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September 26, 2016

What’s More Important for Blog Promotion: SEO or Social Media?

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By this point, everyone in marketing knows and understands the sheer power that an effective content marketing strategy can have. If you develop a blog that serves a specific niche that people actually want to read, you can use it as a gateway to earning virtually unlimited traffic for your business.

As Neil Patel explains in his guide on building a blog, you need to write excellent content that serves a specific demographic—but if you want to kick-start the popularity of that blog, you need to go out and promote it. Otherwise, your great content will exist in a vacuum and nobody will be around to read it.

Which Channel to Choose?

There are dozens of ways to promote your blog, but two stand out in the crowd: search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing. These two strategies share a number of advantages:

  • Cost. There’s no actual cost to either SEO or social media, at least not necessarily. You can adjust your site and build out social media profiles for free; you might pay in the form of time or if you contract with an agency, but even then these are relatively inexpensive means of promotion.
  • Practicality. As demonstrated by Moz’s guide to SEO basics, it doesn’t take much effort or time to learn the basics of either strategy. They’re highly learnable, even for amateurs, and are relatively simple to execute once you have an idea how to follow through with them.
  • Scalability. Both strategies are about long-term returns, and have the potential to grow your return on investment (ROI) exponentially over time.

But which of these is more important, or more efficient for getting your blog up and running?

SEO Advantages

SEO has a few unique advantages as a promotional strategy that social media can’t touch:

  • Wider audience targeting. In SEO, you’ll also be face-to-face with a bigger potential new audience. In social media, you’ll be restricted to finding small sections of new audiences, but one key organic search ranking can net you thousands of new impressions in one fell swoop.
  • Semi-permanence. Search rankings are highly volatile, both because of Google’s updates and because of new competitors rising and falling. However, when you earn a ranking, you’ll keep it for a while; in social media, a popular post will probably fade from users’ attentions within a few days at the most.

Social Media Advantages

However, social media also has some key advantages:

  • Personal interaction. On social media, you’ll be engaging people face-to-face, on a more personal level. This gives you the opportunity to attract more involved readers, and show off your brand’s personality.
  • Audience retention. In search engines, most people are looking for quick answers. But on social media, people are looking to follow brands and organizations indefinitely. Winning a click-through search rankings will earn you a visitor for the day, but winning a follow will earn you a follower for the indefinite future.
  • Versatility. Social media also gives you the flexibility to post about your blog in more creative, differentiated ways. You aren’t limited to writing a simple title and description the way you are in organic search rankings; instead, you can repackage older posts, put a promotional spin on them, or use an amusing line to attract more attention.

Which One to Choose?

As you can see, both SEO and social media marketing have huge advantages, yet are differentiated from each other. If personal relationships with your customers is important to you, social media is the clear victor. If you’re more interested in building semi-permanent visibility, SEO should be your main priority.

But either way, you should be using both strategies to promote your blog. They’re cheap enough and approachable enough to use simultaneously; plus, your efforts in one area will likely affect your results in the other, leading to a mutually beneficial setup. There’s no excuse not to run with both.


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Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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