Why Social Media Can’t Replace Good SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | March 11, 2013

In this difficult economy, small to medium businesses (SMBs) have to make the most of their marketing dollars – and sometimes that means making difficult choices between SEO campaigns, social media campaigns and other online marketing. So what will attract more customers to your website – a social media blitz or an ongoing SEO campaign that improves your website incrementally? Let’s take a look at the strengths of both.

Social media

It’s very easy to set up and use a Twitter account or Facebook page. Once you collect enough followers, it takes only seconds to send a message to thousands of users, some of whom will pass your information or special offers on to their friends. And if you want to purchase ads, Facebook will be happy to sell you some. Quick, easy, inexpensive and effective in many ways, social media is hot right now.

But many SMBs simply set up their Facebook or Twitter persona and post or tweet away without considering what works or who’s reading – and who they’re not reaching if they choose social media at the expense of SEO.

Social media is great for interacting with customers and giving satisfied customers a way to share information about your products or services with their friends. The biggest limitation of social media is that it’s not generally where a potential customer goes to research solutions for a problem they need to solve, or read reviews about a product they’re interested in purchasing. Social media is stronger when it comes to interacting with consumers you’ve already done business with – for addressing their concerns and (hopefully) giving them a platform to tell the world how great your products, store, services and/or staff are!

Bottom line: If consumers really want to learn about your business before they place an order or walk into your store or restaurant – or if they want to read reviews written by other customers – search is the way they’ll accomplish that, not social media.

Search engine optimization

The very fact that people who search for your product or services are more likely to become your customers that people who happen to see your ad on Facebook or one of your tweets means that you can never neglect your SEO efforts. And that’s especially true if you’re a local business in need of walk-in customers: 88 percent of users who search for local information using their smartphone take action within a day.

That said, SEO isn’t as quick and easy a solution as social media campaigns. And it doesn’t show immediate, dramatic results. Running a successful SEO campaign takes dedication, ongoing research and unflagging commitment to creating and posting fresh content. So SEO is not a quick fix – but it sure pays off when it gets your content to the top of a search results page and helps convert searchers to customers.

SEO or social? The best option is a combo approach that uses the strengths of both SEO and social media. So share your blog posts on Facebook and Twitter, tweet that coupons or special offers are available on your website, and get people interested in what you have to offer in as many ways as possible! But if you ever have to choose one basket to put more of your online marketing eggs in, it should always be SEO.