SEO vs. Social Media Marketing: Which Is Better For Your Business?

The most common debate that marketers often get into is what the ultimate way to grab leads is.

Is it SEO or SMM?

Years of ongoing debate and yet we don’t have an exact answer to this question. All we know is that both have their parts to play when it comes to grabbing those eyeballs to your services or product.

To figure it out, we’ll have to look into the intricacies of both marketing strategies. Without further ado, let’s begin.

An Introduction to SEO

In simpler words, Search Engine Optimization or SEO encompasses marketing activities that marketers practice to get visibility to a business’ website or content among the top Google results for their audience’s queries.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO encompasses activities done within a website to improve the ranking or visibility in the search results. This strategy focuses on strategically utilizing the best search words i.e. keywords throughout the web pages aiming to become one of the most relevant results for a consumer’s search query.

On-page SEO includes:

  • Meta Title: The name tag for the webpage is known as the Meta Title. These titles are read and recognized by search engine robots and then become visible to users searching the web.
  • Meta Description: A keyword-rich summary of a web page displayed under the Meta Title on the results page is Meta Description.
  • Headings: Headings offers an outline for the content of the web page. These primarily help a visitor scan through the content easily.
  • Text: An alternative text is assigned to the visual elements on the webpage. And is supposed to be rendered when the visuals cannot be displayed. It is most commonly used to describe images in a text format.
  • Internal Linking: Linking one web page to another web page within the same website is known as internal linking. Linking internal web pages is intended to help search engines connect the dots between relevant content within a website.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to all activities that immensely impact the ranking of visibility within search engine results pages but are implemented outside the website. Implementing off-site activities improves the website’s engagement, relevance, and authority.

Off-page SEO includes:

  • Backlinks: The process of linking a business’s website content to an external website is known as backlinking. Quality backlinks often play a very important role in getting visibility on search engines.
  • Bookmarking: Marketers to gain awareness for a website’s content often add links to web pages that allow online bookmarks like Reddit, StumbleUpon, Scoop. it, and Digg. This activity of adding bookmarks to the web content is known as social bookmarking. It helps build a larger audience for your business.
  • Websites: Creating a presence on review websites like Yelp, Google My Business, Bing Places, where users rate and review a business is a good strategy for businesses that serve people locally. This helps businesses gain traction and build brand presence while increasing their search engine visibility.

An Introduction to SMM

Social Media Strategy or SMM encompasses activities aiming to build a brand image, spread awareness, and engage with their target audience on numerous social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

As the basic elements of social media marketing like image sharing, video sharing, and social networking don’t need an introduction, do you know there are 8 types of social media?

Yes, you read it right, there are different types of social media and each of them has a different purpose to serve.

  • Social networks: Online platforms where people virtually connect. As for businesses and brands, these platforms offer opportunities to engage and grow their target audience network.
    Example: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter
  • Media sharing networks: Although all social network sites today offer media sharing. But to define, online platforms specifically developed to share only media, photos, videos, and other visual content are media sharing networks. These platforms offer unparalleled opportunities to attract and engage the target audience.
    Example: Instagram, Snapchat
  • Discussion forums: These are the oldest types of social media. When utilized well, these online platforms can be an excellent source for market research, sharing news, ideas, and building brand presence.
    Example: Quorra, Reddit
  • Bookmarking and content curation networks: Being a part of a virtually active marketing era, there’s a constant need and demand for content. And it’s not always possible to have content ideas; this is where social media curation tools serve their purpose. Being an excellent source to discover, save, and share new content, these online assets are immensely useful for marketers and brands.
    Example: Pinterest
  • Consumer review networks: It’s no news that people trust people. And to build brand trust you need to have an army of people being vocal about your brand. It ultimately creates brand awareness and trust for your brand among a greater share of the audience. And review networks are the one-stop choice when it comes to finding and reviewing businesses as every review added for your brand acts as social proof.
    Example: Yelp, Tripadvisor
  • Blogging and publishing networks: Social blogging sites are content publishing sites that help build more brand authority and reach new readers.
    Example: Medium, WordPress
  • Interest-based networks: These are the social networks that are focused on a single niche. Houzz is a place for interior designers to browse and learn. These networks make it easier for brands to grow their network, establish a brand presence, expertise and keep up with current trends of your industry or its products.
    Example: Houzz
  • Social shopping networks: Bringing e-commerce to social media has been one of the major reasons for success for numerous brands. These network sites made it easy for brands to build brand awareness, increase engagement and sell products at the same time.
    Example: Etsy
Now that you have a detailed insight into both the marketing strategies, let’s look into some significant differences between the two:

Difference between SEO and SMM

The marketing activities online involve two things – one is content and the second is the target audience, yet both are different for SEO & SMM. Let’s learn how.

  1. Content
  2. Content is the king, and there’s nothing new about it. When it comes to SEO & SMM, content plays a foundational role for both marketing strategies. But what makes a significant difference between content for SEO & content for SMM is the approach of content.

    • Content for SEO: The long-form content works better for SEO. Content that is intended to be easily searchable on search engines i.e. Google, Bing, Yahoo, is SEO content. It refers to well-planned, informative pieces that answer the queries of the potential target audience. The best practice for providing relevant content is to create a blog for your brand.
    • Content for SMM: For social media, content is often short and condensed intended to trigger quick emotional responses. Content that works on social media is often syndicated with complimenting visual assets like pictures, infographics, videos, and GIFs, thus making the visitor more intrigued to engage with the content.

    The key to successful content with either of these tactics is to have a call to action to engage your users further into the future. This can be done by finding an email marketing tool that’s affordable and allows you to automate email delivery after someone signs up for your email list.

  3. Target Audience
  4. Before stepping into the marketing game, it is very important to know who your customer is. What do they like to read, watch or search online, what are their preferences, their online behavior, and activities, etc?

    Now, what differentiates the target audience is the perspective, basically for SEO, your target audiences are looking out for answers that resonate with their needs, and the more accurate the answer you provide, the more they’ll be likely to trust your brand and become a paying customer.

    Social media platforms serve as the efficient gateway to communicate with our customers regularly by spreading awareness and engaging with them. This not only strengthens the mutually beneficial bond but also reflects the business’s sense of accountability and trustworthiness among the target audience.

    In addition to the content and target audience, there are two more things that both the marketing strategies SEO & SMM consist of, yet differ significantly, which is efforts and success rate.

  5. Planning Efforts
  6. Now if we come down to differentiate the efforts required for both the activities, SEO will be an activity that comparatively requires a greater amount of initial efforts to be invested.

    SEO being more focused on being searchable on search engines requires initial planning right from understanding the target audience to finding searchable terms i.e. keywords and then planning the activities to get to the target audience.

    While for Social Media, efforts need to be invested in how well can a potential customer engage and resonate with the brand. Now what makes things easier is the availability of robust tools for social media project management which make content creation and getting noticed by the target audience slightly more convenient by SMM than SEO.

  7. Success Rate
  8. For every brand or marketer what matters is the result. Be it any marketing strategy and if we come down to comparing the success rates of SEO & SMM, both are the key reasons for brand success.

    SEO takes more time to give results but has a lasting impact on the brand presence, while SMM yields quick results but the results and the impact comparatively is for a shorter period due to the continuous content demand and changing consumer behavior on the social media platforms.

    With that said, you might have a fair understanding of what SEO & SMM is and how they differ from each other. But the ultimate question is which marketing strategy is better for your business – SEO or SMM?

The Final Verdict

Even after contemplating every aspect of both the strategies, it’s nearly impossible to state whether SEO works better or SMM. All that one can conclude is that both have a part to play for brand success. And both work best when done together.

As a business, it is very important to communicate to the market, be it potential customers, existing customers, or competitors directly or indirectly related to our business. And leveraging both SEO & SMM strategically is the key to accelerate your business’ growth.

About the Author

About the Author

Astha Raizada is a Senior Content Writer at SocialPilot. Content Writing and Digital Marketing is her area of expertise. She is an avid reader and writer, mostly found with a book in her hand. When not reading or writing, she enjoys crossword puzzles, painting, and doodling.
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