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Why the content your audience looks for during Search is not what they want to consume on Social Media

There is one golden rule that content creators or marketers often seem to forget and it’s that the content that you produce for search is not necessarily going to cater to what your audience wants to engage with on social media.

And the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) explains this why.

Search content

Search content is created based on a strategic SEO plan that wants to see that content rank well in Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages), driving organic traffic back to your website.

It’s the type of content that your audience seeks to provide answers or solutions to the question/s that they’re asking.

It’s those pages that contain copy that is educational and informational, copy that someone actually wants to find.

And it’s copy that has the potential to not only generate leads but actually convert those leads into buying customers.

According to CMI, there are three ways in which people search for content online:

  1. Through informational generic search that addresses a wide subject and online users normally utilise one or two words to find what they’re looking for, for example children’s party, tree or garden furniture.
  2. Via more specific navigational search which normally happens when a person knows what they want, for example Apple, LinkedIn or Nike.
  3. An action based transactional search such as purchasing a product online, downloading an e-book or registering on a particular shopping site.

By understanding the type of search that people conduct you are better able to identify what stage in the buying process they are in, thereby enabling you to create content relevant to each one of those phases.


Social Media content

What is it? Well, it’s definitely different to search content.

For one, chances are you probably need to pay to have it perform well – to get it seen by the audience you’re trying to target.

It’s got a much shorter life span. According to CMI, the average life span of a boosted Facebook post is just three days whereas on Twitter, it’s just a few minutes.

And it’s normally shared copy that finds an audience, either by way of “likes” or through actual shares. So even if it’s not content that one is actually looking for, chances are that if that person finds the content attractive and entertaining enough, they will engage with it – and then share it with someone else in all likelihood.

Social media content is great for generating a buzz about a brand, but is not as effective in driving sales. Not surprising when users of social media platforms are looking to be entertained – they’re not looking for a solution to any particular problem.

What becomes viral on Social Media does not translate the same way in Search

This is vital to remember.

What is popular on social media does not mean it will rank well on search. In fact, to the contrary a lot of the time.

And CMI breaks this down perfectly here. It’s all to do with the quokka selfie craze and it’s quite remarkable how this viral social media post did not perform even a quarter as well on search as it did on social media platforms.


Ultimately, you need to remember that online audiences differ depending on where they are located on the web and what it is they’re doing there. This has a big impact on the type of content they’re wanting to consume.

CMI states that there is no one size fits all solution for content and we believe this to be true. Implement a content marketing strategy that takes into account the distinctive differences between social media content consumption and search.

Ensure that your content caters to the particular needs of each audience and understand that the results – the outcome – of that content will differ, social media normally resulting in enhanced brand awareness (which is vital) and search content resulting in conversion to sales (with social media having played a large part of that buying process).