There has been a lot of talk over the past several years about the intersection of search and social. Many suggest that both will inevitably merge in a meaningful way, and there’s good reason to believe they may be right.

But when it comes to SEO, just how big a role is social playing?

According to SEOmoz’s 2012 SEO Industry Survey, the biggest name in social — Facebook — has become a big focus for SEOs. As noted by MediaPost’s Laurie Sullivan:

When asked which tasks SEO professionals spend time doing overall, 76% said they set up and run Facebook business pages; 74% analyze, track site speed and page-load times; 69% analyze competitors’ backlinks; 64% analyze competitors’ content; 64% set up and manage Google+ business profiles; 63% analyze data in Google Analytics; and 59% blog.

The fact that SEOs are involved in managing social networking profiles isn’t exactly surprising: the demand for assistance with social is high and SEOs are well-positioned to win this business. But SEOmoz’s numbers are also mind-boggling: when it comes to “inbound marketing focused actions”, as a percentage, more SEOs are setting up and managing Facebook Pages than looking at analytics, evaluating competitor backlinks and content, producing content or dealing with duplicate content — activities that many of us would consider even more crucial to SEO as it’s generally defined.

The lines between SEO and social media marketing are blurring

The big question: is this a good thing or a bad thing?

While there’s no doubt that Facebook — and social generally — is an important part of the online marketing mix, SEOmoz’s survey data would seem to suggest that the lines are blurring between SEO and social media marketing. For clients, particularly those that only have a vague understanding of SEO and what it entails, that may be problematic. After all, even though from a high-level SEO and social may increasingly go hand-in-hand, when it comes to the details that drive results, expertise matters.

An experienced SEO may not be the right person to set up and manage a Facebook Page. Likewise, letting your social media consultant handle your SEO may mean you’re not getting the level of SEO knowledge you think you are.

If SEOmoz’s data is any indication, that is a lesson that many companies may learn the hard way, which could be quite painful given how many companies, particularly those that have been behind the digital curve, are increasing their investments in both SEO and social.