Paid Social and SEO: Why You Need Both to Succeed

When looking for digital marketing channels to promote your product, service, or brand, you’re likely looking at the obvious purpose and benefit of each platform. Looking at a very top level, you can see SEO as a long game for better visibility in the search, meaning more clicks, which means more sales. PPC drives immediate return by getting your ads at the top of the search when people are searching. Social media is great for retargeting and lets you follow users around persuading them to purchase. Etc. Etc. But, what a lot of brands (and poor digital marketers) don’t do, is look at how all these services can work together to achieve the ultimate goal e.g. increased sales.

This holistic approach to digital marketing is something that we’re extremely invested in at Embryo, and rather than siloing your services and approach, we strive to show a combined benefit of the channels. A pair that usually don’t get the most airtime as a power duo are Paid Social and SEO. Your usual couplings are SEO and Digital PR, PPC and Paid Social. But, today we’re going to be looking at why you need to be utilising both of these to their full extent to see real success.

People Don’t Just Use Search Engines to Search

It’s in the name – search engines – but, we live in an ever-evolving digital world where people are constantly finding new ways to do things. That being said younger generations, those between 16 and 24, are now using social media platforms as their primary search tool.

What does that mean for your SEO that you’ve heavily invested in for the past 5 years and take pride in your position one rankings? It means that you’re doing really well, but you’re also missing a huge chunk of your audience that aren’t searching on Google or Bing. It’s all well and good seeing amazing performance from your SEO and content efforts, but 53.2% of people under 24 wouldn’t even use search engines for their searching.

If you’re looking for a particularly visual product or service, such as wallpapers or a sofa, it’s highly likely that you’ll browse Instagram or Facebook and look at tagged photos to see the products in ‘real life’. The same applies to restaurants, bars, fashion, joinery, gardeners etc. If your social media platforms aren’t perfectly optimised to capture and engage those high-intent searches, the likelihood is that they’ll drop off. And, not just that, if you’re not running paid social ads, there’s a very high chance that your competitors are. By not competing in that space, you’re allowing your competitors to monopolise the space and take your traffic.


Successfully running paid social campaigns alone is great for reaching new customers, as is successfully running SEO campaigns, but, if you combine both, you’ll be able to capture your audience at all angles.


One of the most interesting aspects of utilising SEO and Paid Social together is actually the differences in the channels at a very fundamental level.

SEO: Get in front of people actively searching for you, your product or service

Paid Social: Get in front of people before they are actively searching or aware of you, your product or service

At a very basic level, the differences between the two channels mean that by combining them, you can create an incredible multi-touchpoint customer journey.

Now, I know that user journeys are never this simple, but think about the following …

You get served a Facebook ad by a company that shows you really nice looking premium leather jacket. Despite not really needing a new jacket, you’re now interested, so you do a google search for ‘premium leather jackets’. You see loads of other brands come up, but not the original brand that you saw the ad from. You’re not really bothered, as you’ve landed on another brand’s site and you’ve decided to purchase their jacket, even though you didn’t need a new leather jacket an hour ago.

This is a Paid Social only customer journey.

Now think about this …

You get served a Facebook ad by a company that shows you really nice looking premium leather jacket. Despite not really needing a new jacket, you’re now interested, so you do a google search for ‘premium leather jackets’. You see loads of other brands come up, but the company that you’d just seen on Facebook appears. You’re a bit more familiar with that brand, so you browse their site and make a purchase.

This is utilising Paid Social and SEO to capture users with no previous intent. If the paid social ads weren’t effective, you wouldn’t capture the traffic in the first place. If the SEO wasn’t ranking high enough for the main keywords, you wouldn’t convert the search.

The two channels together can be a goldmine for those no-initial intent audiences.


Use Paid Social to Retarget Your SEO Traffic

Not only your no-initial intent audiences, but one of the key capabilities of the Paid Social world is the ability to retarget pretty much anyone.

We’ve pulled out two standout instances where the retargeting capabilities of Paid Social work harmoniously with SEO, however, there are likely many, many more.

Using Long-Form Content to Capture Low-Intent Audiences

Not speaking for all clients, but it can sometimes be a bit of a battle to get them on board with long-form content pieces. Usually, we have to explain its impact on organic rankings and SEO as a whole. However, paid social ads can be extremely effective at retargeting specific pages with specific content.

For example, if you’re searching for top tips for owning a whippet puppy, you may land on a beautifully written, high ranking, long-form piece of content that takes you through all the key things that you need to know. Within that article, they also mention how unique their body shapes are, so you’ll ideally need whippet-specific coats and jumpers. Coincidentally, this website also sells whippet coats and jumpers! You think “oh yeah, that’s a good point” and then exit the site with the aim of searching another time for whippet clothing.

That’s usually where the SEO customer journey ends unless they return to the site and decide to look around.

However, with paid social advertising we can target all those who have visited that Top Tips for Owning a Whippet Puppy page in the past 30 days and show them, you guessed it, whippet coats and jumpers! The user could then see this, revisit the website with more intent and continue to browse and hopefully make a purchase.

Paid social may claim the conversion here, but it’s the original content piece and SEO that has done all the hard work.

Using Paid Social to Capture High-Intent SEO Drop Off

A complete reverse to the above, but SEO is amazing at capturing really high-intent traffic that is actively searching for a specific product or service. But, that doesn’t mean it is guaranteed to convert all of that traffic.

Someone could search for a specific model of iPhone, land on your website because you’re killing the organic rankings and go to make a purchase … but then decide to shop around and see if they can get a better deal. There is nothing that you can do from an SEO perspective to bring them back. However, with Paid Social Advertising, you can run abandoned basket campaigns that target that person specifically across multiple websites and apps, perhaps giving them a 10% off discount code if they order today, or another added incentive to purchase. This could be the final push to convert them.

SEO and Paid Social Should be the New Dream Team

There are so many ways that SEO and Paid Social can work together to drive results, but I would be here forever if I named them all. Hopefully, now you can understand why they should work together and are complementary because of how different they are, not in spite of it.

So many brands exist and succeed in their marketing because they utilise one of these channels, and that is completely fine! But, to really succeed and stand out from the crowd, you need to be using both effectively to cover all the bases.


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