I get it. Instagram works for you. You can see the returns instantly. Why put the time and money into SEO, where the results aren’t always so clear? Let’s have a look at social media marketing vs SEO.
Remember when you used to share your every move on Facebook? Throw sheep, poke people and play games with total strangers? Remember when Facebook was dominated by teenagers and those in their early 20s, posting their every whereabouts? Well, we all know that ship has sailed, and so could Instagram. And TikTok. And what ever social media platform comes next.
Social media is constantly changing and evolving, and so too is our relationship to it. But there seems to be a bit of a pattern that I’ve noticed over the past decade and a half. The platform shows up, has some early adopters before becoming mainstream. It becomes mainstream, and businesses see great returns by engaging with customers and potential customers on the platform. Businesses start to put money into paid advertising on the platform and see even more success. Then, all of a sudden, less and less followers start seeing the content posted by businesses, forcing them to spend more on paid advertising just to see the same results they had before. Not only that, but the advertising platform releases more and more features, and a simple image and text ad no longer cuts it, and it becomes more complicated to create engaging ads. Then the algorithm changes again, as it desperately tries to keep people engaged on the platform while bringing in as much $$ as it can from businesses through paid advertising. Then a new social media platform comes along and the early adopters move to the new one, people start spending less and less time on the social channel that you have invested so much time, money and energy into already, and you have to start fresh.
While you’re making hay in that sun shining honeymoon period where everyone loves and is totally addicted to the social channel that you’re dominating on, if you’re failing to give your organic search the attention it needs then this is a massive risk. It’s like taking all your chips and putting them on red 21, instead of spreading some chips out across the board in case 21 stops being your lucky number and you’re left with nothing.
SEO can seem like a big mystical cloud, something you don’t know how much to spend on or what to expect in return for that money. It sounds like wizardry, and something to look at ‘later down the track’, when Instagram stops working for you, but when that day happens, it will be too late.
Social Media vs SEO
I’ll use another analogy here, because I love an analogy. Let’s say you go to the nursery or Bunnings and buy a tomato plant that is already starting to produce some fruit. Amazing, tomatoes within a week, you beaut. But often when you buy those already fruiting plants, they don’t seem to survive as well when we put them in our gardens. They live ok in the pot, but we want to grow a bigger tomato plant, so we try to plant it in the ground. It suffers transplant shock, it doesn’t like the soil in your garden, and that first crop of tomatoes is the last that you get from it. We throw everything at it, try some fertiliser, spray for insects, adjust the PH level, water more, water less. Sometimes you’re lucky and your tomato plant likes your garden, but this isn’t always the case with an already established plant.
Now let’s compare this with buying seeds or raising seedlings that go straight into our garden. Granted, no tomatoes next week. It takes time for the seeds or seedlings to grow, but they’re growing in our own soil and environment, so when they finally do start to fruit they are resilient and will survive past that first fruit and, so long as we keep tending to our little tomato patch, it will continue to bear fruit for many years to come. Social media marketing is that already fruiting tomato plant, and search engine marketing is raising those little seeds or seedlings in your own garden.
That means that SEO takes time to bear fruit. It’s something that you should be looking at the moment that you launch your website. Need some tomatoes next week? By all means, get that already fruiting tomato plant. Go to the supermarket and buy some tomatoes if you need them today. But if you want to stop relying on the supermarket and the nursery to have tomatoes or tomato plants in stock, not to mention the fluctuating price of tomatoes and the inconsistent quality of what is available to buy, then raise your own tomatoes, and by that I mean put some work into your search engine marketing strategy and continue tending to it so that it keeps growing and producing results.
Why is SEO important?
Your SEO is part of your online presence. The way your business shows up in search results is important. While SEO can seem like digital wizardry, there are a lot of things that you can do yourself to improve the way your business shows up in search results. It’s important not only that your business does show up in search results, but also what information shows up. The information you put forward for search engines is the difference between people clicking on your link or not. We’re all over worked, over stimulated and have limited time and attention, so if your search result doesn’t clearly show that this is the right link to click on, it can easily be overlooked. Click fatigue is real, and people aren’t going to waste their time if they can’t see that your website will be what they need.
How can I improve my SEO?
The first place to start is with your existing content. I can guarantee just with your existing website content there will be a lot to work on. Knowing where to start can be the tricky part. Knowing what to pay, who to pay, what you can do yourself and what to expect can be confusing to navigate, and can often lead to SEO falling into the ‘too hard’ basket while you focus on your social presence.
Given the perceived costs or perhaps even the unknown costs, a lot of small businesses fall into the trap of ‘waiting until we have more money’ or ‘seeing if our socials pay off’ before they do a single thing about their SEO. This is a terrible strategy, especially when there are a number of no cost or low cost actions that you can make to improve your SEO starting right now. SEO should be part of your website build. Just as you plan your content: the images, videos, copy, menu, search and structure, you should also be planning your SEO as part of that, but too often people who build their own websites, or who outsource to a web designer and haven’t asked about SEO, get wrapped up in the way the website looks to humans without working on the way it looks to search engines.
Search Engines aren’t humans, so we need to communicate with them differently. Having said that, once your content makes it through the search engine, you also need to make it human friendly so that a human seeing your search result is enticed to click on it. It might sound complicated, but with some sound knowledge, guidance and coaching you could be on your way to improving your search presence all by yourself. If DIY isn’t your thing, I can also help advocate for your business when engaging a third party SEO agency to make sure you’re not overpaying.
So while your business is thriving on Instagram or TikTok, now is the time to future proof your success by investing in your search presence the smart way.