SEO vs Facebook Ads: 4 Compelling Reasons Why SEO Triumphs Over Social Media Ads

By: | December 6, 2023 | Tags: , |
SEO vs Facebook Ads

Welcome to the digital showdown: SEO vs Facebook Ads.

You are here to explore the ultimate clash of the titans in the digital realm: SEO vs Facebook Ads.

In the vast landscape of online visibility, these two heavyweights go head-to-head, each claiming its stake in the success of your digital presence.

Today, we embark on a journey to unravel the intricacies of “SEO vs Facebook Ads” and find the golden thread that will lead you to the pinnacle of online triumph.

So, fasten your seatbelts as we dive into the heart of this digital duel, deciphering which strategy will reign supreme for your online kingdom.

In the vast realm of online visibility, choosing the right strategy is similar to picking the perfect weapon for battle.

By reading this post, you will read a first-hand account showing why, when it comes to SEO vs Facebook ads, SEO wins every time.

Today, we’re diving headfirst into the age-old debate, dissecting the strengths and weaknesses of both strategies.

Which road holds the key to your online success?

Let’s break it down.

SEO VS Facebook Ads: Why SEO is Better Than Facebook Ads for Salons, Spas and Barber Shops

We were hired to help a multi-location spa with Facebook and Instagram ads. Spa owner, Melissa, had been paying a non-industry ad specialist to create, execute and manage ads to increase new client acquisition. When it came to SEO vs Facebook ads, I knew almost immediately I would need to teach Melissa why SEO is better than Facebook ads for salons, spas and barber shops.

While the Facebook ads didn’t necessarily translate the Spa’s luxury brand messaging, they were getting the engagement and clicks Melissa wanted. We went in and changed the creative up a bit, tweaked targeting and audience as well as created a better automated template for customer responses. 

While our changes helped the owner save money and get more new spa clients, continuing to pay for social media ads was a never-ending cost that was just not sustainable. 

Hi there, my name is Susan Wos, I own Salonspa Connection and we help salon, spa and barber shop owners reach their potential, online. I chose to share our client’s social media ads story in this blog because I think every business owner who relies on ads for new business needs to know- this is NOT the most cost-efficient way to get more customers.

Gain New Business by Focusing on Your Website

Melissa had a spa website that was virtually invisible. She was not what I would call a marketing or tech-savvy person and did not understand how the cost of social media ads expense was something she could avoid. I saw a HUGE opportunity in SEO for Melissa- the pages, photos and services on her website lacked great spa services information, were not structured correctly, making the spa almost invisible to search engines.

Convincing Melissa to allow us to do SEO was a very difficult proposition. She wanted immediate results, more new clients, every single day, and was completely oblivious to the benefits of doing SEO for her business. 

SEO vs Facebook Ads: Why SEO is Better

People Don’t Read but Google Does

She would tell me “People don’t read anymore, and they won’t read what’s on my website.” While this may be accurate in some cases, I let her know that Google does scan websites and ranks your business based on what they find and how your pages are structured.

I explained to Melissa that people searching for the services she offered were not finding her- this was the biggest missed opportunity for her spa. I needed to make her understand the difference between someone just seeing a Facebook ad for something like a non-surgical facelift vs. searching for the service and finding their website.

Related Reading: Guaranteed Search Engine Rankings

Social Media Ads and Long-Term Conversions

SEM vs Social Media Marketing

When someone sees an ad on social media for your business, it helps to create brand awareness- which is always a good thing. SOMETIMES you hit the right person at the right time with Meta ads. MOST of the time ads just get scrolled through or catch the attention of people who are interested in the moment.

I looked at the conversion rate, messaging to the business through ads and overall success rate. What I found was although our ads resulted in a less than $3 cost per lead, customers were not spending money in the spa.

Ads got a ton of free consultations, overly price-conscious customers, lots of back-and-forth messages, canceled appointments, and overall flaky spa customers. The ads and targeting were not the problem- consumer intent was. 

Analyze Customer Retention for a Better Marketing Strategy

I went step by step with Melissa, explaining the difference between someone seeing an ad vs. someone searching for services they are interested in online. We took a look at customer retention for clients who booked appointments from seeing an ad vs all other new client acquisition methods.

There were a handful of people who found the spa’s lash services for the spa on Google- the word “lashes” was the only service properly structured in a URL and on the services page. What we found was customers who found the spa through search engines had THE highest retention rate of ALL other new client strategies.

The $5,000 per month marketing budget on social media ads for spa services, finally became obvious to Melissa as a waste of money. We changed things up, planned to target men only to sell gift certificates with ads, reduce the spend to $2,500 per month and invest in SEO for the website with the rest of the marketing budget.

Customers Who Find You on Search Engines are 90% More Likely to Do Business with You

Melissa was very frustrated in the first 3 months of SEO. She is a typical small business owner who does not understand the power of search engines and wants results NOW. I convinced her to hang in there and showed her the new client results from just 90 days of SEO.

After 6 months of solid on-page and off-page SEO, nailing down key benefits of the spa’s service results, and creating a stronger brand message, Melissa began to see incredible results. Customer retention and acquisition was up 50% and the spa was finally seeing profits!

The spa was getting much higher quality leads through search engines that weren’t the price-conscious & flaky customers that social media ads produced. New clients actively sought out the spa’s offerings and understood the services they booked online with an excellent FAQ on each service page.

One year after SEO for Melissa’s spa, the customer retention rate grew to 80%. Social media ad spending was reduced to $500 per month and only utilized for brand awareness campaigns and selling gift cards.

Online skincare retail sales went from zero before SEO to $3,000 per month, with no additional effort on the spa’s end. Skincare affiliate programs were added to the website and optimized to sell retail to ANYONE who found their spa.

SEO strategy paid off for Melissa in ways she could never have imagined, as it can for any business with low online visibility.

Related Reading: SEO Toolbar by Moz

SEO vs Facebook Ads: FAQ

Which is better SEO or Facebook ads?

SEO is better. The right Search Engine Optimization strategies can bring you Google traffic for years to come.

Conclusion: SEO vs Facebook Ads

Social media ads can be a great way to grow a business, but they are overall expensive and limiting. Having a great website and focusing on SEO is the best long-term strategy for any business. To test how your business is showing up online, plug in a few words you are hoping to be found for into Google or any other search engine.

If your business isn’t showing up on the first page or the first 3 results in maps, you will benefit from expert SEO. Long term strategy is the way to go when thinking about marketing budgets. Think of SEO as hiring a marketing expert who is working for you, all of the time, for free.

Allow time for SEO to take shape and enjoy the rewards as your online presence grows! Investing today in SEO means you have invested in the long-term growth of your business.

I hope you have found our spa client’s story helpful and understand a bit more about why SEO is better than social media ads for salons, spas and barber shops.

Yours in service,

Susan Wos

Susan Wos Bio

Susan Wos is an entrepreneur, hair stylist, salon industry expert on employment and selling salon businesses and the founder of Salonspa Connection, a platform designed to help salon professionals and owners find the right opportunities so they can have long term, fulfilling careers.

To learn more about Susan, go to

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