SEO vs SMO and how to TURN OFF Google Social Media Optimization

How to turn off SMO and go back to SEO but: SEO is dead, SMO rules. Search Engine Optimization has been hijacked by your friends and family (Social Media Optimization) and that’s a good thing.

How to turn off Google personalisation (SMO) and go back to SEO BUT: SEO is dead, SMO rules. Search Engine Optimization has been hijacked by your friends and family (Social Media Optimization) and that’s a good thing.

When you do a search now on Google, Google checks your history and your friends’ histories and gives your results based on what you’ve looked at before and what your friends have shared on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, WordPress, and so on. Which is great if your friends have awesome taste, and less great if they don’t.  SEO is a waste of money, or will be very soon. If my results look like this already (see below) what will our search results look like in a year? 2 years? 10 years? SMO (social media optimization) is in, SEO (search engine optimization) is out.

SEO vs SMO or Search Engine Optimization vs Social Media Optimization

SEO is where your website page is ranked based on links coming in, links going out, and keywords connecting the web of pages connected to your website.  It’s a numbers game.

SMO is where your website appears in front of a customer ONLY if that customers friends and family have been visiting, sharing, tweeting about that page. So a group of developers in India will get different search results than a group of partiers in Sydney.

To TURN OFF Google personalisation type in


e.g. apple &pws=0

CORRECTION as pointed out by @frankinguyen on Twitter 🙂 : Add it to the search results URL, not the field.

Two examples of SMO vs SEO

FIRST SEARCH: Search Term: Laurel Papworth (My History)

Notice my little smiley face all over search.  My own history has hijacked search.

SECOND SEARCH: Search Term: Laurel Papworth &pws=0 (Vanilla search)

Notice the lack of little smiley faces. Notice that my own searches and my friends recommendations don’t filter for me. It’s not hijacked by friends, it’s hijacked by the most trafficked sites with good SEO experts advising them 🙂 .

If we try another search

FIRST SEARCH Search Term: online communities (SMO – my friends’ sharing history)

Notice my friends little smiley faces – SMO means you get a different search result cos you have different friends. Plus, I’m Little Miss Popular on social networks so have more friends to change the results. You will soon, too.

Search Term online communities  &pws=0 (straight SEO search, no SMO)

Notice again that search now has as it’s top return not a link from my friend Fred Zimny but from general sites.

Paying for SEO vs SMO

Don’t bother paying SEO clowns to tweet and Facebook your site. It will only hijack the results of THEIR social network, not bring you more clients. Unless your clients are friends with paid-for-tweeters? Pure SEO will work for some time to come, until all your friends and family and colleagues have built up a body of Shares between them.  Good sites will always have good SEO and good SMO. Make sure you get good advice on SEO and SMO – don’t buy links hoping it will help your rankings for years to come!

Interesting?  For my class tomorrow… *waves from yesterday* … CAVEAT I am not an SEO expert, just reporting as I see things changing that affects Social Media. 

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  39. Until Google jumps into bed with Facebook, which will never happen, this is just wrong. Your everyday person doesn’t maintain highly active social networks beyond Facebook. You do, so see your search results being heavily influenced. But you are the exception rather than the norm (in terms of usage across different networks and the scale of your network).

    Google integrates social data from Twitter, Google+ etc, but not from Facebook. And the reality is that Facebook retains the only social graph of relevance for vast majority of the online population (I’d say 95%). Facebook is the only social network with suitable scale in terms of usage and sharing behaviour to truly influence search results in a meaningful manner for the mainstream.

    Ironically, Bing is the search engine with the opportunity to take SMO as you define it to the mainstream, based on their partnership with Facebook. They have access to Facebook’s Like data, but how many people use Bing?

    The reality is that socially driven search results are often inferior to traditional results. Are your friends truly experts on the subject matter of content they share? Definitely not. Have they researched the topic thoroughly and determined that this piece of content is the best source available on the web. Highly unlikely. Which means socially driven results will often deliver a poorer set of search results. Which may turn away users from the feature.

    Social search will only ever supplement traditional search, rather than replace it. Just like social media supplements traditional media rather than replaces it. Any proclamations that either are dead are ill-informed.

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  51. search & social optimisation are becoming one.
    Although Google is pushing G+ there is no doubt that social signals are being used to influence search results. This makes social media a big part of SEO both in Australia and globally.
    As such given the complexity of monitoring and keeping ontop of things, software automation is becoming key.

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  53. I am not sure I entirely agree with this one Laurel. Good quality SEO is still relevant. SMO may be used by Search Engines to establish how popular a page may be but not necessarily rank the page on the single factor. While google uses well over 200 factor to determine page ranking relying on SMO is somewhat restricting results. I am not sure that Google would want to jump of the SEO in favor of SMO.

    As for wasting money on SEO I have to agree in that many companies that claim to rank your in search engines are no better than snake oil salesman. A good web designer would have your pages optimised for SEO when your site was created. If not get a good web designer who know how to optimise your page.

    Authorship is one area Google is promoting and may have a direct link to organic search results. The google philosophy is about delivering high quality content to its users. In your case of been well documented as an authority your content ranks high. A poorly design web site that your friends may have visited may not rank at all.

    1. I would except this is spam – must be as your article is completely in contradiction with what I’ve written. SMO replaces SEO. You have SEO is serps, and smo isn’t…

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