Two of the most important factors for any growing online business are SEO and social media marketing. But is one more important than the other? Should you put more time and energy into one and not the other? Which can make a bigger difference on your bottom line?

Let’s explore some of these questions.

SEO Is More Important for Raw Traffic

SEO will get you more website traffic up front than social media will. Though social media is gaining more and more traction every day, they still don’t come close to what a number one ranking can do for your site in terms of raw traffic.

On the other hand, top search rankings are hard to achieve. They can often take months, even years. They take a lot of time investment and often a lot of monetary investment as well.

SEO is a longer-term strategy than social media. You might get more website traffic overall than social media, but it takes more effort and has a randomness factor as well. You don’t know if it’ll actually work.

Social Media is More Important for Reputation

On the other hand, social media is free. It’s easy to manage and doesn’t take months before you see results. That said, you won’t see the same kind of traffic that you’d get from a number one ranking search listing.

Social media has a lot of side benefits that go beyond the raw website traffic stats. Prominent social media figures build a strong reputation in a space, which often increases their conversion rates because of their reputation. Likewise, they’re more likely to get invited to speaking engagements, where many profitable business deals can be made.

The key to good social media marketing is to provide something your users want, consistently. If that’s a weekly how-to video, then make sure you provide that video every week, without fail.

The Real Answer: The Two Are Merging

Most SEO experts agree that search engines are taking many social media factors into account when ranking pages. In other words, instead of just looking at backlinks and PageRank, the search engines now look at your Facebook likes and reposts as well to help determine rankings.

When it comes down to it, the secret to successful SEO and social media are really the same. Provide good content, consistently. It’s what people tend to pass on and it’s what the search engines are looking for.

One may be more or less effective for specific businesses, but if you focus 90% of your efforts on creating a great user experience and 10% on business marketing techniques, you’ll have a great chance of succeeding with both.

Is one more important than the other? “Yes,” in the sense that one may work better than the other for your business in the short term. “No,” in the sense that in the long run, they’re more or less the same.