For a small business, both time and money are limited resources. When it comes to establishing an online presence, most business owners are very confused about what will give them better returns on their investment- SEO(Search Engine Optimisation) or Social Media (Social Media Marketing and Social media Management). So is social media a better investment than SEO.
In order to understand which is the wiser use of your time and money, let’s first understand what they both are and how they work.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a set of tools and techniques designed to bring organic traffic to your website. SEO increases the visibility of your website and helps it rank higher in the search results when someone searches for keywords related to your website. SEO techniques include creating for your website, optimizing the layout and content of your website, creating content and content marketing.
Does SEO Work?
The answer to the question of whether SEO works varies a lot depending on the context. If for example, you have only 1-2 major competitors, there is a chance that you can very quickly appear on the first page of google search results with some well-defined SEO tactics. On the other hand, if you are in a competitive and crowded space, it may take much longer for SEO to show the desired results for you.
However, by and large, SEO is one of the best long-term digital investments you can make. Although it takes time to make sure your website ranks highly, once you are there you gain immensely in the form of organic traffic. Best of all, you don’t have to pay additional money for every click to your website.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social Media Marketing (SMM) focuses on creating content that attracts attention on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+. It is a marketing process that will get traffic to your website via social networking sites.
Social Media Marketing can include organic social sharing of content as well as paid advertising where the social media platform charges you based on the number of views or clicks.
Does Social Media Marketing Work?
Social Media marketing is definitely one of the most effective ways to bring traffic to your website. Most leading social media platforms have a huge number of users (Facebook- , Instagram- , Twitter- ) which gives businesses a chance to pitch to a major captive audience.
SEO vs SMM – Which is the Better Bet
This depends a lot on the particular context of your business. Here are the advantages of SEO over SMM.
People search for businesses online – The more need-based your business, the more likely it is that your potential customer will try to search for the business online. This says that 61% of people chose to search online for a product before making a purchase.
Keywords to guide you- You can do a keyword search to understand exactly which terms related to your product are being searched for by people. This helps you streamline your content marketing and SEO strategy in the right direction and you don’t have to shoot blindly.
Here is the situation in which SMM scores over SEO.
Referrals – If your product thrives on word-of-mouth and peer recommendations then it’s the shares and likes on social media that give your product the peer validation it needs and encourages friends to make a purchase. A shows that 75% of people take peer recommendations on social media into account when they make an online purchase.
Response to Criticism – Unlike search engines, where bad reviews can really hamper your results, social media allows you to respond to criticism in real time and gives you a chance to convert a critic into a happy customer. This allows you to manage your online reputation much more effectively.
As every good digital marketer knows, the efficacy of both SEO and SMM depends on the unique business context. Although the proportion of effort towards each may be different based on what works better for you, it is always a good idea to invest in both social media and SEO to some degree.
This is because focusing your marketing efforts on just one source of traffic can be very risky for your business. Say for instance you lose your google search ranking to a well-funded competitor or your facebook page gets removed due to a misunderstanding; you will find yourself in a tough spot if you were relying on just the one source of traffic.
It is also a good idea to invest in both SEO and SMM because they both reinforce and impact each other.
How Does SEO Help with Social Media Marketing
You can use some principles from SEO and use them to great efficacy in SMM.
Keyword Research – Just like keyword research for SEO, you can use keyword research to find the right keywords for your social media profile. For instance, the more keywords you have as tags on your Twitter profile, the more likely are you to get discovered on Twitter by your target audience.
On-site Optimization- You can use the same principles of on-site optimization for your website like Meta description, title, img tags, and so on and apply them to your social media pages as well. This will make them more visible and discoverable.
How Does Social Media Marketing Help With SEO
Positive Search Results- If you don’t want negative reviews and search results coming up when someone searches for your product, having optimized and discoverable social media pages like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc can really help. These pages will appear on the first page of the results and bump off potentially negative reviews about your product or service.
Reinforce Search Results- Most social media savvy users will check out the social media pages of a product or service that shows up during an online search if they don’t already know about it. Having an active social media presence and a quick response time to customer complaints help reinforce that your company is trustworthy.
SEO or SMM- Which has the better ROI (Return on Investment)?
The image below shows the relative share of different online channels towards revenue.
While it can be seen here that search (both SEO and Search Engine Marketing) has a definite edge over social media, there is still no hard and fast rule. Many times, smart social media marketing and paid advertising help businesses get a boost in the short run while SEO is more of a long run game. It is best to invest in both channels although how much to invest in which depends completely on your business context.