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Social media vs. SEO: Which should you focus on more?

For a few years now, there has been a never-ending debate on whether social media marketing is as good as SEO, or even better for traffic generation. There is a concession among webmasters that both strategies are important in search engine rankings. In 2010, both Google and Bing admitted making use of social signals to rank pages. In 2014, Google denied any effects that social media had on rankings. Read on as we check out the relationship between social media and SEO.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

While the details of SEO can leave some startups a bit addled, it simply means getting free and organic traffic to your website. Below are it’s pros and cons:

Pros of SEO

  • Increased organic traffic
  • Low costs incurred, high ROI
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Builds credibility of your brand
  • Improved user-friendly interface
  • If done correctly, using white-hat SEO techniques then the result is guaranteed

Cons of SEO

  • Takes quite a while to build up and get results.
  • You are competing with 9 other businesses on the first page of Google.
  • 70% of the traffic goes to the three ranking websites on search engines. Unless you are on the top three positions, you will get the majority of the traffic to your website.
  • If your title and meta description does not entice people to click on your website, people will click on your website despite seeing you on the first page of Google. You should make sure that your Meta Title and Meta Description are written keeping real people in mind.
  • You do not have the full control of how your website ranks
  • White-hat SEO techniques, which give guaranteed results over a long period of time, are expensive. You cannot expect outstanding results with black hat SEO techniques sold for $200 to $500. You are setting yourself for failure with such techniques as they are completely against Google’s guidelines. Google will sooner or later find out and may penalize your website.
  • SEO is not for every type of business. SEO works for products and services which are already in demand. There should be enough people searching for your products and services.

Social media

In this Instagram and Facebook era, no business can survive without having a social media page. It has helped thousands of businesses to gain more visibility and also drive more traffic to their sites. However, like any other digital marketing strategy, it has its own advantages and drawbacks.

Pros of social media

  • Exposes your brand to a larger audience
  • It builds loyalty and authentic relationships
  • Has a higher conversion rate
  • Makes it easier to interact with customers and be able to get feedback
  • It works well for increasing brand awareness for startups.
  • It is useful in promoting a new product which solves real-life problems yet very few people know such products exist. In such a case, social media is a great alternative to SEO.
  • It works great for selling reasonably priced consumer goods.

Cons of social media

  • Social media platforms are prone to security breaches
  • Only paid ads work now since the reach of the organic post has become negligible. Just posting on your social media will not generate any results.
  • Negative Feedback can prove to be bad publicity if not handled with care.
  • It is hard to measure ROI
  • Time-consuming as it requires daily monitoring
  • Social Media Marketing fails miserably if a proper content marketing strategy is not in place.
  • Not every type of social media platform is suitable for every type of business. You must identify the platforms your target audience is most active and then invest in growing those platforms. For example, if you are selling to other businesses, then LinkedIn is pure Gold.

Difference between Social Media and SEO

According to a report by eConsultancy, 61% of consumers use search engines to conduct their research before purchasing something. On the other hand, 75% of mostly young and middle-aged people make purchases from social media or through recommendations from their friends on such platforms.

With data pushing business owners to both sides, let us break down the key differences between the two strategies.

  • Content

Content for social media is one that is able to stir up emotional responses. Businesses such as restaurants, clothing lines, etc. are in a better position to make the best out of social media as their posts can easily garner emotional reactions.

SEO best supports research-based content on detailed topics. Businesses in the fields of real estate, medicine, etc. are best suited to focus more on building SEO.

  • Audience

Audience targeting is best when using social media. Platforms such as Facebook have the ability to choose the target of your content depending on certain factors such as demographics, ages, interests, etc. Someone can see your content even when they had no intentions to.

With SEO, the audience is targeted through what they are thinking and what they are looking for. Not unless somebody keys in the keywords related to your content, they will not discover you. Not to forget SEO has the highest conversion rate because the users searching for your products/services are already interested in your products/services. If you have a proper content marketing strategy to target users with useful content throughout the customer journey, they will definitely buy from you and not go to your competitors.

  • Conversion

Young people are easy to influence to buy your product on social media. However, most visitors who stumble upon your content on social media may not be ready to convert to sales but will definitely share the content. By creating engaging content you can reach potential buyers. Remember people make purchases when they are in a state of excitement. Your content should be able to create the level of excitement that forces your buyers to take out the wallet from their pocket and hit the buy button.

People who research on search engines are more likely to convert. They searched for your brand with the intent of making a purchase. However, you cannot do this alone, you need a professional with experience and expertise to help you get there. If you end up hiring the wrong agency then you may lose credibility and Google trust altogether. Times have changed, now there are many so-called SEO gurus ready to rip you off, where they have not generated any results for themselves or their clients. You should always ask for SEO ranking results before you hire someone, read their testimonials and online reviews.

  • Speed

Building a massive social media following can take quite some time. However, with sponsored ads and shares, you are definitely likely to grow fast. Content posted usually takes a very short time to be seen, even seconds.

Building upon SEO has no shortcut. You have to be patient and follow the right procedure or end up not getting results. Some agencies may tell you that, the content will take ages before it is seen. In reality, it takes 8 weeks for content to reach the highest rank it will ever achieve. Smart SEO specialists will choose a mix of broad and long tail keywords, which may take only a few days to reach the first page of Google. As long as the content is useful and solves real problems, then you are sure to get results. Patience is key when it comes to SEO.


We will not lie to you that you should focus on one over the other. Both social media and SEO are very vital in today’s marketing. When combined together, these two are very powerful marketing tools. Start building up on both and you will live to reap your fruits.

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