SEO vs. Social Media: How to Optimize Your Digital Marketing Strategy

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Businesses often find themselves at a crossroads, deciding between focusing their efforts on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Social Media Marketing (SMM). Each strategy offers unique benefits and targeting capabilities, but choosing the right approach—or finding the right balance—can dramatically impact your online visibility and business growth.

The difference between SEO and social media

SEO and social media serve different, yet complementary, roles in an online marketing strategy. SEO is all about optimizing your website to rank higher in search engine results and attract organic traffic, which involves keyword research, content creation, and link building. 

Contrarily, social media marketing focuses on building brand awareness and engagement through various platforms like Facebook, X (Twitter), Instagram, and LinkedIn. By understanding the strengths and limitations of each, you can better align the marketing efforts of your organization with its overall business objectives.

SEO vs. social media

Advantages of SEO

  • Long-term Growth. SEO is a long-term strategy that builds up over time, providing sustained traffic to your website. High rankings in search results lend credibility to your business and can generate continuous, passive traffic.

  • Cost-Effectiveness. Once established, the ongoing costs of maintaining SEO are often lower compared to paid advertising strategies. Organic search traffic does not require ongoing payment for traffic to continue.

  • Targeted Reach. SEO helps capture traffic from users who are actively searching for specific products or services, ensuring that the visitors to your site are more likely to convert.

Advantages of Social Media Marketing

  • Immediate Interaction. Unlike SEO, social media allows for instant communication and interaction with your audience, enabling real-time engagement and customer service.

  • Brand Building. Social media platforms are excellent tools for building brand personality and for storytelling, which can humanize your brand and help attract and retain customers.

  • Audience Targeting. Social media platforms offer sophisticated targeting options, such as demographics, interests, and behaviors, allowing you to tailor content specifically to the needs and preferences of different segments of your audience.

Benefits of combining SEO and social media

When it comes to building your brand, increasing traffic, generating leads, and increasing conversions, it’s not always a matter of SEO vs. social media. Rather, the key to a successful strategy often resides in combining SEO and social media.

Here are the 2 main benefits that will ensue from juggling both strategies to support your business goals:

  • Enhanced Content Strategy. A strong content strategy relies on and is supported by both social media insights and SEO. For example, you can use social media insights to understand what content resonates with your audience and then leverage those to inform your SEO content strategy. This can enhance the relevance and effectiveness of your SEO efforts, and up conversions on your website by giving your audience content and solutions that resonate with them and their needs.

  • Improved Search Engine Rankings. Social signals (likes, shares, comments) don't directly influence SEO rankings but sharing content through social platforms can lead to more organic link-building as people discover and reference your content in their own articles or blogs. Try to optimize your content first, then share it on social media and via your employees to expand the reach of your content.

  • Broadened Reach and Visibility. SEO combined with social media ensures your content reaches both users who are searching for your services and those who may not be aware they need your product or service until they see it on social media. This is another example of how smoothly and seamlessly SEO and social media can work together to help you achieve your business goals.

How to optimize your digital marketing strategy

Evaluating your current strategy should be the starting point to optimizing your strategy: look at what currently works and what doesn’t in your SEO and social media practices, what you would like to improve and why.

Then, of course, define goals. What do you want to achieve with your strategy? What are your expectations for each channel? For SEO, it might be improving organic rankings for certain keywords. For social media, it could be increasing follower engagement or using ads to drive sales.

Once your goals are clear, it will be easy to see how to combine them to support each other and develop a combined approach. Integrate SEO and social media strategies where possible: for example, promote SEO-rich blog posts on your social media channels and use popular social media topics to inspire new SEO content.

Lastly, monitor progress and effectiveness and make sure to adjust your strategy regularly as you see fit. Use analytics tools to track the performance of both SEO and social media, making adjustments based on data-driven insights.


Start today by auditing your current online presence and setting specific, measurable goals for each channel. Whether you lean more towards SEO, social media, or a blend of both, understanding how to leverage each will empower your business to capture more leads, engage more customers, and grow faster.

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