Recently, a potential customer asked me, “Which one should I go for, SEO, PPC or Social?”.

“It depends” – I replied.

Working in online marketing I get asked this question quite a lot. Usually by small business owners with small budgets. The thing is, there is no simple answer to this question, and all I would say: “it depends”.

In an ideal scenario, a client would have a budget big enough to cover all three of these channels. Each of the above – SEO, PPC and Social Media – have their advantages and weaknesses, but they work best when used together.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), from my experience, usually gives the best ROI (return on investment) and although it takes time, the rewards can last a lot longer. Especially things like building your domain authority, which can have a long lasting positive effect on your website performance. It will however require a significant amount of time and resources before you get there.

On the other hand PPC (Pay Per Click) can give you quick presence on the search engines, but getting a ROI on a small budget is often difficult. As you can probably see already, it would make sense to use both SEO and PPC from the start, as PPC could give you almost instant visibility as you are working on your organic rankings. If PPC works, however, It also doesn’t mean that you should abandon it as soon as you rank organically. Often times, it is worthwhile to have both top PPC and organic results. Of course, it still depends on many factors like your competition, budget and ROI.

Social Media has a massive reach – just look at these stats to see how huge it is. There are new players on the market gaining numbers all the time, with Snapchat being a good example right now. It is fair to say that literally billions of people are spending time on Social Media, however more often than not, they are there to look at cute kittens and not there to buy your products. Choosing the right platform is very important if you are to see any ROI, and getting it wrong can result in waste of time and money. Therefore, careful research of your audience, demographics, and the platforms they use is vital.

Of course, this is a very simplified look at things. All three channels, if used correctly, can help you achieve your business objectives. From my experience, people get the best results when using all three; SEO, PPC and Social combined. On most of the accounts I’m working with, the SEO is usually the most important and gives best ROI, followed by PPC and Social. This however may be different for different businesses.

Another very important piece of advice is the proverbial do not keep all your eggs in one basket. This is very important, focusing on just one thing can be risky and will make you dependant.