Traffic from SEO vs traffic from social … the debate has been raging for quite a while, with most experts veering one way or another for a while, and then declaring both are complementary and not to be compared. But does that ever end the debate? No! It still goes on. Our Content Marketing Roundups usually pick topics that most people would consider a perplexing dilemma, but we think it’s important to see if people have worked their way around these types of online marketing vexes. That’s why we have chosen this topic for you to get a flavor of what those who’ve experimented think on this issue.
Our picks for this Content Marketing RoundUp include some great quotes from the blog posts of Alexandra Tachalova, Kishen Sreehari, Lilach Bullock, Grace Turner, Jon Dykstra, Andy Crestodina, Craig Zevin and Paul Hudson. I hope their opinions open your mind to the possiblities of both SEO and social. How to use them separately or together for traffic is then up to you.
Social engagement begets backlinks and referral traffic, which helps SEO: Alexandra Tachalova
Alexandra Tachalova in the article “The Battle for Traffic: Organic SEO vs. Social Media Marketing”:
I wanted to shed some light on how leading digital marketing blogs focused on SMM and SEO niches attract visitors, and what traffic sources work best for them.
It’s quite logical to assume that blogs focused on search marketing should be getting significantly more organic traffic compared to blogs that write about SMM. Accordingly, SMM blogs should be receiving the majority of their visitors from social media channels, since social media marketing is their area of expertise.
Yet, I found out that the situation is much more nuanced than that. Drawing on examples using ten well-known SEO and SMM blogs, we saw that SMM-focused blogs perform better in organic search than SEO-focused blogs.
The high levels of engagement SMM blogs receive from social media allow them to get more backlinks and referral traffic, which, in turn, helps them rank higher organically.”
Big businesses in the SEO space are getting their traffic from social: Kishen Sreehari
Kishen Sreehari in the article “Social Traffic vs. Search Traffic: Which Is Better For Bloggers?”:
Backlinko is the popular SEO blog on the internet. Brian Dean (the owner of Backlinko) doesn’t even write that many articles. He focuses on a few pieces, but he pushes that content considerably. Understandably, search engines offer him the highest amount of traffic for Backlinko.
And rightfully so. A blog about SEO should have a lot of search traffic.
It’s actually pretty awesome that he gets 4% of his traffic from social media because you wouldn’t expect technical SEO content to do well on social media at all. My guess is most of this traffic comes from Twitter as there are a lot of marketers on there tweeting and retweeting SEO hacks.
The two other numbers that stand out are direct traffic (34%) and email traffic (7%). That amount of direct traffic suggests Backlinko is a great brand. And that high of email traffic suggests that every time he sends out an email, he’s making his subscribers excited about his high-quality content.”
Look beyond the numbers and focus on the source of the quality of traffic: Lilach Bullock
Lilach Bullock in the article “Social Media vs. SEO: Which is the Best Traffic Source?”:
This is a very difficult decision to make; the truth is, you need both in order to truly grow and scale your business. But at the same time social media, in my experience, has a few more benefits up its sleeve than SEO does.
The answer to this also depends a lot on varying factors that pertain to a particular, individual business. There’s no clear answer that works across board – different businesses have different needs, different approaches and so on. The best place to start is to look at your own traffic to see what your current main traffic sources are.
But, even more important than that, look beyond the numbers and focus on the quality of your traffic. What’s the bounce rate like for social media vs. organic search traffic? How much time do the visitors from each source spend on your website? And most importantly, what’s your conversion rate like for each of the two traffic sources?
After all, no matter how much traffic you’re getting to your website, if that traffic doesn’t take some sort of action that moves them along the sales funnel, then it won’t help you achieve your overall business goals.”
If you can get through the first few months of blogging, it definitely gets easier: Grace Turner
Grace Turner in the article “Organic SEO Vs. Social Media Marketing: Which Is Better?”:
There is an important debate among marketing experts today about which strategy to use to grow online businesses – SEO or social media?
A lot of times, a company might hire an SEO expert or an SEO agency to grow their business without noticing the power of social media. On the other hand, some decide to leverage the social media presence by hiring a social media manager and focus all of their time on growing their social media audience without using SEO at all.
According to a report produced by eConsultancy, 61% of consumers actually use search engines to help them do product research before deciding to purchase. At the same time, 75% of people between ages of 18 – 26 rely on recommendations from their peers on social media to influence their purchases. With data that pushes us in either direction, it’s hard to make a choice.
Each marketing channel that you use is only effective if you target a specific audience because that’s how you bring relevant engagement, traffic, and sales. It’s definitely easier to target an audience on social media rather than using organic SEO. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social channel, each has its own built-in target audience that essentially acts as a template for different brands looking to find the right audience to buy their product or service.”
Choose traffic sources you enjoy pursuing, you’ll likely attract results: Jon Dykstra
Jon Dykstra in the article “SEO Traffic vs. Paid Traffic vs. Organic Social Media Traffic”:
Obviously choose the traffic source(s) that work for you. However, beyond that, choose traffic sources you enjoy pursuing. Chances are you’ll become good at it.
Some people are brilliant with social media posting. They enjoy huge payoffs. Some people love the analytical nature of paid traffic. Some people love the work involved with SEO.
While I believe pursuing multiple traffic sources is smartest, chances are you’ll prefer the activities involved with one more than others. Focus on that because you’ll likely get the best results.
If all sources work for your business and you don’t enjoy it, do everything you can to get to a point where you can outsource the work you don’t like.”
Social is much faster on results and virtually unlimited on traffic potential: Andy Crestodina
Andy Crestodina in the article “Social vs. Search: 9 Differences Between Social Media and SEO”:
How much time and patience is required? How soon will you see results from search and social? Although growing a following takes time, social media posts appear instantly and results can happen within minutes.
SEO is typically slow and uncertain. Even highly relevant pages take days to get indexed and rank. It often takes years to build up enough credibility to compete for the most valuable phrases.
How much success is possible? What is the upside for the very successful marketer? There is virtually no limit to the amount of traffic a page can get from social media. A huge number of people may share a piece of content. If you’ve ever seen the Analytics for content that has “gone viral,” you know just how far and how fast things can spread.
There is a ceiling to the amount of traffic a page will get from a search engine. Traffic will never exceed the number of people who search for that phrase each day. The total demand for the topic (the search volume) is the maximum amount of traffic the page will get from search engines.”
2017 was an inflexion point when social yielded back to SEO as the best traffic source: Craig Zevin
Craig Zevin in the article “Pinterest, Google, & Instagram big winners as Facebook share of visits falls 8% in 2017”:
Looking back on 2017, we saw a major tide shift in how sites receive their traffic. After years of strong growth by Social Networks, Search finally had a comeback year and overtook Social as the top traffic driver within our network.
A year ago, site visitors were much more likely to be referred from social networks, but now they are increasingly likely to come from search engines. Against all odds, 2017 was the year that Search made a comeback. Since 2014, Search had paced behind Social in share of visits but retook the lead in 2017, driving 34.8% of site visits in 2017, compared to 25.6% from social.
At a high level, it is clear that social media’s tenuous grip on being the top referral category is over. After beating out search for the last three years, it has given back the title, driven by changes to the algorithms behind Facebook’s News Feed.
As search engines index more and more social content and include it in their rankings and results pages, it’s no surprise that they’ve been able to stay competitive with the growing volume and consumption of social media. Instead of searching for news and content on individual social networks, users can increasingly find it aggregated within search engines. Google, in particular, benefitted from the changes in social traffic; their dominant market share within search allowed them to reclaim their spot as the #1 overall traffic referrer.”
You need all the ingredients of the acronyms and the backronyms to make a soup of it: Paul Hudson
Paul Hudson in the article “What’s the Difference? Search Engine vs Social Media Marketing”:
It’s easy to see how these separate functions of marketing come together. While SEO (search engine optimization) is powerful in of itself it’s the varied team that combines specialties within SEM (search engine marketing) and SMM (social media marketing) which will see incredible results.
As mentioned above, the beauty of combining SEO with SEM and SMM is that you have a combination of immediate results and conversions combined with long term results. Magic can happen when you convert PPC (pay-per-click) customers into long term brand advocates through a vibrant and engaging social media scene that they can tap into after making their purchase.
Guiding natural SEO with this organic page ranking is an all encompassing way of running a campaign and is an exciting prospect should all the bases be covered. As with all things business it will come down to your resources and immediate priorities as to your decision of which channel of marketing to pursue first. Have a budget? Start with PPC and kick off your SEO behind the scenes with an eye for long-term growth.
Limited on budget but have time to spare? Get deep into your SEO work and wait patiently as the ranks start to increase and natural traffic comes through. It’s all about balance. As if you needed more to stuff into your head!”
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of aspiring digital solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Marketing RoundUps”:
- When Content Marketing Doesn’t Work … Solohacks Roundup #1!
- How To Make Blogging Feel Easier … Solohacks Roundup #2!
- Content Creation Outsourcing Success … Solohacks Roundup #4!
- How To Get Out Of A Creative Rut … Solohacks Roundup #5!