SEO vs. Social Media: Which Digital Marketing Strategy Should You Choose?

discussing digital marketing strategy

Getting into digital marketing might seem like an easy task at first. However, you might get confused once you encounter the different strategies that you can use to promote your business.

Among the different digital marketing strategies, two of your main choices are SEO and social media marketing. These techniques both have different sets of benefits that can help you build your brand’s online visibility and widen your reach.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization or SEO refers to the practice of enhancing a website to improve its performance for searchability. Its main goal is to have your website show up and rank higher on SERPs. Your SERP ranking will then influence how much traffic you will drive to your website.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing involves using social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to establish relationships and engage with your audience. This digital marketing strategy also allows you to build brand awareness using traditional and digital marketing techniques and principles.

SEO vs. Social Media Marketing

SEO and social media marketing can definitely help you reach your target audience and promote your brand effectively. However, since they are two different marketing strategies, you may discover the unique ways they may help your business. Keep reading to find out about the differences between search engine marketing and social media marketing.


Learning about your target audience is important to ensure the success of your digital marketing efforts. Although SEO and social media marketing aim to target online users, these digital marketing strategies have varying groups of audiences. Determining the differences between each strategy’s target audience will provide you with enough information on how to tweak your marketing approach.

With SEO, you are dealing with users who are looking for something. These individuals are ready to buy and less likely to interact with your brand or share your content with their friends and loved ones.

That is why SEO basics include learning about your target audience’s psychology. This involves determining a user’s motivation when searching for the products and services that you offer.

On the other hand, using social media marketing will more likely allow you to cross paths with people with weak intent. These individuals are simply browsing through their news feeds when they encounter your brand, so they are not really in the mindset of spending money to enjoy your products or services. However, users that come across your brand on social media platforms are more likely to share your content and spread awareness about your brand.


Creating content for SEO vs social media can differ in two ways. You should be aware of the different topics and formats that work with these digital marketing strategies.


If you are doing SEO, you should focus on writing research-based content that provides your target audience with new information about a process, special topic, or even your new product or service. You should also choose evergreen topics that will stay relevant for a longer period.

However, if you are writing for social media, you should create content that stirs an emotional response, such as awe and joy, from your audience. You can also post about trending topics on social media to have a chance of going viral.


Long-form content does better in SEO. On average, pages that have more than 1500 words rank higher in Google.

This happens because most search engines assume that longer content contains more pieces of high-value information than shorter ones. Since they aim to provide the most value to their users, search engines prioritize showing longer content on their SERPs.

Unlike SEO, social media relies more on visuals and shorter posts. This is the case because your main goal in posting content on your social media platforms is to grab your target audience’s attention as soon as possible. The best way you can do this is by creating punchy, shareable content, such as images and videos, as opposed to research-based posts.


Another difference between search engine marketing and social media marketing is how soon you can see the results of your efforts. Although both strategies can take a while before showing your desired results, one technique can still take longer than the other.

SEO usually takes four to six months before you can notice any desirable results on your website. Even when working with an SEO company that uses aggressive strategies and concentrated efforts, you will still have to wait a long time.

You will also have to invest time when using social media marketing. Before gaining traction on any platform, you need to grow a following of people interested in your brand.

But once you have enough followers, you can start posting engaging content that your audience can interact with. These social media posts will appear instantly on users’ feeds and show results right away.

seo vs social media strategy

Success Rate

With SEO, you can use your website as your primary platform. Directing your target audience straight to your website or eCommerce store provides you with more chances of conversion. This is because users who stay on your website and browse through the products and services that you offer are more likely in the latter stage of the sales funnel.

On the contrary, social media does not provide you with much power to impact a sale and push people to convert. Its ability lies in building your brand awareness and spreading the word about the products and services that you offer. Although it may take more time, your social media efforts can eventually lead to conversions.


Although both SEO and social media marketing can greatly help your business in the online world, they still have some limitations. Firstly, both strategies are confined to the digital world, meaning you cannot reach and market to people who are not connected to the Internet.

SEO also has its own limitations, which mostly focus on its keywords. If the keywords you use are very difficult to rank for and do not have that much reach, your SEO efforts might not be enough for your business.

You may also have a hard time ranking on SERPs if no one is interested in your business online or if the niche you belong in is monopolized. If this is the case, you must spend time building your business’s online relevance first.

Social media marketing has a similar limitation. You may have trouble building a following on any platform if people are not interested in the products or services that you offer. Competing with a big name in your industry may also make your social media marketing goals harder to achieve.

Effort and Longevity

After putting in time and effort into SEO and social media marketing, you can see your desired results. However, how long do these results last?

SEO can take at least six months before you can see the results that you want. This may be a long time for most businesses, but when you achieve your goals, you can easily sustain its effectiveness. Once your web page is ranking, it will constantly be visible to online users and can provide your website with a steady stream of traffic.

For social media marketing, you might need to put in more effort. Although your posts can easily be seen by your audience and can garner engagement right away, their effects may not last as long as SEO. This means that you need to regularly post on your social media accounts to keep users engaged with and interested in your brand.

You can also opt to collaborate with a social media agency to do the hard work on your behalf. Companies that offer social media marketing services can help maintain your brand’s relevance on several platforms to save your time and effort.

Tracking, Measuring, and Analyzing Data

Measuring the success of your digital marketing campaign can be subjective because your efforts are usually specifically tailored to fit your business goals. However, you can still assess the performance of your campaign through trackable and measurable data.

In SEO, you can use Google Analytics to assess the success of your efforts. You can use the data it generates to measure your website’s reach, specifically by looking at your web pages’ impressions, clicks, and rankings.

However, you might have trouble measuring your engagement. You cannot see the behavior metrics with each keyword, so you cannot determine which keywords caused which activity on your website.

On the other hand, you can use Facebook Business Suite and other social media reporting tools to measure the performance of your social media activities. These tools can show you your posts’ social engagement so that you can determine how well people are interacting with your brand. What these tools cannot really measure is your reach, specifically the total visibility and traffic of all your social media activities.

SEO or Social Media Marketing: Which is Better?

Each digital marketing strategy has its benefits that can help you promote your business, especially your products and services, online. Instead of choosing one, think of ways on how you can use both to your advantage.

Remember that SEO and social media marketing are interdependent. SEO works to build your brand’s online visibility and authority. You can use it to encourage users to follow you on social media and boost your branding efforts.

Meanwhile, social media marketing can help you validate your authority as an online business. You can also use these platforms to improve your ranking on SERPs by building authentic relationships with your customers.

Utilizing both digital marketing strategies for your business will allow you to thrive in the online world. Ultimately, these techniques can boost your brand’s reach and improve your business’s bottom line.

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