SEO vs Social: One, the Other, or Both?
But with limited budgets – particularly for start-ups or SMEs – you may be wondering exactly where to focus your time, money, and attention.
Particularly now, as the cost-of-living crisis causes small businesses around the UK to tighten their pockets in all areas of operations.
So, where should you direct your energy? Into your site via SEO, or all-in on your socials? In this blog, we’ll look at the benefits of both – and why, actually, they might just work better together.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the process of optimising your site so that it appears higher in search engine results pages.
This means that when users are navigating Google, looking for services, products, or answers to queries, they’re more likely to find your website.
SEO typically has three facets: on-page SEO, which means optimising your web pages through content and keywords; off-page SEO, which revolves around directing others to your site through links on other websites; and technical SEO, which is to do with the technical elements of a website, such as code.
With on-page SEO, you can optimise your site for specific keywords. This means that your site is more likely to appear when users type specific terms, or certain queries or questions, into Google. It also often means that you can capture website visitors for precise searches, when they need something that you can provide the most.
This could be the service or product that you offer – or it could be the answer to a question, which you provide through a piece of content, like a web page or a blog.
Organic search is far from dead. In fact, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and 53.3% of all website traffic comes from organic search.
Think about it: how often is your first instinct to turn to Google when you need to buy something, or when you want to learn something new? There’s a reason why the answer to so many questions these days is “google it”.
Millions of people every day use search engines, specifically Google, in order to buy, browse, or learn. But search engine results are oversaturated, often drawing up hundreds of millions of sites in the blink of an eye.
SEO is how you differentiate and stand out from the crowd. It’s how you get eyes on your content or your products over others – particularly your competitors.
It’s a way of drawing inbound leads without having to constantly pay for advertisements. Additionally, because you’re optimising for specific terms, the user in question often has high intent and may be more likely to buy – in fact, 60% of marketers claim that inbound marketing such as SEO provides their highest quality source of leads.
Plus, for local businesses, you can use local SEO and optimise for specific areas, which can translate into more physical footfall for your business.
SEO is also comparatively cheap compared to other forms of marketing. Unlike ads, which stop bringing home the bacon the instant that they’re switched off, SEO can continue to generate leads for years. The longer you invest in it, the more rewards it generates.
However, SEO has its drawbacks too.
First of all, as we mentioned it has three main components. For an SEO strategy to be successful, you’ll need to use all three – on-page SEO and keywords aren’t really enough anymore. You’ll need the help of an SEO specialist, who are typically very expensive because they handle more complex things, like backlinks and technical SEO.
SEO is also a very long game. It takes sustained effort over a long period of time to start seeing results, especially if you’re starting from scratch or you’re in a competitive field.
On the other hand, social media marketing is about using various social media channels to reach more customers and promote your brand.
Pretty much every social media platform is used for marketing these days, from LinkedIn to Pinterest. It’s simply a case of figuring out which channels align with your goals, and whether your target audience are using them or not.
Social media marketing is generally categorised into two types: paid or organic. Paid social is about paying to boost your content so that it’s seen by more users, or by creating in-platform advertisements.
Organic social is when no payment is put behind your content, so the amount of reach it gets will depend entirely on your own audience and the work of the algorithm.
Social media platforms make a lot of their money through marketers, particularly through paid ads. So these days, there are tons of features that you can access on each platform to streamline and improve your marketing efforts, as well as in-depth analytics to track your performance.
One major advantage of social media is the sheer number of people who use it. [[social media usage stat]], so it’s a lucrative way of reaching a wide audience.
No matter who your target audience are, it’s almost certain that a percentage of them are using social media. It’s just a case of finding where your audience is already. If you’re a software provider for instance, you’ll probably find many of your prospects on LinkedIn, or maybe Twitter. For fashion retailers, you could be successful on Instagram and TikTok.
Additionally, social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok are becoming search engines in their own right, particularly for those with a younger target demographic. Aside from that, there are loads of different features you can use to keep your content fresh and engaging. There’s even in-app shopping on a lot of platforms which means B2C brands can purchase products without even leaving the app.
Social media isn’t just useful for building a new audience and reaching new users, either – it’s a really powerful way to connect with your existing customer base and improve brand loyalty.
Social media marketing used to be a much cheaper option, however these days it requires a lot more budget behind it to be truly successful. Particularly if you’re starting from the beginning, or you don’t have an existing customer base.
This is partly because of the social media channels themselves; because they make more money from ads, organic content is not prioritised. Platform's like Instagram and Facebook in particular are pretty ‘pay to play’ these days – if you want results, you need to spend.
Even in terms of organic, things are pretty competitive. Tons of brands are on social media these days so your competitors likely are too. It can be a challenge to keep your content a cut above the rest, and to continually come up with new campaigns or hop on reactive trends.
You also never really ‘own’ your social media channels. You’re completely at the platforms mercy, and if one of your accounts gets deleted you’ll lose all of your followers, leads, and content in an instant, and may not be able to get them back.
Our advice? Don’t just pick one.
Instead of focusing all of your energy on one, devise a strategy that uses both so that one complements the other.
Use your socials to begin building an audience. Do demographic research to understand what platforms your customers are most likely to be using, and meet them where they already are.
Use your blog content as a basis for your social posts – repurposing blogs is an easy and efficient way to get more blog content. Similarly, use your socials as a distribution tool to direct more of your followers to your website, where you can nurture them with high-value content.
Optimise your website by adding links to all of your socials, and redirect viewers of your social profiles to your website by always including links in your bios.
Here at ITK, we regularly work with clients with both social media marketing and on-page SEO blog content, making sure their strategies are streamlined and perfectly line up with each other.
And we can do the same for you too. If you’d like a chat about either – or anything else in the marketing world – give us a shout.