SEO and Social Media Marketing: Differences and How They Complement Each Other

It should come as no surprise that brands have established a strong foothold in the online world, be it on social media platforms with the help of their SMM (social media marketing) team or famous websites by implementing SEO. They have realised that people nowadays are more aligned with commercial content on the internet than a simple brochure. It’s safe to assume that the sole purpose of businesses creating content is engaging with more people and earning more customers. That is by no means a revelation. But the way brands make their followers engage with their posts, how they make people choose to buy their products because they liked their recent tweets or enjoyed their collaboration with a famous influencer, now that’s got a rather secret formula (not really, it’s basically trial and error followed by hard work).

As you might know, it all comes down to two strategies: SEO (search engine optimisation) and SMM

As a business owner with a website and at the very least a LinkedIn account, you probably know a few things about SEO and social media marketing, so I will skip the boring exposition. And if you don’t, well, why don’t you give this blog a read?

In this blog, we’ll discuss the differences between SEO and social media marketing and how they can complement each other. Without further ado, let’s get started!

SEO and SMM: What Are the Differences?

Let’s get the obvious fact out of the way. SEO is the process of optimising a website for search engines. It involves many different actions like creating backlinks, using keywords, creating good content etc. It’s a long-term process involving many delicate tasks that need constant supervision. You could google seo agencies near me right now to see the range of services SEO companies provide.

On the other hand, SMM (let’s just say social media marketing from now on because it’s good for this blog’s SEO to Fight me) is about presenting your brand and products/services in a way that will attract potential business partners and customers. It involves engaging in active communication with your followers by creating high-quality content, running soft-sell advertisements, analysing your approach etc.

Basically, social media marketing is more focused on creating engaging content than coding and web design and whatnot. It’s more of an analytical and detail-oriented approach. But that’s not to say SEO doesn’t involve those strategies. Let’s just say that SEO works in a more extensive scope than social media marketing. I mean, of course, it does. Social media networks Vs the rest of the internet? You do the math.

Here’s a TL;DR for all my fellow lazy people:

  • SEO is used to optimise a website. SMM is used to optimise social media accounts.
  • SEO increases website traffic while SMM increases brand awareness
  • The tactics used for both are quite different (backlinking Vs social networking, for example)
  • SEO is more technical while SMM is more analytical
  • SEO entails more aspects of optimisation than SMM

How can SEO and Social media Marketing Complement Each Other?

If you imagine the internet as a city (and a huge one at that), the town square where people meet up and socialise represents social media platforms. SEO helps you reach more people in the whole city while social media marketing aims to attract more people to your stand in the town square. If your goal is to be one of the biggest names on the internet, your approach matters based on your online strategies, and your online strategies can very well suit each other. While very different, SEO and social media marketing can complement each other in many ways. But how? Let’s focus on three aspects for now:

  1. Content optimisation
  2. Web Design and responsiveness
  3. Optimising your accounts

Content Optimisation

There are many ways to engage with viewers in the online world. Some businesses create regular content on Instagram. Others prefer to open up a YouTube channel to post educational and promotional videos. Some famous brands even like to make a fun and interesting persona on Twitter. Some might even choose to stick with their websites and create informative articles. Depending on your goals, it’s essential to create content that will generate traffic to all of your online platforms in a reciprocal way.

You must share your content highlights on your social media platforms if you own a website. For instance, most authentic blogging sites share their recent blogs on Twitter, most digital marketing websites would benefit from sharing videos on YouTube, and a lot of companies hold giveaway competitions on Instagram but the results will be shown on their website. All of your online platforms must share a bond that will lead your social media viewers to your website and vice versa. It doesn’t matter if you prioritise SEO or social media marketing; content is still the most important factor (not going to say that phrase, nope. I made a promise).


  • By creating different kinds of content for both your website readers and social media visitors, you can generate more organic traffic.

Mobile Optimisation and Responsiveness

One of the most important aspects of SEO is mobile optimisation, especially for e-commerce stores. If your goal is to generate more traffic on your website and social media platforms, you need to know about the various devices people use to reach you. Let’s say one of your Instagram followers (who uses their cellphone) likes your content and decides to take a look at your website. Now let’s say you didn’t care enough to optimise your web design for mobile screens. You didn’t even care enough to adapt your website to bigger and smaller monitors. All they can see on their cellphone is a sloppy selection of pictures with words melded together. After seeing all that, your follower will probably just unfollow you. You don’t need to be an SEO expert to know that won’t help you get more traffic.

These days, many people use cellphones or computers with different screens. Your social media followers will be just fine since the design and UI of those platforms are done by others, but your website is a different story. Use SEO to boost your social media presence and vice versa.


  • Through optimising your web design for different screen resolutions, you can transfer views from your website to your social media platforms and…I’m using the V word too many times. You get the idea.

Local SEO and Brand Awareness

Another integral part of SEO is optimising your website for local searches. Many local and small businesses would benefit from optimising local SEO. Let’s say I want to find a good dog grooming salon for…well, my dog. I would google the phrase “dog grooming brisbane”. The first three results are location-based, and the rest are organic. Based on the professionality of the location-based results (the way their Google My Business account and social media pages look) and the competency of the other websites, I would know which to choose. This is how SEO and social media marketing both help increase brand awareness. It’s not like specific marketing strategies will magically increase your search visibility and social media followers. SEO and social media marketing are inseparable parts of online marketing. You must learn to implement both of them in order to succeed.


  • Optimising your Google My Business account (SEO) and social media platforms (SMM) can help you look more professional and as a result, gain more customers.


Even though social media marketing might seem a bit inconsequential and cheap compared to SEO, that doesn’t take away from its significance. And while SEO might be more of a high-effort approach in comparison to social media marketing, one must not neglect its importance. A businessman must know that in order to gain a strong footing in the online space, they must utilise these two tactics to the best of their abilities.

My name is Jacob Braun, a writer and a fan of most things online. I write about web design and development, digital and traditional marketing, small businesses, social media-related subjects and most things revolving around the entertainment industry.