Google and Facebook Aren’t a Zero-Sum Game

For most of us – perhaps 75% of all sites – Google represents the single largest referral source of visitors to our websites. It is one of the reasons that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is so important. After all, we want to keep our major referral source in play, right?

Lately, I've been getting questions from owners asking if their business should stop focusing on Google and instead focus on Facebook – since it seems like that is where most of their friends are.

A couple of thoughts here:

  1. No business decision should be made based on what your friends are doing. You should have a marketing plan, and an understanding of what your goals are for the year, and how you are going to reach them. Period. Doesn't mean you can't change mid-stream – but if you do so, you'd better have darned good reasons, and revised expectations to match.
  2. Very few small businesses are optimized to the extent that simply "switching focus" makes an appreciable difference in traffic. More importantly, however, there is little reason to look at this as a zero-sum game. The universe of content consumers – and customers – is growing rapidly enough that for now at least, both Google and Facebook are improving as referral sources. So don't think of them as 'either/or.' Understand your customers – what they want – and then provide excellent content, information, and value on your own site, as well as on the relevant social media outposts where your customers spend time. 

In other words, don't focus exclusively on the outlet. Instead, focus on your customer.

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