#14 Facebook Vs SEO: Which One Should You Start With?

What you will learn

  • The Pros & Cons of SEO vs Facebook Ads
  • Our recommended plan of action to mix SEO and Facebook ads to grow your site faster.

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads is the new kid in the block. Mark and I are using these more and more to grow audiences fast and reach people for cheap. Here are the pros & cons of using Facebook ads first:


  • Immediate results
  • Incredible precise targeting
  • Cost as low as $0.01 click


  • You still pay for most clicks and when you stop paying, traffic stops
  • The prices will steadily increase


SEO (search engine optimisation) is where Mark and I come from. It is still by far our #1 source of traffic and we’ve learned to love it and hate it.


  • Cheapest form of traffic if done correctly ($35 articles get us up to 500,000 visits)
  • Your visitors come in with a goal in mind > easier to sell them on a solution.
  • There is a LOT of traffic available
  • Your efforts compound over time


  • Most of the time it is very competitive
  • It takes a long time before you get results
  • It is a lot of work to put in place (content, link building etc)
  • You don’t chose the traffic you get (many countries)

Recommended plan of action​

  1. Build a paleo page up to 2000 likes with ads ($100)
  2. Regularly post highly engaging images, videos and articles on that page
  3. Boost the posts that get the most engagement to a lookalike audience of your fans/site visitors with interest in paleo.
  4. Offer post trades to other paleo pages to grow your fan count for free
  5. Offer paleo authorities to guest post on your site and show them your large Facebook reach to convince them.
  6. Start creating big content / keyword focus content and use your relationships with the other pages/authorities to get links to it.
  7. Offer smaller sites promoted posts on your Facebook page for links to your content (trade)
  8. Retarget your site visitors and facebook fans with a lead magnet offer to grow your email list
  9. Pitch paleo products to your email subscribers

Full Transcript

Welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast, the place to learn field tested, no BS tactics to grow hack your online business and finally, live life on your own terms. Now, your hosts, Gael and Mark.

Gael: Hey guys, welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast. As usual, I have Mark with me today, how is it going Mark?

Mark: Excellent, thanks.

Gael: Well, that is different- in the previous podcast we recorded I told Mark that he always had the same hello, but anyway, today’s episode is about Facebook Ads versus SEO. And I know that is a debate that a lot of people are having, because when it comes to getting cheap targeted traffic, Facebook and SEO are essentially the best of available options. I mean, on one hand, SEO is great because when you rank for keywords that people are looking for, what they are looking for and therefore it’s easy to put a solution in front of them, and sell to them. On the other hand, on Facebook, there are so many crazy targeting options available, that it is pretty easy to figure out what people are going to be into, especially when you can target by interest, so in our case when we target people who like juicing, well we guess that we are going to be able to sell them out juicing ebook, and that’s why it’s pretty interesting to think about both. Another thing that is interesting to think about is that Facebook traffic is very cheap when you know how to do it and actually Facebook now sends around 25% of all web traffic online which is quite crazy and there are a lot of people who are just dropping SEO now because Facebook ads are so affordable, you can get clicks for one cent even when you have a really good campaign, and at the same time you get results much faster than with SEO, you are talking 2, 3 days versus 2, 3 months.

Mark: Hours in some case.

Gael: Yeah, I mean, if your campaign works it kind of take 2 or 3 days. But SEO, in a 2 or 3 months is actually a pretty good time if you get your results in 2 or 3 months it’s pretty good, but sometimes it takes 6 or 12 months for you to get results, so it is much longer and for us, we actually come from SEO background, both of our sites get most of that traffic from SEO but we are spending more and more money on Facebook ads because it is a very interesting source of traffic so I wanted to talk about how they compare how they are different in this podcast and at the end we are actually going to give you a plan of action that we would follow if we would launch a new site today, doing ok at both traffic sources but we are still better at SEO I would say. So, do you want to do the SEO pros and cons Mark?

Mark: Sure. So, sort of to be clear, we are not talking about Facebook versus SEO, we are talking more about Facebook ads, not the sort of like organic Facebook site. So, the two options to acquire traffic being published content on your site, keyword targeted, built links to your site, build authority and then, rank in Google search results for terms that you target and some maybe you don’t, as well, and get traffic that way. So, that is kind of where we came from originally as like the point of 4, 5 years ago our learning like kind of came from this area-

Gael: There was no Facebook ads back then, right?

Mark: Yeah, yeah, exactly, this was like 2010 when we started. When did Facebook ads come out actually, that is a good question.

Gael: I think like 2 or 3 years ago, 4 years ago maybe, but the targeting was not nearly as good as it is today, I mean you could just target some country and stuff initially and then just refine and refine and refine and so now it is so powerful because you can target the right people.

Mark: So from the SEO point of view, the pros are that if you don’t have any money to spend, then I guess it is your only option really, if you don’t have any money to spend, but if you really don’t want to spend much money, it can be cheaper, in the sense that and if you do it correctly of course, in the sense that you can buy like, you can pay writers to write a few articles, for like $30 or something, and these can if done correctly, and if targeted correctly and if all the other components-

Gael: With a little bit of luck too I guess.

Mark: You are right, with a lot of luck in some cases you can get millions of visits in some cases, I think there is one article that we paid $35 for and it actually got us half a million visitors. So you can’t get anywhere close to that with Facebook ads or any kind of paid traffic, but for every article that gets that results, how many are there that we paid $35 for 200 visits.

Gael: I remember this being a big focus of us, last year I tried to figure out how to get more hits for every ten articles published or a hundred articles published, and that’s really the game with SEO, it’s like you get one that works and you get 7 or 8 that do not work and you need to count the cost of all of them to count your cost I guess.

Mark: Yeah. So, what is worth pointing out as well is the sort of potential upside of it or the potential win SEO can kind of like compound over time so once you get an article ranking and bringing in 20,000 visitors a month, ok it might slowly erode unless you keep updating it or you keep it on top but it will keep bringing in the same or close to the same amount of traffic month after month after month with no or very little extra work and all this while in the future month you are doing more SEO putting more content out there targeting more keywords, and so you really can compound the level of traffic you are getting, quite significantly. And you see a lot in some of these graphs, there is Google analytics graphs that we share sometimes. Sometimes you will have a month for your traffic and like literally double and it’s such a great feeling to do that and you are not spending any more money-

Gael: You are investing the same resources and the resources you have invested previously keep working for you.

Mark: Exactly. So it’s kind of like compounded interest in that way. The other thing is there is just like a lot of traffic available I mean-

Gael: It’s probably the biggest source of traffic out there.

Mark: Oh, by far, yeah.

Gael: Organic search gets the most clicks and search delivers the most traffic and so it is- and there are so many keywords and it’s impossible to run out of keywords for your niche or anything so yeah…

Mark: Yeah, and people are always going to want to find information, it doesn’t matter how many algorithms you create to put information that you think people want to see in front of them, you are always going to be- I mean, how many times a day do you use Google? Like dozens, and I think what’s the average number of searches a day like the average person?

Gael: I have no idea.

Mark: 6 or 10 or something like that, per day, the use of Google. Every single day.

Gael: And people our age probably use it like 5 or 6 times more. It’s just like I would imagine people that are like under 30 or something that use Google way more than the average of the population.

Mark: Yeah, and the other thing is like when you are targeting a specific search result you can tell a lot about the intention behind that, now if you compare this to Facebook ads, there is no intention, you just targeting them by their demographic, by like statistics about people and things they are interested in, and how old they are, these kinds of things, but if someone is searching for like “how to get rid of back acne” you could be pretty sure that they are looking for how to get rid of back acne, right.

Gael: They are looking for it right now, that’s important.

Mark: Exactly and you can give them a solution to that and you can sell them products on that or you can affiliate products on that whatever, but it’s a very targeted thing, and you can give them the exact answer they need, so as opposed to with Facebook ads, you will be targeting ok, who are the people who need to get rid of back acnes, tends to be this demographic and they like these pages, ok, great but there is going to be a lot of people in there that do not really want to, or don’t have that problem, and there is also going to be people who don’t really want to solve that problem right now, so both those things are worth considering.

Gael: In terms of like targeting, I would say Facebook is more for interest so like if you are interested in paintball, then it’s easy to target people who like paintball on Facebook but it’s hard to target people who want to solve their back acne problem right now. And, on the other hand, it’s easy to target people who have a problem right now with Google but it’s hard to target people, I mean, with the general interest you just need to pull things out of content-

Mark: I would disagree with that, because ok, let’s say you want to target someone with paintball, that’s great but you want to sell them a paintball gun, but what if they don’t need a paintball gun right now? How do you know they need a paintball gun right now, you can’t.

Gael: It’s more about building the community on the Facebook I would say. It’s like building your email list essentially.

Mark: Yeah. So, like there is a fundamental kind of difference- you are right like interest based versus goal based, that’s like the fundamental difference between the two types and SEO does target achieving the goal quickly, like that kind of traffic, so-

Gael: It’s faster to monetize, it’s faster to make money out of that traffic.

Mark: Yeah, in many cases. In Facebook you can monetize very quickly and you can have great results, in some cases but- on the whole, yes. In terms of like some of the cons though of SEO traffic is I mean, everyone here probably knows this one straight away but it’s difficult and it can be quite competitive, like most of the high competition keywords online that are very monetizable and worth a lot of money, you have insane competition for it.

Gael: Yeah, companies spend like tens of thousands a month for like a single keyword, because it’s worth so much money.

Mark: And you have to contend with like the big company spending a lot of money, you have to contend with a lot of black haters doing all the crazy automated link building and negative SEO and all this kind of stuff, you have to contend with them. And that’s because it’s worth it, it’s worth a lot of money if you are number one for a good term, you make in some cases millions a month off of that. So, yeah, it’s very competitive, it also takes a long time usually to achieve, not always but usually. This depends on number of factors one of which is your website and your domain. Now, if you are interested in building an authority site, part of that is you are thinking long term about this and you are thinking that this is a business built to last so that down the line even if you are not doing any SEO now, you are going to be in a pretty strong position to be able to do it, and be quite effective with it, at some point. There is that to consider as well.

The other thing is there is even though it takes a long time, there is like a distance between when you put in the effort and when you see the results. So you can be working your ass off for 6 months and not see any results and then suddenly, a year later, it all starts to come into place and you see the results and that can be very difficult to deal with mentally, especially if you are spending a lot of money on content and a lot of your own time writing or your own time doing the promotion or something like that. If you are putting in all the effort now, then it can be quite disheartening when you don’t see the results, or you don’t see the results in some kind of like timely manner.

Gael: Yeah, and it’s just like it’s very hard to manage your time as well, because things just start ranking/not ranking, etc, and you kind of like, we focus your energy on what to work in right now while trying to grow your site at the time, you end up multitasking a lot and changing focus a lot which is a bit of a mess, as opposed to like PPC where you know when you turn things on and turn things off.

Mark: Yeah. The other thing I noticed a lot is that when people are searching for the solution for a problem, as soon as they find that solution, a lot of people when they find that solution, they will, ok, done, I’ve found the solution and I don’t really care about the person that gave it to me, and this kind of goes back to what we were saying about the interest based versus the solution based kind of search mentality, where SEO versus something like Facebook ads so when people find- if you are providing people with an answer or a solution in your blog post which is ranking for a specific term they find that solution and then they just close the tab, like they don’t really care about your site.

Gael: It’s hard to engage them, right, you can try with your pop up, but it’s still a small percentage of them.

Mark: Yeah, this is why I like pop ups, we go on about them so much and we use them so much because they are really good way to capture the interest of these people. SO the other thing is, it’s quite difficult to get all the cogs moving, and all the cogs moving in alignment to get your SEO going, so you do need a lot of different things to happen, you need very good content, you need link building, the structure of your site and overall site health needs to be-

Gael: You need to build the domain authority basically.

Mark: And all of these things, working in sort of synchronous-

Gael: Symbiosis or something.

Mark: I am forgetting English these days. All of these things working together basically need to happen so it can be a bit difficult and also take a lot of time of your own effort, even if you are outsourcing it to people you need to oversee them, and-

Gael: It’s all management, it’s all heavy processes to run, it’s hard to do as a one man band, because think about it- creating the content then promoting it, then creating more content, than promoting it, then working on general outreach, then working on all these things, it’s very hard to like scale up as a one man band, so you just end up managing a team either if you have like a content writers or you have people who promote your content, or both, it just ends up being a lot of management basically.

Mark: Yeah, and to be fair, once you get it going, it’s good and it can be quite nice, but there is always the danger that becomes a bit stale and your content can start to become a bit boring, and we actually did a whole podcast on this topic of this, “Is SEO making your content boring”. So check that one as well if that’s a worry you have.

Gael: Yeah, that is basically- and SEO overall is just hard to put out together, and by the way the content about is SEO making your content boring is the podcast number 8 so go on authorityhacker.com/8 and you will be able to check that podcast out. And yeah, it’s like overall this SEO stuff, it’s just hard to put together it takes a long time, but if you actually make it work, this is the cheapest traffic you can get, no PPC will ever beat the amount of traffic you get from SEO.

And one thing I would like to add as well is SEO odes get a lot of traffic but you don’t choose the traffic you get, right and you can kind of target keywords obviously, but you are going to get traffic from all over the world usually when you target a keyword, so say you are ranking for these “how to get rid of back acne” for example, so great occasion for you to sell some cream, sell some services and so on, but most of the time either shops if you are delivering yourself or if you are promoting someone else’s product will not offer that thing everywhere in the world, they will just offer it in the US or just offer it in US and UK and that kind of stuff, and you are going to have traffic from a lot of countries around the world. And so, you won’t be able to monetize a lot of that traffic and that is what I find a little bit frustrating with SEO. It’s even though you can target the countries you want to target with web masters tool, it is actually- there is going to be a sizable part of your traffic that you won’t be able to monetize. And, that basically doesn’t count. It just won’t make you money unless you have like AdSense or advertising. Which is a bit annoying. But, I want to talk about the Facebook ads pros and cons as well, to kind of like compare it with SEO and then I am going to give you a plan to follow if I launched a new interest based site.

So let’s just talk about the Facebook ads pros and cons first. What I really like about Facebook ads and that really keeps me spending money on it is I get immediate results, it’s like I have a question like would this work, and then I can spend 20 minutes and I use a tool called 17:19 to create the graphics and then launch the ad and usually like half a day later I start seeing traffic coming through, I start seeing how much a click costs, I start seeing if we get any conversion and that kind of stuff, that to me is very excited to know that literally I can spend a week and I could launch 7 different campaigns or businesses and if one works at the end of the week I know I have something that’s solid, whereas with SEO it’s like well, you launch something this week and then 3 to 6 months later, you might have an idea of what you might be successful at.

So, it’s almost like I start seeing Facebook ads like a way to bootstrap and start and test and then if something works, then you can actually scale up your traffic. It’s slow but when you have something working already it is pretty cool especially if you have a product to sell already or an affiliate offer, you test with your Facebook ads, you see if you convert anything and then you are like, “Ok, what kind of keywords can I target, to get the same kind of people?” And then you can pacify this traffic and stop paying for it. And that is pretty cool, the cold immediate result of it. One thing that I really love as well is the way you can target people who actually interact with your website and I am going to talk a little bit about that in the site plan but the way you can re-target people, so you can target people who have been on your website and show them ads, so for example if you guys go on Authority Hacker, and do not download lead magnet, and you are not on our email list, there is chances you see ads following you on Facebook.

Then there is something called look alike audiences which allows Facebook to identify people who are kind of similar in terms of demographics to the people who visit your site or convert it or buy your products. And so, you can actually advertize in front of people that are more likely to take the action you want them to take, whether it’s subscribing to an email list or buying your product or whatever, you base your lookalike audience on and if you cross that with things like interest which is people interested in something, online marketing, juicing or whatever, for us, then you can actually get an amazing targeting, you get in front of just the right people, you waste very little money on marketing to people that wouldn’t have been interested in what you are doing which is why advertising has been legendary expensive before it’s because the targeting was so poor but we are reaching a level of targeting these days that is absolutely insane and I am really looking forward to what is coming up. Another thing I really like about Facebook ads is it’s actually much cheaper than AdWords. And AdWords used to be the one thing you could use for advertising online that most people knew about, but a click on AdWords can be quite expensive, I mean you are talking like 15 cents to like several dollars, no problem. And so, getting a 1000 visits from AdWords could cost several thousand dollars very often, whereas on Facebook you can actually, if you actually make an ad that people resonate with and click through a lot and like and share etc, you can get clicks for as low as one cent. It’s pretty rare to get 1 cent these days, but even for like email list building, I think our numbers are in online marketing in the US are like $1, $1.5 so it’s definitely affordable and it’s realistic to think that you are going to be able to make your money back even as a small business without a big infrastructure or something.

On the con side, well unlike SEO, you are going to pay for pretty much every click and that means that people sharing your ad when they like it actually get free traffic. So you do get some free traffic from Facebook as soon as you pay it just stops, right, you don’t get any more traffic and if you are actually relying on the Facebook traffic to make sales to make money, it feels like a tax right, a lot of people do make a lot of money with Facebook ads, I know a lot of people that make 6 figures a month but the truth is, they are also spending 6 figures getting their traffic and if you actually look at the profit margins, it gets a lot closer to what we get with SEO and SEO is definitely up there with Facebook ads in terms of profitability.

Mark: Yeah, this is a huge thing actually, like a lot of people will tell you they have a 6 figure a month business but they will neglect to tell you that they spend very high 5 figures of that in Facebook ads to achieve that, so, I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are some people that make an absolute killing out of this, but just be careful about what you interpret and what people say to you in that regard.

Gael: I mean, I would say usually like the people usually spend the 2/3 of their income into ads to get the traffic and 1/3 of the income is the actual revenue. Obviously, it widely depends on based on how good the campaigns are and what people sell and stuff but people that do that at scale not just a few hundred dollars a day, but like even like thousands of dollars a day, usually have seen a lot of people being around the 30% profit margin. But yeah, so you have to pay that and it’s a huge tax and one thing as well to say is that prices will increase. Right now we are kind of in that golden age of Facebook ads the same way there was a golden age for AdWords, for a long time you could buy AdWords clicks for like 5 cents and you could literally rank in Google for very profitable keywords, for a couple of bucks a day and I am extremely mad that I didn’t know all of that back then because it must a=have been so easy to make money and I feel that at some point we are going to look back at this period right now, and we are going to think the same, we are going to be like, “Oh my God, there was this Facebook golden age, we should have taken advantage of that because now it’s so expensive to get the exact same thing and people still make money so it must have been really easy to make money back then.” And I really believe it is, it’s just something we need to work on. So, prices will increase a lot on Facebook, it is in the next few years or it’s going to be much more difficult to make a lot of money.

I promised you at the beginning of the episode that I would give you an example of how to use a mix of like Facebook and SEO to actually build the site these days and I think the real power is in actually mixing both because you can actually build re-targeting audiences for Facebook with your SEO traffic, you can use your SEO traffic to guru your Facebook page and so on, so there is a bunch of things that make these things work actually pretty well together. The example I want to give you is the example of us building a new paleo sites. So, I know there is a bunch of Paleo, I would probably not build the product in this niche, initially at least just because there is so much stuff to sell, and I am pretty sure I could build an autoresponder of like 3 months that promotes offers regularly and probably generates like 1- 5 dollars to something like that post subscriber and my goal would just be to build an email list for a per subscriber that would be lower than my revenue per subscriber.

And so the first thing I would start with, is I would probably build a Facebook page to around 2000 likes with Facebook ads, and Facebook likes are actually very cheap to get, I wouldn’t even worry about getting US people initially, I would just worry about getting people who are into Paleo, and I would target interest in like Malaysia, I would target interest in Europe, these kind of places where the cost per click is much cheaper on Facebook, and I would just build a group of fans that are people that actually are into Paleo. And then on my Facebook page I would start posting high engagement images and I would start actually looking around to find high engaging blog posts on other sites, like the stuff that gets a lot of shares and gets people interested, and I would create these kind of posts on my site, I wouldn’t even worry about SEO initially, I would just create stuff that is very shareable and put a lot of very shareable images on my Facebook page as well.

And then, when something does well on my page, so when something gets a lot of likes, a lot of comments, a lot of shares, organically, without paying anything, then I would take these post and I would expand it and I would boost it, in front of a lookalike audience so of my fans and people who are interested in Paleo in general, because, and I would optimize it for likes, so that would allow me to build my page for a lot less, and that’s how we get like- I actually got one cent fans, the other day by doing that on Health Ambition. So, it’s a pretty cool way to build up your page and Facebook fans are not worth a lot but you can actually promote stuff to them for a lot cheaper, for like 3 or 4 times cheaper to promote stuff in front of your fans than it is to promote them in front of the cold audience. So, one cent fan is worth it and most importantly, you can drive a lot of organic traffic with your Facebook page if you have enough fans. By that time, after boosting I don’t know like 20 or 30 posts, for like $10 or something, because also if you boost a post for less money, it actually gets in front of more fans per dollars so you are better off boosting things for like $5 or $10 rather than putting $100 right away. But by that time, it’s pretty easy to get to 10 or 20 thousand fans and then at that time I would actually reach out to big paleo pages and I would offer them to share some of their content on our page in exchange for them sharing some of our content on their page so that we can get some traffic on our site that we can then re-target and get to like our page and we can also start re-targeting our site traffic with a lead magnet, so we can say, “Hey, you went on our site, you forgot to download our free paleo recipe book,” or like, “Our free breakfast paleo recipe book ,” or whatever lead magnet I would offer for my fans and my visitors and I would still use my pop up etc.

And so I would start like trading with these people etc, and once I keep growing I would probably be around like 10, 30K fans at this point it would grow still a little bit and as I get something that goes viral, I would keep boosting it for like $5, $10. Then, I would email big paleo authorities, and there is a lot of people who have like big sites etc, and I would offer them to guest post on my site and I would be like, “Look, this is all the reach I have, these are all the people that like my page, I can put you in front of all these people and if you write a guest post for me, I’ll actually spend $25 to boost the post and put it in front of all my site visitors all my fans and all the people that visit our site.” So I just offer something really good and so I’ll start having the really big authorities in that niche, post on my site and the reason they will post on my site is because they are going to get reach in front of an audience that could potentially buy their products or subscribe to their site and it’s a good idea for them to do that. But I get some really high quality content on my site and I don’t need to pay very much for it.

And then, as I do that, I am also building relationship with these people so I am becoming a partner with them, I am giving them reach. And so, as I have like 15, 20 of these people, on my contact list, then I would start creating big content, I would start actually investing in SEO and start creating keyword based content but long and epic one, I would hire a designer, I would make some infographics etc, and I would use these people that have guest posted on my site to promote this content, I would be like, “Hey guys, we keep giving you reach, would you mind sharing these content with your audience and we’ll put another $10 on the guest post you have done to promote it to our audience. And so you get some traffic, we get some traffic, everyone wins.” And so, I am going to start getting these big authorities, promote my stuff and one thing I would start doing as well is I would start offering promotion of their stuff, of these authorities, for links actually, I would be like, “Hey, actually you could link to my new resource from this post on your site and I am more than happy to promote your post for a month/ 2 months, if you give me a link there.” So you can actually trade your reach that you have paid for for links and you are not buying links, you are just trading services and so that works pretty well. And then obviously as I said that we would re-target everyone that comes on my site, everyone that likes my page and lookalike audiences of these people with my lead magnet, and I would offer them to subscribe to my email list and then on my email list I would actually sell them paleo related products, and obviously on my website I would have a pop up and I would do all the organic stuff. So, that is basically a way for you to speed up the growth of an authority site and most importantly, to build something of value for everyone in your industry which is a pull of people that are interested in the topic, and offer access to that pull of people in exchange for things that you need to grow your authority sites such as links, such as shares, such as content and that is something that I find Facebook as a really good at and you can literally trade money for these things that are normally hard to buy. What do you think Mark?

Mark: I agree.

Gael: [laugh] All right. Well I guess that was a pretty long episode guys so we are going to wrap it up here, if you have any question about Facebook ads, about SEO, about all that stuff, go on authorityhacker.com/14 and you will find all the show notes you will fins a bullet point list of the tactics I just described because you might be in a car and you want it to write down or something- well, just go on authorityhacker.com/14 and you will find everything you need that comes with this episode. Thank you guys for listening, and we’ll see you guys in the next episode.

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