November 6, 2018 | By: Tony Mastri

Using SEO Vs. Social Media Marketing for Your Business

The fight for online traffic has come down to two primary strategies — Search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM). SEO and SMM are both inbound channels, and they’re both used for content marketing purposes. So what’s the big difference between them and which should you use for your business?


SEO draws in traffic from search engine rankings and excels at creating awareness of your brand. On the other hand, social media marketing is all about building deeper relationships with your audience and drawing in traffic from social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (to name a few).

Though they’re both used to draw in traffic, SEO and social media marketing have their differences. Examine the strengths and weaknesses of search and social to help you decide which strategy to spend the most time on, where you should invest your marketing funds, and how to set your expectations.

1. Which Topics Perform Well?

Which topic performs the best for SMM/SEO? As you become a better marketer, you’ll be able to “sense” the best place to promote your content.


Evergreen topics that are continually useful no matter how much time has passed tend to rank well on search engines. How-to guides and other researched-based content that address common questions also tend to rank well.

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Social Media Marketing

Posts that stir up emotions such as anger, anxiety, sadness, or awe tends to get the most likes and shares overall. Trending topics also get a lot of engagement on social media platforms.

2. Which Format Performs Best?


Whether it’s text, audio, images, or videos you need to know what format of content performs best on each channel. Note that performance depends on context and what your business goals are.


Search engines love long-form text. The longer and more informative the post (with well-placed keywords) the better. On average, pages that have 1,500+ words rank well on Google and Bing. Search engines also love keyword-inclusive headlines that are long and descriptive.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is a vastly visual platform. Video and images are shared far more frequently than posts purely composed of text. Frankly, the likelihood of receiving shares and likes are exponentially higher when a visual is attached. Emotional, concise headlines will serve you well here.

Read Now: Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads – Which is Better?

3. Does SEO/SMM Convert Better?

Does one channel convert better than the other? Make sure you set marketing goals and objectives and define what a conversion looks like for your company. Put a measurement system in place so that you can assess results and make improvements.


You can only drive in so much traffic before you hit the ceiling with SEO. You will never exceed more traffic than the number of people who are searching for a specific keyword every day.

Social Media Marketing

The number of conversions you can generate on social media is practically limitless. As long as you’re running an active campaign, your conversions will continue to flow without interruption.

4. Can You Grow an Audience Faster with SEO or Social Media?

SEO and social media marketing

Between search and social, how long will you have to wait to see the fruits of your labor? Which of the two is faster?


When it comes to SEO slow and steady wins the race. Competing for the most valuable keywords takes time and patience. It can take a year or more before you learn how to generate business leads through your SEO efforts.

Social Media Marketing

Where SEO is slow, social media marketing is practically instantaneous. Sure, it takes time to grow an audience, but social media posts can garner likes and shares right away and start generating results instantly.

5. How Long Do Results Last?

Just like everything else for search & social, the duration of results between the two is vastly different.


SEO requires a significant upfront investment which can be scary for many business owners because the results aren’t immediate. Once a page is ranked, it has lasting effects that can span for weeks, months, or even years.

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Social Media Marketing

The investment for SMM is small when compared to SEO. Traffic generation begins the moment your ad becomes live. Despite this quick response rate, the moment your effort stops, the results instantly die away.

6. How to Measure Success for Search and Social

Measuring your analytics is the only way you can determine whether your current strategy is working, but how do you go about correctly measuring search outcomes?


Reach is easy to measure for SEO, but it’s much more difficult to measure engagement. There are plenty of tools out there, such as Google Analytics, that can help you identify the number of clicks and impressions you receive for a specific key phrase.

Unfortunately, Google Analytics does not measure behavior metrics per keyword, which means you’ll never truly know which keyword led to which action on your website without using advanced analytics.

If you don’t know how to gauge your efficacy, speak with a Houston or Austin SEO company for help.

Social Media Marketing

Social engagement is simple to measure on social media, but it’s more challenging to measure reach and impressions accurately. Most social media platforms provide users with their reporting, allowing them to view analytics such as likes, shares, and comments.

Measuring reach (the total traffic of social activity) is a more difficult task when compared to the simplicity of measuring other analytics. The right tool will do the job, but specific familiar tools like Google Analytics are known to provide inaccurate results when measuring social media reach.

7. Social Media and Search Engine Optimization are Interdependent

Despite their significant differences, social media marketing and search engine optimization often rely on each other in a variety of ways. Here are a few ways SEO and SMM are connected:


One vital aspect of SEO is building relationships (a chiefly social activity) which can lead to mentions, links, and ultimately better rankings. Reaching out to bloggers and online news outlets for PR often takes place on social media. Some of the most crucial skill sets for SEO success are outreach, backlink pitching, and list building — all of which can be done through social media marketing.

Social Media Marketing

Content that ranks well has the potential to swell your social media followers who will in turn like, comment, and share your content. SEO benefits social media growth over the long term which ultimately helps to build a lasting growth strategy.

As it turns out, learning how social media helps SEO (and vice versa) can significantly boost your marketing results.

Using the Right Strategies for Your Business

Social media marketing and search engine optimization have their differences. Knowing how to incorporate the strengths of both strategies into your marketing plan will benefit your business the most.

It takes expertise to leverage social media and SEO for your business successfully. That’s where we come into the picture. MARION is a full-service marketing firm that excels in growing small businesses through strategic SEO improvements and social media marketing. We’ll develop sound strategies that will drive traffic where you need it, allowing you to focus on what’s most important — running your business.

Contact MARION today for more information about how our SEO and social media marketing in Austin and Houston can significantly improve your marketing results.

About Tony Mastri

Tony Mastri, Digital Marketing Manager at MARION, is an experienced agency and in-house digital marketer. With a proven background in content strategy, relationship-based link building, and technical SEO, he makes data-informed decisions that drive client growth.

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