Search Engine or Social Media, Which Generates more Traffic?


Companies recognize that they are able to connect to millions of customers and potential customers through the internet.  Internet marketing has become indispensable to companies.  There are several types of internet marketing strategies, but two of the most polarizing are organic search engine optimization and social media marketing.  It seems like there is an ongoing battle between these two types of internet marketing strategies.  Companies usually choose one over the other. 

It does seem like companies invest in either one of these marketing strategies, or give either one of these strategies top priority.  However, rarely does a company equally use both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) as marketing strategies. 
The question has always been which generates more traffic?  Since the stakes are high, there are a lot of opinions about this.  There are two seemingly different sides to this conflict:  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on one side and Social Media Marketing (SMM) on the other side.

However SEO and SMM are not mutually exclusive and should not be in conflict with each other.  In fact, they complete each other like burger and fries. So this means that in the battle for traffic, SEO and SMM should not be on opposite sides of the field.  They are in fact, a band of brothers.

What is the connection between SEO and SMM and why should there be no conflict between them? We all know that excellent curated content and first-rate keyword research are both important approaches to effective SEO. Great content and keywords are also essential in social media marketing.

Many businesses are now recognizing that SEO and SMM should not be opposed to each other, and in fact should be working together.  They are inextricably entwined activities, and companies should be able to utilize them both effectively. When companies use SEO effectively, it bolsters up search engine rankings.  Many people who go visit a company’s website also want to connect with them on social media.  SMM opens avenues for your brand’s untapped potential market.  There is no other marketing channel that could compare to the benefits that social media gives to SEO.

There are actually a lot of ways that SEO and SMM can merge and work together well. In fact, many companies are now investigating exactly how social media signals affect their site’s visibility.

This article proposes two things:

(1) Utilizing social media channels results in effective search engine optimization and

(2) Website rankings are not influenced by social media signals.

Having mentioned those two previous proposals, this article would like to emphasize that sharing content through Social Media not only brings visitors to a company’s website, but also encourages engagement.  When visibility of your site increases, then it indirectly influences your website’s performance in search engines, therefore boosting SEO as well.

Utilizing social media channels results in effective search engine optimization

Social media marketing has an impact on SEO, and it is much more significant than anyone realizes. Brands can benefit from social media in the areas of building brands, building an audience, distribution of content and lead generation.

To address the first statement above, which is “utilizing social media channels results in effective SEO”, we came up with a list of SMM’s indirect effects on SEO. While SMM has no direct impact on SEO, many acknowledge that its indirect impacts have very powerful effects. Some of its indirect effects are the following:

  • When a subject matter or brand influencer retweets, shares, or posts an essential piece of brand information or content, it will bring credibility to the brand.
  • Social media creates better reputation management. Social media profiles are able to bump off unwanted first page search results for your brand. When someone searches your company name, your social media sites rank high, particularly Facebook, LinkedIn, FourSquare, YouTube, and Twitter.  When social media sites appear on the first page rankings, they have the ability to bump off sites with negative reviews or bad entries about your company.
  • Social media will be able to help content creators with better ideas and better ways to make targeted content.
  • SMM confirms whether your brand is trustworthy and if your company has excellent customer service and good customer feedback. Many people are social media savvy and will not just believe what a company website feeds them.  In order to check out the company, they usually go to their social media accounts and find out the comments and feedback about their brand.  Comments and feedback on social media sites are good indicators of the level of engagement, customer service, and product quality that a company has.  Visitors will also look for information on how your customer service staff handled a complaint or a negative comment about your brand on social media.

Website rankings are not influenced by social media signals

The second statement, which is “website rankings are not influenced by social media signals”, comes from the long-held belief that content that gets viral in social media will get high search engine rankings.  This belief is erroneous because of the following reasons:

  • According to the largest search engine, Google, they do not consider social media signals as one of their considerations for ranking the significance of websites. Google regards social media posts just like any other web pages search, and does not consider these posts as a ranking factor.
  • Despite the fact that correlation studies show that there is a positive correlation between social media signals and search engine rankings, basic research and statistics knowledge tells us that correlation only shows relationship, but not causation. The point is, yes, there is a relationship between social media signals and search engine rankings, but to say that social media signals causes search engine rankings is a different story.
  • Google’s crawling bots algorithms does not index every single page. The crawling bots are programmed to be selective, and only evaluate web pages that are deemed valuable. This means there is no guarantee that it sweeps through millions and millions of Twitter content. In fact, Google has admitted that they are not able to crawl through all the pages of Twitter and Facebook.

Despite the fact that Google does not rank social media rankings, it is still valuable for companies to do social media marketing.  Social media is not intended for search rankings, but for brand building and being a medium to channel traffic.  An active social media presence and clever content plus network building strategies will contribute greatly to growing your brand and developing trust and reputation for your company.  It also builds traffic through the sites that are linked to your post.

Social media marketing and how it generates traffic

Social media marketing is a subset of internet marketing, and its main purpose is to gain website traffic through various social media sites.  The activities of SMM are generally focused on creating content that attracts enough attention so that users will share, retweet, or re-post it in their social media sites. Social media now becomes an accessible platform for companies to create awareness for their brand. This idea hinges upon the power of social media to create viral content, and the time-tested word-of-mouth approach.

How do social media marketing drive traffic?  First of all, it engages viewers and connects with the audience by asking them to actively participate in the decision making process through surveys, reviews, etc. Through social media, you can easily associate with industry influencers by becoming a source of information or advice, and thus increasing brand loyalty and customer retention.

In order to drive traffic using social media marketing, you should be able to know what you should post, know how often you should be posting, and how often should you post without your audience perceiving it as spam and just ignoring it. Here’s some valuable insight from studies done by social media marketing analysts on how often you should post on social media:

Pinterest – 5 posts per day

Twitter – 3 posts per day

Facebook – 2 posts per day

Some valuable strategies for increasing traffic on your social media page are: sharing the same content more than once, using hashtags, joining social network groups and communities, and posting with videos and visuals.

In order to verify the distribution of SMM traffic, employ the help of web traffic intelligence tools such as SimilarWeb. SimilarWeb assimilates a vast amount of user behavior data for websites, working with a variety of sources to come up with the most accurate ranking based on important metrics such as traffic and engagement.

Organic SEO traffic

How does one generate traffic from organic search engines?  There are a number of techniques used in generating traffic using organic SEO such as keyword research, keyword analysis, creating backlinks, and link building, and creating relevant and engaging content.

Keyword research and keyword analysis may seem like overused terms when it comes to generating SEO traffic, but you need to keep in mind that people who deliberately type key words are specifically looking for something, and the fact that they made an effort to search for it means that they are interested enough to purchase your product or avail of your services. In writing content using keywords already identified, the first thing that should be done is to look for content that already contains that keyword.  It is called benchmarking in business terms, because you want to scope out the competition.  The next thing to do is to create content that is better than the one you read, using the same keyword.

It is also important to look for influencers in your field, and then find out what your influencers care about and what appeals to them.  Your content should be relevant and appealing to these influencers so that it would lead them to share it with their audience.

Backlinks are also important for generating SEO traffic. Backlinks are important to analyze because they are the links coming from other websites that direct their users to your website.  Having a high percentage of backlinks will facilitate high rankings for your site on search engines.  Backlinks are often called one of the building blocks of excellent SEO. In fact, it is much simpler to get an increased ranking with the use of backlinks versus influencing search engines with external backlinks from other sites.

The synergy of Social Media Marketing and SEO Traffic

It is possible to use both social media marketing and SEO in order to drive traffic to your website and create higher search engine rankings.  Using the power of both methods is a win-win strategy for your business.  You just need to remember that these are two very different strategies with different results.  It could start off simply, like for example, immediately after publishing a blog post on your website, then share it immediately on your social media accounts.  Social Media and Search Engine can both work in synergy to create an ideal internet marketing scenario for your company.