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Paid Search vs Paid Social: What's Best for Your Business?

Digital Advertising

When it comes to advertising your business in West Palm Beach, you have two choices: paid search and paid social.  

Both can be useful for bringing attention to your business, and even boosting your SEO in West Palm Beach. However, small businesses tend to have a limited advertising budget.  

You can’t just market your products and services everywhere you want. You have to be smart about where to focus your time and money, so you can create winning marketing campaigns despite budget restraints.  

So, should you focus on doing paid social or paid search campaigns?

In this article, we are going to discuss the difference between the two and identify which option will drive the most revenue for your small business.  

What Is Paid Search?

Paid search ads take up the first three slots on search engine results pages (SERPs). These ads appear when users search for queries relevant to keywords you’ve selected.  

Paid search is the opposite of organic search, which is when a business optimizes their website and content for SEO in West Palm Beach to boost their website’s unpaid ranking on SERPs.  

The most common type of paid search ad is PPC (pay per click advertising), also known as SEM (search engine marketing). With PPC, you only pay once someone clicks on your ad.  

What Is Paid Social?

Paid social marketing or advertising is when businesses pay to post ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and many more.  

What's great about social ads is that they look, feel, and function similarly to the format of the content they appear alongside. This makes them appear native or natural on your target audience's social media feeds, which makes them less intrusive.  

What’s the Difference Between Paid Search and Paid Social Ads?

Logo of Google Ads app

Now that you understand what paid search and paid social are, we can now compare them with each other.  

1. Format and Appearance

Although both paid search and paid social are digital advertisements, their format and how they appear to users can differ.  

Paid search ads are text-based ads that appear at the top of the search results page when a user searches for a specific key term or phrase. This means that they look similar to other organic search results, except that there’s a little green box with the word “ad” indicating that this specific listing is paid.  

On the other hand, paid social ads appear on a user’s social media newsfeed. You can choose whether to post pictures, videos, text, or whatever it is that you want your ad to look like.  

They don’t necessarily appear at the top of your target audience’s newsfeed. However, they will see them as they’re scrolling through their feed with the label “sponsored”.  

Besides the label, these ads tend to feel like they’re just regular posts.  

2. Targeting Ability

Both paid social and paid search ads allow you to target specific audiences. But how they implement targeting is completely different.  

With social media ads, you get to target consumers based on their demographics, interests, and other factors. Using these targeting features, you can ensure that your ads appear in front of people who are interested in what you have to offer.  

With paid search ads, you can use both demographics and keywords to target consumers. When you bid for the right keywords or phrases, your ads can show up at the top of the SERPs whenever users search for those words or phrases on Google.  

To identify which keywords or phrases you should use, you need to do your research and figure out the terms your ideal customers input when they search for your products or services online.  

3. Satisfy User Intent

People use search engines and social media for different reasons. This means that paid social and paid search ads satisfy different user intent.  

Users go to Google to find solutions to a problem or know more about a certain topic. Placing ads on the platform will allow you to help consumers find the information they need right away, satisfying their search intent.  

People don't use social media to actively seek solutions to problems. Instead, they go to Instagram or Facebook to see news and updates from their friends, family, celebrities, and brands they follow.  

Placing ads on social media will help consumers feel like they discovered your brand unintentionally. If you successfully pique their interest, they’ll click on your ad, go to your page or account, and learn more about what you have to offer.  

This process feels natural and effortless. When done well, your target audience will be glad they’ve found a solution to their problem that didn’t require them to do much research.

What Is Best for Your Business?

Marketer optimizing social ad for SEO in West Palm Beach

Identifying what’s best for your business will depend on what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, and your overall marketing goals. Let’s take a look at the following factors and assess which option you should go for.  

Brand Awareness

If you’re looking to get your brand in front of more people and build awareness, then paid social ads are the way to go.  

Paid social ads can help you reach a large audience and introduce your products and services to new audiences.  

This is especially true for online businesses that are selling clothes, jewelry, bags, accessories, and other products that consumers don’t realize they want or need.  

Being active on social media and placing ads can help you build your following, which is the first step to putting your brand at the top of their minds and turning prospects into lifelong paying customers.  

If users always see your posts, and customers are happy with your products/services, they will no longer search for other sellers online. If they need something, you’re the first one they’ll go to.  

Once loyalty is built, consumers are more likely to choose you over other businesses.  

When it comes to creating brand awareness, building loyalty, and meeting consumers in the buyer’s journey, you should go for paid social ads.  

Quick Sales

If you want to make sales quickly, then paid search ads are for you.

Search ads allow you to target consumers that are looking for your products and services.  

With the right keywords or phrases, you can put your business in front of users who actually need what you have to offer and are ready to buy.  

However, your competitors will likely be placing their ads on search too. You need to make sure that they choose you over your competitors.  

Here are some best practices that can help optimize your paid search ads conversion rate:

  • Monitor your keyword’s performance. If you have keywords that aren’t performing well, divert their budget to better-performing ones.  
  • Add local keywords and negative keywords to further refine your targeting.  
  • Align your PPC ads’ message with your landing page. You don’t want users to think they landed on the wrong page or that you tricked them into clicking your ad.  
  • Boost your landing page’s loading speed.  
  • Optimize your PPC ads for SEO in West Palm Beach and mobile.  
  • Optimize for voice search.
  • Set your paid search campaigns to include call conversions.  
  • Use special offers to convince people to convert.  
  • Always run A/B tests to see what works best for your target audience.  


If you have a tight budget but need to achieve marketing results, go for paid social ads.  

They tend to have a higher cost-per-click since you’re targeting consumers that are most likely at the top level of the sales funnel.  

However, you can still run effective PPC ads on a budget.  

Before deciding, think about the fact that search ads are associated with a higher cost-per-click because they tend to target customers that are more likely to convert.  

This means that opting for search ads can guarantee a better return on investment compared to social ads.  


If you’re thinking long-term and looking to grow, paid search is your best bet. Paid search ads tend to generate higher conversion rates and better traffic compared to social ads. In fact, Google said that for every $1 you spend on Google AdWords, you can get an average revenue of $2.  

The more revenue you can generate, the more capability you have to scale your ads to new heights and get even more profit.

To Summarize

Business owner deciding between social ads and search ads.

You should go for paid search ads if you have the following goals in mind:

  • You want to see results quickly.  
  • You want to boost your visibility in search engines.  
  • You want to be able to customize your ad spending.  
  • You want to reach out to consumers who are closer to making a purchase.  
  • You want to generate more web traffic.  
  • You want to address your ideal customer's problems right away with your products or services.  
  • You want to answer your target audience’s questions and put your company at the forefront.  
  • You want your ads to show up in front of people who live in West Palm Beach that are searching for your products and services.  

You should opt for paid social if you want to achieve the following:

  • You want to appeal to potential customers and build rapport through engaging ads.  
  • You want your ads to resonate with the needs and wants of your ideal customers.  
  • You want your ads to contain visual elements that will resonate with consumers.  
  • You want to build a connection with your target audience.  
  • You want to reach more people who are similar to your existing target audience.  
  • You want to put your brand at the top of your ideal customers’ minds.  

Have You Decided Which Option Makes the Most Sense for Your Business?

Unsure which ads are right for you?

Often, using a mixture of both is the best way to maximize your revenue and sales and reach a wider audience on both search engines and social media platforms.

As a result, you can boost your online visibility, drive traffic, and generate more conversions for your business. Don’t forget to optimize your website for SEO in West Palm Beach to make sure that you appear for relevant searches even though your campaigns have ended.  

Need help running successful social media and paid search campaigns? Digital Resource can help! Our team of SEO specialists and social media marketing experts will work with you to create a custom digital advertising plan that will generate more revenue for your business and achieve other business goals.  

Contact us today for a free consultation!

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