Are you spreading your marketing efforts out too thin and feel like you are no longer appearing in front of your ideal customers anywhere? Does this sound familiar?

SEO and social media are two strategies known for attracting new customers to your brand. But there is an ongoing debate outside of Web3 about which strategy should take up most of your time and effort. Both work for different businesses and are extremely useful at generating a high return of investment (ROI). But which digital marketing strategy is better?

We explore the pros and cons of search engine optimisation and social media marketing. What makes them unique, and which is better for your business? In just 11 minutes, you’ll understand the key differences and will be able to implement the best strategy for your business to target your ideal customers. Want to skip ahead to get to all the action now? Listen to the podcast.

  1. Search Engine Optimisation
  2. Social Media Marketing
  3. Is SEO a part of Social media marketing?
  4. Summary
  5. Podcast
SEO graphic showing a magnifying glass and increase of sales

Search engine optimisation entails optimising content for search engines to rank your website highly. Ranking high in search for certain keywords brings new and existing customers back onto your website and keeps your brand front of mind of your customer when online. 

Benefits of SEO

Most people look for businesses on search engines and predominantly turn to google. Think about your own habits. When you want to look for something in particular, do you go to your social accounts or head straight to search? It’s an inbound marketing strategy, meaning they come to you. SEO targets quality, organic traffic. 

The fundamental difference for why people generally opt for SEO over social media is audience and intent. With SEO, you have the ability to know what your users are thinking, based on their search queries. These people are normally in a comparative mindset or are ready to buy.  

Think about it… Will you remember a post from yesterday as you were scrolling through your newsfeed or will you recall the brand that showed up in search after you looked for help on a specific topic? SEO means you can attract leads that are searching for something that you offer. 

Organic traffic means you don’t need to pay a cent. The only investment you will be making is to create valuable and persuasive content for your website that the algorithm will favour, keeping your customers on your page. Tracking your SEO based on the ever-changing algorithms is what sets you apart. To amplify your SEO efforts, various tools can identify new keywords, what your audience is searching for and how to target them and what your competitors are doing online. These tools can really help do all the work for you.

SEO is a staple marketing strategy as it improves your online presence and moves you ahead of your competition within your industry. If fewer people are on your competitor’s site, that means more people are going to be buying your products and services. To outdo your competition, you need to ensure your website is free from foundational SEO issues and errors. You can easily perform an SEO audit in as little as one hour, which will make your website’s traffic skyrocket.

Difficulties of SEO

Content for SEO is designed to be research-based, as people are intentionally looking for a specific thing. These can include long-form texts, blogs, how-tos and other articles. SEO content is designed for topics that don’t necessarily trend and that will be common search queries in the long run. As the majority of SEO is organic, that means a large portion of your marketing efforts will be put into churning out keyword rich content. After a while you might begin to dream in keywords, like we do.

SEO is known to take some time being indexing and can be rather uncertain. Ranking well for specific search queries can take days to come into action, this leads to sometimes taking years for the algorithm to regard websites as authoritative and credible sources. This differs completely from social media, which can go viral in minutes.  

Analysing digital marketing efforts

Social Media Marketing

The term social media marketing refers to social networks connecting with audiences and building your brand. It is a way for brands to engage with existing customers and reach new leads by showcasing their company’s culture, values and skills.

Social Media’s limitations 

Social media can be difficult to measure. Although platforms have put in place some on-page analytics, this does not go into as much depth as platforms which analyse your website traffic. Because it is difficult to measure, this means it’s hard to know which customers are coming from social media. These time-consuming networks need a lot of engagement while only seeing a small portion of ROI (return of investment). People on social media also might be less likely to act as they were just scrolling through before they found out about you.

Benefits of social media marketing for business

A key aspect of deciding which strategy you should put your efforts into is understanding your target audience. If you are wanting to target a younger demographic, it’s quite likely they’re predominantly hanging out on social media. They often use the social media account to actually make judgments of brands before making a purchase decision. These people have less intent to purchase but are more likely to share, follow and engage with your brand. 

One huge benefit of social media is engagement. Once followers mention your handle, tags your brand, or even likes your page, their connections will then start to see you. Easily infiltrating your target market will get you discovered easily by more people. 

The type of content differs tremendously based on what platform. Social media is used to circulate engaging, visual and emotionally charged content, specifically with trending topics. These trending topics have the ability to go organically viral within seconds. If you jump on certain bandwagons such as Reels, you can guarantee your brand will be in front of fresh eyes in no time. There are both paid and organic ways to promote your business on social media which will grow your brand and gain new customers. These options are available for any budget size.

Social Media icons on a phone graphic, including Facebook likes and reacts.

Is SEO a part of Social media marketing

This debate isn’t just black and white, Social media and SEO actually help each other. Your social media can have an indirect, positive effect on your SEO and ranking. Most of the top positions in Google search have a strong presence on social media as well. This might be a good reason to invest in both strategies. 

Search engine optimisation doesn’t just occur on-site. Keyword research can also be useful for your social media marketing strategy. Including specific keywords in your social accounts including your bio, name, hashtags and even location will help to direct your account when people engage in similar content on these platforms.

Summary

There is no reason to not be investing in both social media and search engine optimisation. If budget is of concern, there are many different routes to go to obtain organic traffic without spending a cent of advertising. Overall, it’s important to have a brand presence where your target market is hanging out online. It is the best way of increasing your conversion rates, generating leads and turning those leads into loyal customers. 


Podcast

SEO vs Social Media marketing is all about who you want to target and where they are gathering online… but there is much more to it than that. James and Joseph debate which marketing strategy is bound to bring the highest return of investment from your traffic and how to successfully employ these strategies. Let us know who you agree with and why, we’d love to hear your thoughts too.


Transcript

James Banks:
Hello, everyone. And welcome to another episode of the Web3 Marketing Debate Show. I’m your host, James Banks.

Joseph Chesterton:
And I’m your host, Joseph Chesterton.

James Banks:
And today we’ll be firing up an all-time classic marketing debate, SEO versus social media marketing, which one is better? So on this side of the debate, I’ll be taking the social media side of the ring.

Joseph Chesterton:
And of course, I’ll be doing the SEO side.

James Banks:
Alrighty. Without further ado, let’s kick things off. So Joseph, why would you say, or why is SEO better than social media marketing for small to medium businesses? Why would you say SEO is better?

Joseph Chesterton:
All right. Need to ask you a question, when people want to find something, where do they go?

James Banks:
Well, I guess they could be searching on Google or they could be searching on Facebook or Instagram or YouTube. YouTube being the second largest search engine in the world after Google. They could be searching anywhere.

Joseph Chesterton:
Whose side are you on again?

James Banks:
I’m on the social media marketing side. But when you’re saying SEO, you’re referring to search engine optimization to help sites rank better in Google search. That’s the angle you’re coming from, right?

Joseph Chesterton:
Yes.

James Banks:
Okay. Continue on.

Joseph Chesterton:
Okay. So people go to Google to find what they’re after. People go to Facebook to chew and post pictures of their cats. All right. Most popular website in the world, Google, second, YouTube, a handful of Chinese websites, and then seventh spot is Facebook. 

So with SEO, obviously you optimise your website, and then that increases your ranking. And then you get to number one where you can start printing money, because basically when you’re at the top, people find you. 

About 30% of all clicks on Google is the first position in Google. So when you are there, people will find you. And it’s just a massive snowball that builds and builds and builds.

James Banks:
Yeah, but that’s not a guarantee, Joseph. I mean, we’ve come across many sites, and I’ve worked with many site owners that have got pages and posts on their website that ranked number one, but there’s no clear and immediate ROI from those number one rankings. 

Whereas opposed to say, if you have a large active and engaged following on social media that’s relevant to the products and services and solutions that you’re providing, you have a great quality target audience following a profile on your social media, you could argue to say that that’s also will help results in generating more sales and income, and as you said, printing money.

It can happen on both sides of the fence. Social media requires not only brand presence optimization, but knowing what your audience wants, providing to them across more than, and this is the key I think, more than one single platform. 

If you’re putting all the eggs in one basket through SEO and Google, all it takes is Google to change the way that they’re thinking and no longer like you anymore. And then you lose all of those results. 

Whereas if you have a great social media presence across multiple relevant channels, if one of the channels decides to change it’s game, at least you have other channels to back up upon, which ultimately means it’s a more defensible strategy than just comparing it to SEO. Whatever you have to say to that.

Joseph Chesterton:
I guess with social media marketing, it requires ongoing maintenance and a commitment to keep the social marketing happening. Whereas when you optimise for SEO and you’re ranking highly on SEO, then it’s just a small, or you don’t need to actually maintain that position. 

Then the ROI is better, because when customers are wanting to buy a product, they either go on social media posts pictures of their cats, or they go and search for the product that they’re wanting to buy instead of actually stumbling upon it on social media that’s paid.

James Banks:
Well, I think I threw you a bone there. So I would argue that it requires less maintenance. It’s not like you cannot do any maintenance, but it requires less maintenance when you’re dealing with an industry that has low search competition, or there’s not many professional SEO marketers trying to optimise the same batch of high value keywords. 

But in a competitive industry where there’s active SEO campaigns in place, you have to be active constantly and evolving and monitoring the changes to the market, i.e. doing it on a recurring basis, just as a good social media marketing strategy. So I would say that the commitment is similar. It’s not a set and forget solution here, it requires ongoing effort to be able to achieve long-term success on either side of the fence.

Joseph Chesterton:
Well, when you create content with social media, you post something. It’s out there and then it’s gone. With SEO, you do the right foundations and the right things, and it lasts years, weeks, months, years, depending on how well you’ve done it, and how much of a niche your product or service is. 

So what’s better for smaller businesses? 

When smaller businesses don’t have huge budgets to continually be spending on more and more advertising, then potentially they can see a massive ROI without any ongoing spend.

James Banks:
Yeah, I think that’s not a bad comment to make at all. But where’s the attention online today? It’s not like we’re in 2005 anymore where the attention online was only in the search engines. 

The attention of people is across social media and also search to be fair. But any business, regardless of what size can and should have a presence on social media. Yes, you could argue there’s a few French cases where 100% of the audience is absolutely not online. But honestly, when businesses think like that, you only have to push them a little bit further to actually ask who their actual audience is and what they’re doing. 

Everyone is searching online. Everyone is online. There’s no questions about it. But I think ultimately, probably what our listeners want to hear is, when we talk about results, what’s going to produce the best results, short long-term and medium term. 

Why would you say SEO is a better long-term strategy or has better results in social media marketing, Joe? Or if you think it doesn’t, then that’s fine.

Joseph Chesterton:
Both are going to have a cost associated with it. I think with SEO, there’s more chance that when you are at the top, the time that you stay at the top is far greater than with social media where you post something, next minute, it’s gone, and then you have to post some other thing. 

So there is an initial cost to get the SEO potentially, unless you’re doing it yourself. If you get the SEO or your product to number one, then the SEO cost is almost infinite. Take for example Web3’s website, our web design Brisbane page we built that eight years ago…

James Banks:
Well, we were optimising for the keyword phrase when we first started the business eight years ago. Yeah, that’s right.

Joseph Chesterton:
And for the first, what, three months we were doing SEO on that pretty consistently, which got us to number one in the search results. It pretty much stayed there. Yes, of course, we’ve adjusted our strategy and changed the pages and things, which has moved the position around. But if you search web design, we’ll be at or near the top.

James Banks:
Yeah, absolutely. And I think how we were able to achieve that was really, really doing extremely well without on-page optimization, which is all the technicalities, the code, the quality, the content, all the stuff that makes a great website great, nailing that. 

We’ve done a little bit of content marketing like blog writing. Nothing really, I would say a dedicated content marketing strategy. We’re changing that now, hence why you’re listening to this podcast. 

But the reality is, I think I will say our industry has become much more competitive. And for us to stand out, we need to be able to be firing on all cylinders, such as content marketing. So I think to bring this one home, honestly, we don’t see it as a debate here at Web3, SEO versus social media marketing. They are actually similar to our content marketing versus SEO debate. We actually believe they’re two in the same things. 

Joseph, why would you say that SEO and social media marketing work together? 

Joseph Chesterton:
They are the same thing, but they are a different thing. In my opinion, it’s the context of where they are or what you’re trying to achieve. So with SEO, it’s website based, whereas with social media, it’s obviously Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, whatever, Twitter, whichever platform you’re trying to target. 

So you go to where your customers are. And when your customers are on Facebook, then that makes sense. And if it is a case where customers are searching for your product, then they’ll probably go to Google. So you need both.

James Banks:
Yeah. And the reason why you need to have both and the point I’m trying to make is social, although minor, is still a ranking signal. That is, if you want to rank well in Google, having a social media presence is one of the signals, albeit minor, that Google looks at to figure out how authoritative and real a business is. 

So neglecting a social media presence and wanting to rank well on SEO is almost like an idiot in them. And you can’t, you need to be able to be playing both fields. From a social media point of view where SEO can help amplify at social media you can use traditional SEO techniques, such as keyword research, to understand the very basics. 

What are the questions my audience is searching for and looking for answers that I could then help educate and answer through my social media content or social media marketing efforts?

And not just assuming what those questions are, actually having quantifiable real data to back up the facts, that we know this is how many people per month is searching for this exact question that we can answer. For example, what is better to build a website, Wix versus WordPress? That’s a classic one. And there’s many variations. 

So this is how the two actually work very well together. And combined strategies is where we see not only our business, but businesses we work with achieve the greatest results. So that said, Joe, is there any other final closing comments?

Joseph Chesterton:
Yeah. What are your goals and objectives? I’d say they need to be both.

James Banks:
Yeah, exactly. It’s not 2005. Ladies and gentlemen, newsflash.. it has to be playing in both fields. If you need help with your SEO and social media marketing effort, even if you’d like us to do a little bit of a review or rundown, pointing out the gaps, we can show you where you’re missing out on opportunities that you could be capitalising on for your business. 

Feel free to drop us a line, web3.com.au. And with that said, we’ll conclude today’s episode of the Web3 Marketing Debate Show. Tune in next time, where we’ll be talking a heck of a lot more social media. So without further ado, thank you very much for listening. 

We’ll talk to you again real soon.