When you start a blog or internet business, you’ll quickly find that the two most popular and effective ways of marketing are search engine optimization and social media. If you are able to master both then you have incredible potential for success.
However, sometimes time or circumstance may lead you to focus on one over the other. Or perhaps you find that one method is working better than the other for your particular style.
Over the course of this blog, I have had an opportunity to see each method in action. There are advantages to each. Here are some of my thoughts regarding the pros and cons of search engine optimization vs social media
Differences in Basic Skills Required
I believe there are a different set of skills required to be successful in each. Depending on your natural talents it may take time to learn and cultivate your skills to be successful in each medium.
In my mind, I think it’s easier to learn the basic skills necessary for good SEO or search engine optimization. For the most part, if you have basic writing skills, you already have the tools necessary for building up your SEO. You just need to write regularly on your blog, and then visit other blogs, forums, bookmarking sites, article directories, etc… to create some links back to your blog.
Off-site SEO is the most time consuming part of the process, and generally only requires you to provide some quality, thought provoking content outside your blog or website with anchor text back.
Social Media on the other hand requires a specialized sort of social skill. For many people, this may be a more amorphous skill to learn. You need to know how to catch the attention of the public to draw them back to your blog. You will have to be able to make friends.
Some people find this process easy, whereas others may have to learn to become more outgoing.
Differences in How Quickly You see the Benefits
If you are practicing good, white hat SEO, then you should expect that it will take some time before you see the benefits. I’m talking about the long term. One of the factors that search engines take into account is the age of your blog as well as the amount of backlinks and the quality of the backlinks.
Of course the quality of the backlinks is also based partially on the age and rank of the website that it originates from as well as the age of the backlink itself. There’s no real way to fake the passage of time. In most cases, I think it would take upwards of 6 months and often times closer to a year to see the consistent benefits of SEO.
The advantage of social media is that it has an instant effect if you find the secret of creating something viral. Well before I was getting regular search engine traffic, I had an article catch on in StumbleUpon. My article garnered over 1000 hits in a single day and more over the course of weeks and months before tapering off to normal levels.
You simply won’t see these kinds of spikes in a short amount of time with SEO. However, getting this kind of traffic from Social Media is equal parts luck, timing, and skill, whereas SEO will build up steady traffic in a consistent manner.
I think of SEO as the steady paced turtle in this race, while Social Media is like the rabbit.
Differences in Your Time Requirements
Both methods require a lot of time. However, I think that Social Media is faster paced and evolving, so it requires more constant attention. If you are using twitter and engaged in a conversation, you need to be active in that conversation. You can’t stop and pick up the conversation again in an hour.
If you are marketing mostly in Social Media, I think that it requires more constant attention to be successful.
SEO, on the other hand also requires a lot of time and effort, but you can spread it out. There’s no real negative impact on Search Engine Optimization if I step away from the computer for 8 hours to go to work. I can do a little in the morning and come back to it at night and pick up where I left off.
You may find that one style of marketing simply fits your personal schedule better. For myself, I have a much more difficult time being active on the social media side because I am also working full time in a demanding profession. I don’t get as much of an opportunity to engage in a long conversation on the social media side.
However, it’s a much simpler matter for me to work on SEO. I can take the time before or after work to write an article. I can visit other blogs in my spare time and leave comments.
Spikey Traffic vs Steady Traffic
Once you start seeing the benefits of SEO and Social Media, you will notice that each brings in a different sort of traffic. I really don’t have a preference as far as traffic is concerned. As long as people are visiting the blog, I’m happy.
However, you will see that SEO is much more consistent in bringing in traffic. Once you have content that gets hits from search engines, it gets fairly consistent. I get a steady average of visitors daily to the articles that are getting hits.
Social Media on the other hand comes in waves depending on what’s popular. For example, you may write an article that gets popular in social media and get 1000 hits in a single day and then taper off. The same article using SEO might get 20 hits a day, but stay steady. It may take a couple of months, but the SEO article will eventually catch up to the social media article.
Like I said, all kinds of traffic is good. But of course knowing the different types of traffic patterns that your marketing methods might bring in could help you strategize how you market particular articles.
For instance, if you are doing a product review and plan to use affiliate links, are you looking to get a huge spike early on and then tapering off or do you want to concentrate on steady, consistent traffic over time? Of course the best scenario would be to have both, but sometimes beggars can’t be choosers.
These are just some of the examples that I’ve noticed as far as the differences between these two marketing methods. Each of these methods have their pros and cons. Depending on your style, comfort zone and talent set, you may find more success using one method over the other. If you are able, I would suggest learning how to use both methods. And if you are able to master both, your potential for success can be unlimited.