SEO VS SM Marketing

SEO (search engine optimisation) and SM marketing (social media marketing) are both digital marketing tactics that are used by businesses from various industries to enhance their online reputation, attract customers and increase their sales. Although SEO and SM marketing can be used in tandem, each marketing tactic has different content, audiences, objectives and results.

SEO is the process of improving a website’s placement and visibility in the results of search engines like Google. The better visibility a web page has (i.e. what page and position of the search engine results it appears on), the more likely it is to attract attention and get clicks. SEO incorporates all sorts of actions, including keyword research and implementation, link building, content optimisation and more. Social media marketing, on the other hand, is the process of using apps like Instagram, Facebook and Youtube to promote a business, connect with customers and increase brand engagement.

If you would like to learn more about SEO, SM marketing and other digital marketing techniques, consider one of the many digital marketing courses available online. The University of Cape Town (UCT) offers a number of fantastic digital marketing courses that will allow you to broaden your knowledge of both traditional and digital marketing concepts. You will receive an official UCT certificate upon successful completion.


SEO content is designed to be informative and takes the form of written website content and blogs that are research-based and highly detailed. Search engines like Google favour long-form content, because this indicates that the source is providing a thorough examination of a topic. Social media content is the opposite – it is short form, highly visual (images and videos) and designed to evoke an emotional response and connect with audiences.


SEO content attracts audiences with a particular need or question that they want to find an answer for. These audiences are not particularly likely to connect emotionally with the SEO content they find, or to share it with others. If they find the content useful, however, they are quite likely to make a purchase. Social media audiences are looking for emotional engagement, distraction, community and inspiration. They do not have a particular search intent when they are browsing social media apps and are not likely to make a purchase – but they will share content, spread awareness, receive brand messaging and join brand communities.


SEO targets customers based on what they are thinking. SEO website traffic will be directly related to the content’s keywords, which means that the reach is limited to whoever is searching for the targeted query (because of this specific nature, SEO content rarely goes ‘viral’). Common SEO objectives are to increase traffic and conversions, decrease bounce rate, strengthen brand authority and improve Google positioning. Social media targets people based on who they are, and the objectives are often to develop brand awareness, increase market share, establish brand authority and connect with customers.

SEO and SM Marketing Often Work Together

Although SEO and SM marketing are different marketing tactics, they can be used together to improve a brand’s online presence and success. When a brand posts an SEO article, the content can be promoted on social media so that it is more likely to attract visitors. Similarly, high-ranking SEO content is likely to attract browsers that will then go on to follow a brand’s social media platforms and engage further with their content. Neither SEO nor SM marketing is superior – these approaches to brand marketing can be used in a complementary way to achieve all sorts of objectives, and to meet an audience’s need for both information and connection.



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