engaging with your current, past and potential customers but not so hot for turning up in the SERP when someone is looking for something very specific. Your business needs both.

Give people what they want when they want it (SEO) and give them a reason and a great feeling to get it from you (Social Media).

Also, one major thing both of these channels have in common is content. If you have quality content, you can use it on your social channels for promotion and if it’s marked up with schema and is earning natural quality backlinks, it’s going to naturally roll into your all-around SEO strategy. Think of content as dog food for this analogy. They both need it and it’s one thing they can always agree on to make their lives better.

Still..keep your social media on a leash. It can go a bit nuts…

Also, you can always use high quality content for your email campaigns as well….should I get a third dog just to demonstrate this point?

Nah. My wife would kill me. 

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