Social media OR SEO – it’s a balancing act to decide which is best to use and to decide which is more important.
So, even though I’ve my own opinions, I decided to ask 20 different renowned marketers what their opinion on the was on whether one takes precedence over the other.
Q. Social Media or SEO? – Which is more Important and why
A. Roxanasoi (The Brain at SERPlified)
I believe we live in an age in which you cannot have one without the other. In my experience, I’ve had clients who wanted SEO only without any Social Media, and in the long run, we experienced a big handicap: there was no community around the brand. The brand was vulnerable and lacked stability.
I also had clients who wanted Social Media only, and while that enabled us to build a community, it cost us a lot in another “department”: the Organic one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have a community and a constant buzz about your brand. But what happens when you don’t get any surprises? SEO is the one that feeds nice surprises to the brand: you get a new hit on your website, a visitor converts into a buyer and even subscribes to your newsletter.
I think you need both SEO and Social Media to generate what I like to call Social SEO: the result of brands reaching their ideal followers and unexpected visitors converting themselves into ideal followers for your brand. It’s never one-sided and you can never grow as a brand if only one party does the outreach, it has to be mutual.
Imagine back in the early days, a brand would be translated into a cult. So let’s say every brand is the modern version of a cult. Every cult had to start somewhere, with a foundation, a mission and vision that people would embrace. At first, it had to stay hidden because other cults were a majority (talking about tough competition). It had to build trust, by imagining the general, lost user who happens to stumble upon something that resonates with their beliefs. That would be SEO in our days: general, untargetted outreach; the general user just types a search query related to his beliefs (and needs), and lands on you website. Now going back to the cult story, the cult wouldn’t grow that much if it didn’t rely on people recommending it. So the cult attracted specific people, with power of speech, with the power to spread the word. You could translate that into Social Media today. In time, the cult became strong and had enough followers to be officially recognized.
If you just take this simple medieval example into account, the answer has always been there: you need both, they are complementary, you can’t have one without the other. If you want your brand (your cult) to be officially recognized, that is.
It is kind of the chicken or the egg. But I always figured the chicken came first so I have to go with SEO first. If you get your site optimized to get traffic going to your site than you stand a better chance to get your Social Media out there were it can be seen. Of course, once you get traffic and get an audience then Social Media will add to it. Neither is easy although we all know the basics of both aspects they both take a lot of work to pull off right. Especially the Social Media part as you have to constantly feed the beast or it dies!
A. Mimuba (Mi Muba says SEO and social media are different tools of blog promotion)
It is quite difficult to outright say what is more important SEO or social media. Both have their own significance for blog promotion.
Basically there are two objectives of blog promotion. One is short term promotion and other one is long term promotion. With social media we promote our blog posts on short term basis. We share the URL at social media and people notice it and visit our blog if headlines impress them. After awhile our each sharing at social media goes into deep bottom of archives at our timeline.
For long term promotion we do both on-page and off-page SEO. It get our posts ranking higher and we keep getting traffic at our blog from searches at Google and other search engines.
So both SEO and social media help us bring traffic at our blog and the difference is one brings on short term basis and other one on long term basis. So difference is there but importance wise both are equally important.
A. Konstantinos (co-founder of Beakon)
As Google became a giant and changed the SEO landscape, more and more business are turning to social media.
Actually, search engines themselves are turning to social media. With Google loving Google+, tying up the knot with Twitter and propably using social signals as ranking factors, the future of marketing is social.
While on-page and local SEO remain business’s top marketing focus, social media marketing should be the runner-up.
Indeed, social pr and social shares can increase engagement and bring quality traffic to your website, which is a key factor in search engine ranking. More quality traffic equals more UX – user/customer experience and eventually less bounce rate. Thus, social media will be the “easy” SEO of the future!
A. LRJordan (Founder of Intergeek)
As much as I want to say that SEO is more important, it’s simply not the case. I really don’t want to stand on the fence on this one but they’re both as equally as important as each other in my opinion.
Without social media, SEO just isn’t anywhere near as effective. Not only does the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and more bring in extra sources of traffic but they also offer amplification opportunities; you can naturally catch the eye of influencers who can link back to and share your content without you needing to outreach to them.
However, social traffic often peaks highly and falls dramatically within short timeframes, whereas organic search traffic will tend to stay steady and provide much more traffic in the long-term. I guess it’s kinda like the old tale of the tortoise and the hare.
A. David Leonhardt (President, The Happy Guy Marketing)
This is a huge loaded question, because not everybody can dominate SEO (only one top result for each search phrase, only ten results in the top ten for each search phrase, etc.), and not everybody can engage on social media because people will burn out. Ditto for billboards, flyers, TV ads, etc. If every company excelled at every marketing channel, people would just tune out and business would explode with costs.
With that preamble, I will say that social media is more important than SEO. The reason is twofold: first, you can engage your target market through social media, and the more active you are in social media, the more likely the market is to relate to you and eventually buy. Second, the more active you are on social media (especially if you direct people to various pages of your website), the more people will share your pages and link to them, which helps SEO. So with straight social media, you can also get significant SEO benefits; with straight SEO, nothing you do will reverberate in social media.
A. sef.caa.diz (BV Digital Marketing Director. H.I.M Founder. )
This is a great question, it’s like asking me which eye ball I like most. Let’s start off by asking the right questions before diving head first into this topic: what is your main objective?; does this decision impact a long-term or short-term marketing campaign?; what are your main key performance indicators?; what are your strengths? Weaknesses? Opportunities? Threats?; how much does your client have in their marketing budget?.
These are the types of questions one has to consider. Now after going through the discovery process only then data-driven marketers such as myself can answer and set this in stone.
But from the arm chair it appears you have put me in two situations:
1) a situation that begs for immediate results; hitting high-volume prospects at low-to-high cost = social.
2) a campaign for long-term investment with a potential to hit high volume eye balls at medium-to-high cost = organic SEO.
Conclusion: when brands conquer SEO; they conquer social with little effort.
The reality is that SEO and social media are morphing into one. Google doesn’t claim social signals impact on SEO but the reality is they most likely do. Conversely, for a good SEO campaign to work social media is needed. Nowadays both are intertwinned and neither is more important than the other.
A. Liudas – Easy M6.com
Search engines are the top traffic source for blogs so, I go with SEO. The biggest benefit of search engine traffic is that it accumulates. The more content you create, you start ranking for more keywords and getting more traffic and on social media the traffic comes in spikes when you promote something new.
Still, if you want to succeed with content marketing you can’t ignore social media because it’s starting to merge with SEO. Social signals are becoming more and more powerful ranking factors so you can’t just choose either or, you need to do both if you want to get the best results.
A. Erik Emanuelli (No Passive Income)
I often get asked how to rank well on search engines (and believe me, I’m not an SEO expert at all).
My answer is always the same : “Be sure to write first for your readers, and then optimize the content for search engines. With time, you will learn how to produce great content for your audience, while writing and doing SEO at the same time.”
So I put social media at first place, because if you are able to build a solid base of fans, they will follow you and read your content, no matter how many times search engines will update or change their algorithms (with the risk of losing the organic traffic you worked so hard for).
After all, it’s all about enhancing the user experience. In other words, satisfying your audience needs or problems.
Both are important and and I don’t think you can realistically separate the two these days. If I’m working on a client’s SEO I like to control the social media output as well. Social media is the engine for business growth because it is the most effective way to build an engaged audience for content marketing activity. I see SEO as the fine tuning you need to do to make sure people can find your website when they type in keywords. It is more likely that SEO will be successful if a brand is consistently associated with particular keywords in sociaql media and those signals will help contribute to all the other elements required to raise your Google ranking.
A. Ashley Faulkes (Online Marketer)
SEO has changed so much in the last few years that I no longer believe you can separate it from the likes of content and social media.
Content marketing is now an integral part of SEO because you need to have awesome content to share, get noticed, earn links, create relationships and much more. And a huge part of doing all of that is using social media to get your content noticed, find a new audience and ultimately customers for your website.
To even get a piece of content ranking highly requires quite a lot of promotion, and for most people using social media is one of the key parts of that. Of course, you also need to do email outreach and networking, and there is also a little bit of luck. However without any social media whatsoever, SEO will be a lot tougher for most people.
It is also often the case that the categories you choose become the main SEO keywords for your website and the hashtags you use for social media sharing. Which is to say, that SEO and social media very much go hand in hand.
A. kristawiltbank (Owner, Krista Wiltbank Digital Marketing)
As a social media person, I hate to say this, but I believe that SEO is more important than social media. Why? Good SEO puts your website in front of the people who are looking for your product/service. If you’re offering good enough content to be indexed on the first page of Google (or other search engine), then you’ve got a much better chance of having your customers find you. Plus, because SEO is done one your website, it’s something you can, to some degree, control.
Social, while powerful in its own right, is better for building brand awareness than it is for generating leads. It’s dependent on getting your message in front of the right audience, instead of the right audience actively searching for you. If you’re going to look at it in the framework of the marketing funnel, it’s towards the top. The other downside is that the social media platform, since it’s owned by someone else, can make changes at any time that can negatively impact YOUR business, but benefit its business. To take a very recent example, Pinterest just made an announcement that it would discontinue the practice of allowing affliate links as pins – which really upset the applecart for many businesses.
A. sbizideasblog (Small Business Ideas Blog)
I asked that question once on social media and people either said SEO or both SEO & social media. If I absolutely had to focus on just one, I would pick SEO because search engine traffic is ongoing while social media traffic is temporary. Even some social media experts, like Jon Loomer (Facebook expert), have admitted that they get more traffic from SEO.
However, it would be foolish to ignore social media completely, especially if you blog often. Blogs that are posting content daily or even weekly get a good boost in traffic from ongoing social media traffic. Social Media Examiner, for example, gets thousands of shares each day for their blog posts and they put out a new post each day.
It’s hard to separate the two entirely because you can promote content through social media and some of those people will link to your site. So I’d say figure out a way to integrate social media into your SEO to get the best results.
A. Gary Dek (Founder of StartABlog123.com)
I think the answer really depends on your skill set because each strategy presents its own benefits, challenges, and risks since both are controlled by larger entities that can change algorithms and disrupt your traffic flow. If an internet marketer can effectively drive great results (traffic, conversions, revenue) with social media, then more power to him/her to continue growing their accounts and influence. Personally, I’m not a social media person and my strengths are in SEO. I prefer it because I understand it and have the skills to deliver. Plus, I see solid search engine rankings as a form of recurring revenue when marketers produce evergreen content to target search terms with decent monthly volumes.
A. Lukasz Zelezny (Head of Organic Acquisition)
I am often asked this question but it is really hard to give a definitive answer. Both are important elements in any marketing campaign and both serve a purpose. When employed properly, they work hand in hand to get people to your website and keep them there. That’s what it’s all about – traffic.
I look at it like this. Great search engine optimised content brings in the traffic by ranking highly with the search engines. However, social media helps you establish a relationship with potential clients/customers. So, once you get them to your site, invite them to follow you on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Which do you need more, traffic or followers? You wouldn’t get either without the other.
A. Dev (WPKube)
Definitely Social Media!
In the last two years or so, Google has become a lot more smarter, and doesn’t rely just on backlinks to rank a website. Of course, links do play a significant part. But it also takes a number of other factors into account such as social shares and user engagement.
So it makes sense to focus more on social media, rather then spending all your time building links. Plus on social media sites like Twitter & Linkedin, you get the chance to build a strong personal relationship with your fans and followers.
Here are some tips to become active on social media sites —
- Signup for sites like JustRetweet, ViralContentBuzz, and Triberr, which can help you generate more tweets / shares.
- Use custom images with the help of third party tools like Canva or Pablo (by Buffer).
- Thank users who have already shared your posts.
A. AdWordsGirl (Search Engine Strategist)
I have always views Social Media to be something that happens in the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) process. You can do these amazing things to your website to make Google read it better like schema markup or writing better title tags, h1’s, URL, content etc but what’s the point if you’re not sharing all of that. Much like many other SEO’s, I believe Social Media to be an offline SEO task. The higer quality the content, the more traffic you will get which will result in more shares (aka links) which will result in a better page rank. So, to answer your question – neither are more important that the other; Social Media is SEO.
A. SoBold (SoBold)
This is a very good question. Search Engine Optimisation makes you more visibile on the web to those who may be searching for expertise in your particular field, however social media gives you the chance to sell yourself to your audience.
Through my experience I have found that both are extremely important however I would say that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is more important as it means your consumer can find you through their own accord. Social Media has an element of selling and you are pushing your brand out to certain audiences and communities.. When you are selling there is always a drop off rate.
In Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) you have been found by your audience and so long as your website is optimised in the certain way for consumers to make a purchase or find out more information then you have more chance of making more profit.
A. Tim Fehraydinov (Online marketer at Texterra web agency)
Well, I guess you can’t identify what’s more important. As for my blog, social networks give nice results, but they are not enough. This way you can say that SEO is more important, but I have a different opinion. It’s better to regard Social Media as a part of SEO, instead of as some separate tool. Even if there are no evidences that social signals may influence ranking, I have assured in my own experience that they do.
On another hand, let’s imagine you’re promoting a new blog. In this case SEO can exist without Social Media, while Social Media can’t exist alone.
It’s wrong to focus on one thing – include Social Media in your SEO, if you want to get a higher impact.
A. SEO Doctor (Gareth James)
The most important thing for any commercial website is making money. How traffic is driven to these sites is totally dependent on the niche, though I would say overall search drives the most traffic to the vast majority of sites. I do admire sites that ‘don’t need Google’. Sites like Buzzfeed and Viral Nova drive huge traffic from social, but can still be susceptible to changes such as with Facebook’s news feed algorithm. The key is to build up all your channels and not rely on any particular one, search, social and referral traffic.
It’s also important to note that Social Media is now part of SEO. If you build an amazing resource, it will not attract links without it doing well in social. The content must have amplification to reach the linkerati.