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SEO, Paid Search, and Paid Social: What’s the Big Deal?

Paid search vs. Paid social vs. SEO

Wondering what the differences are between SEO, Paid Search, and Paid Social? Fahrenheit compares and contrasts the three digital marketing channels and provides tips on how to optimally apply them. 

Fahrenheit has compiled the answers so you can determine your winning strategy when contemplating Paid Search vs. SEO vs. Paid Social. The best marketing tactics will probably be a combination of strategies. It would be counterproductive to compare SEO, Paid Search, and Paid Social to conclude which digital strategy is the best at driving quality traffic to your website. Although these digital marketing channels have vastly different characteristics, all three provide overwhelming potential to support your business goals in distinctive ways. It all comes down to your preference and budget situation.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details of each digital marketing strategy and the best tips on implementation, it’s worth noting the main difference between these three to kick-start this article. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) drives traffic to a website organically, while Paid Search and Paid Social use the mighty dollar to place their advertisements in desired online positions to be seen by target consumers.

You’re probably wondering: okay, so what defines each one, and how can we best utilize them? You’ve come to the right blog post, my friend. We’ll walk you through the differences and critical tips of applying SEO, Paid Search, and Paid Social to help you properly use them for your digital marketing campaign.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is the ongoing practice of increasing the quality and quantity of search engine traffic through the process of organically optimizing your ranking on a given search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing). By producing content on your website that is deemed trustworthy and dependable by search engines and consumers alike you are practicing correct SEO.

 However, keep in mind that achieving a high ranking on search engines through SEO is an open-ended, enduring journey. There is a long history behind modern SEO. Commitment in consistently updating your website with correct, relevant keywords, blog posts, and backlinks has a substantial return on investment. This practice will lead to genuine interest from visitors without having to pay out-of-pocket for Paid Search or Paid Social Campaigns.

 Let’s put search engine optimization into action. Say a consumer is looking for a cozy, knit all-organic sweater for the cold season ahead. She’ll look up on a search engine “comfortable, organic knit sweater.”

 Well, what do you know, you own a company that specializes in organic, fair-trade clothing. This search is your chance to gain this consumer’s attention and win a lead. What steps can you ensure that once that consumer searches for your product, she’ll see you organically ranked?

Commitment in consistently updating your website with correct, relevant keywords, blog posts, and backlinks has a substantial return on investment.

Key Tips in applying seo

1 | Publish Reliable Content


You may be wondering; what makes content SEO friendly? Videos, images, and articles published on your website that provide in-depth information and topics related to your business will drive consumers who are interested in your general product as well as keep them on the website for a more extended period.

For our hypothetical fair-trade clothing company, topics that concentrate on sustainable fashion and fair-trade practices, as well as images and videos showcasing the styling and wear of the product, will increase the trust of consumers’ on your expertise.

However, before publishing any piece of content, remember this crucial tip:


2 | Apply Appropriate Keywords & Search Terms


Reliable, consumer-focused content is all fun and good, but what’s the point of posting it if prospects and returning customers can’t even find it when searched? This gap in opportunity is where SEO comes into play: keywords.

As mentioned in a previous Fahrenheit article, keywords are the literal “key” in driving traffic to your website. Keywords are specific words that are being typed by consumers in the search engine bar, in hopes that when they hit enter, they’ll be bombarded by websites that will hopefully guide them to what they are looking for.

So, make sure you’re applying the same keywords in a piece of content whether on an article, through subtitles in a video, or an alternate text on an image within your website. You can find out which keywords are thriving by using helpful tools such as or  


 3 | Have a Gripping, Informative Link Title and Meta-Description


When it comes to driving traffic to your website, you must have a hook before you can reel the fish in. By hook, I mean an eye-catching link title with a concise meta-description compact with keywords and relevant topics to catch the consumers’ attention. Writing a meta description is vital in ranking in SEO.

 The attention span of an individual is very short, so you have to be quick on your digital feet to pique their interest for a conversion. Getting straight to the point while teasing about more information will drive the onlooker to look deeper into the topic.


 4 | Let’s Say It All Together: Backlinks


How do you make consumers and search engines know that you are a trustworthy, dependable website? By being linked by other reputable sites. Backlinks are an essential indicator of showing a website’s popularity and significance in search engines. The more official websites link to you, the better chance you have at a high ranking.

What is paid search?


So why should Paid Search be a priority? Paid Search grants businesses the opportunity to showcase a product’s advertisement by purchasing a spot on the sponsored section of a search engine results page (SERP). Search engines that provide this opportunity for a Paid Search Campaign are most popularly Bing, Google, and Yahoo.

To get a position in a Search Engine’s sponsored section, a business needs to place a bid on specific keywords that consumers may type into a search bar to find a product similar to your brands.

The more broad or general your selected keywords are, such as “auto insurance,” the higher the cost it is going to be to bid on that keyword; therefore, to be cost-efficient, it’s best to apply keywords that are branded, like “Cruisin’ Cowboy Auto Insurance.” You’ll receive an ad position without having to drain your budget mainly on Paid Search.

Once you bid on keywords and submit your digital advertisements to Google, Bing, or Yahoo, they’ll show up on the first few links of a SERP. Being at the top of a SERP is an advantageous position to be in, for it’s proven through digital marketing research that a SERP visitor’s attention will only focus on the top and left portions of SERP (where sponsored ads are) and drop off once reaching the second portion of a page.

 However, there is a catch. You need to ensure a good quality score on your paid advertisement to gets the bids and position you want on a SERP.   

So, how do you ensure that your Paid Search Advertisement is approved and ranked highly? 

Paid Search vs. SEO

Compared to SEO which relies on organic ranking to drive clicks, Paid Search and Paid Social rely on driving traffic through paying for a particular spot on a platform, whether it’s a search engine or social media interface.


Key Tips in Applying paid search

1 | Use the Right Keywords 

Nothing’s worse than spending time and money on a Paid Search Campaign than to learn you’re targeting the wrong audience. Make sure when creating your advertisement, you’re applying keywords that you would want to bid on for a Paid Search Campaign. Placing these keywords in your title as well as your meta-description will improve the quality score of your digital campaign and put you in a better chance of winning a bid; plus, it will give SERP visitors a better idea of your product thus more likely to click on your link.


2 | Improve Your Landing Page

The consumer experience doesn’t stop when they view and click the ad; you have to make sure that the landing page you link to provides sufficient, accessible information to keep the consumer on the page and make further conversions.

A landing page with a poor design, isn’t relevant to the consumer, is a slow loading page, or has a high bounce rate will not fit well with a search engine’s idea of quality. Checking off the boxes and ensuring that the page is user-friendly will increase your conversions and provide the selected search engine a reason to rank you in their sponsored section.


3 | Relevant Ad Extensions are a Must

The phrase “less is more” is an accurate statement your business can apply when working towards a high-quality score for a SERP ad position.

Some companies may have the mindset of putting in as much ad extensions as possible on their paid advertisements to appear reliable and legitimate to the search engine and consumers, but that may hurt a business more than help a business.

Putting in ad extensions that align well with your goals and are shown to receive the highest clicks will work out better in the long run that inserting extensions that may receive little to no attention at all.

Adding ad extensions just for the sake of appearance could lower your ranking in the end and prevent a search engine from trusting your judgment.

 But, what is the difference between Paid Search and Paid Social?

What is paid social?

Now that we have Paid Search out of the way, let’s focus on Paid Social. Paid Social is a type of paid digital advertising on giant social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Like Paid Search, Paid Social allows a business to bid on ad placement for a specific demographic, age, gender, or interest of topics. However, instead of showing up on the top of a SERP in the sponsored section, the ad will show up on the target audience’s feed or timeline.

Paid Social relies heavily on visual advertisements rather than Paid Search, which relies on text-only. Additionally, Paid Social is best for reaching consumers that don’t know exactly what product they are looking for and may impulsively click on ad once is catches their attention. For Paid Search consumers, they have already been searching for a particular product and are thus searching for the right one to match their needs.



Key Tips in Applying paid social

1 Know Your Target Audience


Paid Social Media Marketing can be a bit tricky because unlike Paid Search Marketing, you can’t apply keywords that reflect your brand’s product to match with a consumer that is looking for your particular product or service on a SERP.

Instead, you are bidding for a demographic or group of people that may be likely interested in your product; thus, fully understanding who your social audience is is the first step in achieving conversions and clicks.

Take a close look at who is interacting the most with your social media platforms, who is already looking through your products or services on your website through data analytics, and how you may be able to define these characteristics to form a buyer’s persona.


2 | Provide a Clear Image and Text to Your Advertisement


 Now that you know your audience and formed a buyer’s persona, it’s time to test out your advertisements. When creating visual ads, it’s essential to be concise, clear, and creative so when the consumer is scrolling through her feed, your advertisement pops out shouting “LOOK AT ME!”

How can this be done? Through quality, engaging images that are high-quality and provide visual elements that attractively show your product or service. Additionally, providing a text that gives a call-to-action will encourage the consumer to engage in the advertisement and click to learn more to possibly convert as a customer.


3 | Design for Desktop and Mobile


 Companies underestimate just how much people resort to using their mobile for everyday tasks compared to desktop. If you’re not designing your advertisements to work for mobile, then you may be losing immense opportunities of gaining customers since you’re stuck in the past of solely desktop usage.

Make sure you’re giving an appropriate text size to see on mobile and desktop, as well as picking softer colors that won’t be too harsh to eyes when viewed on mobile.


4 | Choose the Right Ad Format


 Lastly, but certainly not least, make sure you’re using the correct ad format that will optimize your sales rather than prevent you from being rightly seen. Social media sites like Facebook will pressure you into investing in all types of ad formats, but there are specific ones that will present your advertisement optimally. Consider the type of image and text you’re using and pick a format that will make your ad shine.

Work with us

Fahrenheit is proudly featured as a leading Top Austin SEO Agencies by Design Rush.

Fahrenheit Marketing’s content strategy team specializes in a multitude of digital marketing methods. Check out our Search Engine Optimization, Paid Search, and Paid Digital Social service pages. We would love to see your company’s digital presence flourish. To learn more about our services and how we can help achieve your company’s marketing goals, say hello to our team.

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