The battle between Social Media and SEO

When clients call us asking for search engine optimization (SEO) services, often what they really need is social media marketing. But sometimes they call us asking for pay-per-click campaigns when their money would be better spent investing in SEO. When it comes to increasing your company’s website traffic, there are plenty of options to choose from, and unless you’re a digital marketer it can be difficult to know which is best. This article sheds light on a question we’ve been hearing a lot lately: what’s more important for driving web traffic – social media or SEO?

Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Strategy for Your Business

As much as we hate giving this answer to inquiring minds – “it depends.” But here are a few considerations to help you select the best digital marketing strategy for your business:

The Competition

The competitive landscape of your industry is one of the biggest factors to consider when selecting the best digital marketing strategy for your business. If you have 1 or 2 main competitors, there’s a good chance you could land on the first page of Google search results with just a basic SEO campaign. However, attempting to claim prime search engine real estate for the keywords “Toronto Dentists” or “Toronto restaurants” could cost a small fortune – at which point you should consider more cost-effective alternatives for your digital marketing budget, such as social media.

It’s worth noting the importance of appearing on the first page of Google search results. According to this study, less than 5% of searchers ever make it to the second page of Google search results. What does that mean for your business? SEO may not be worth investing in if it’s not possible to make it to the first page of search results!

Your Budget

This brings us to an important point – which is that you should consider what budgetary resources you have at your disposal when choosing a digital marketing strategy. When it comes to digital marketing, not all clicks are equal. They differ in quality (where they fall along the readiness-to-buy spectrum) and quantity and price as a result. Organic traffic is free – once you rank well in the search engines that is, which could mean years of investing into SEO! Clicks generally cost less on social media, but conversion rates tend to be higher through Google Adwords – but the cost per conversion is generally lower on social media! If this sounds confusing to you, feel free to contact us to speak with a digital marketing specialist to help determine the best bang for your digital marketing buck.

Click here to see our blog post comparing conversion rates for Google Adwords vs. Facebook Advertising!

Your Business Model

What your business does will have an impact on what your digital marketing strategy should be. First consider: do people know about your product to even go looking for it in the first place? We have many start-ups that approach us looking for help with their SEO, but if they’re launching a new invention that people don’t yet know exists, there’s not much point in ranking it in the search engines because people won’t be searching for it. Make sense?

Bearing these considerations in mind, here’s a general overview of what social media and SEO can do to grow your business online.

Social Media

Social media is the most cost effective way to gain traffic. It’s the ideal option for new business owners who have just launched a website and are not yet highly ranked. Whereas SEO takes time – months even years – to see results, social media will start sending targeted traffic to your site as soon as you setup an ad.

Social media is also great for marketers on a budget. You can spend as little as $5/day on Facebook! You can be more specific about who sees your ads as well to avoid spending advertising dollars on eyeballs that would never use your product or service. What’s more, content that is shared organically is 100% free!

That said, it’s essential to keep in mind that social media is highly labor intensive and requires continuous effort. Since social media is a fast-paced environment, content gets old, fast. Therefore, you need to consider the time invested into social media on top of what you’re spending on paid media. If social media is something that you want to invest in but simply don’t have the time for, you could hire a social media consultant. You can read more on that here.


If you can get your page ranked in the top few spots under relevant search categories, prepare for your business phone to start ringing off the hook. The best part? Each click to your website is free! Well, sort of. Getting your website to those coveted first spots is tough. First, through SEO and the content you create you can target keywords that are more likely to get your website noticed. Second, you have the option of spending money through the Pay Per Click (PPC) model where you can essentially buy your visits through sponsored links. Getting your website on the first page of a search engine is necessary for new businesses because it will account for more consistent traffic – the fastest and easiest way to do this is through a PPC model. If you are looking to earn your traffic completely organic, this is not the option to do so.

So, which option is more important for website traffic? The answer is both.

Social media is a cost-effective tool that can generate lots of targeted traffic in an instant. SEO takes time and effort, but if it’s a viable strategy for your business, it could be the best digital investment you ever make (after your website, of course). If you’re not sure which strategy is best for your website, give us a call today – we’d be happy to help you out!

Atlas Communications is a Toronto social media marketing company specializing in social media branding, lead-generation, and results-driven campaigns for companies of all sizes. Contact our agency today for all of your social media marketing needs!


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