You may have heard of words like SEO & SEM thrown around if you are in the digital marketing or content marketing business.
You may have even used them into a conversation without giving a thought of someone asking you to explain further.
SEO & SEM are common marketing terms, but does anyone really know what they refer to?
They both aim to increase a website’s visibility, but let’s clear out it now so that you don’t use these words interchangeably.
One major difference is that SEO is a process of using organic techniques to build credibility for search engines. On the other end, SEM includes paid search tactics.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process that uses various techniques to make a webpage rank higher in search engines results page. The increase in your search ranking will also increase traffic to your site.
In simple terms, it’s like
Great SEO = High Ranking = More Visitors = More customers = More sales.
Google keeps on changing their algorithm, so it is a task to keep up with the best search engine trends. SEO requires patience as it’s a steady process that shows progress with time, unlike some paid SEM tactics.
Components of SEO:
SEO is comprised of three main components:
- Technical SEO: With Technical SEO, the SEO’s first component, you can ensure that search engines can crawl & index your website without any issues. It has nothing to do with the actual content of a website. It deals with settings needed to configure to make the job of search engine crawlers easier.
- On-site SEO: The second component i.e on-site SEO has to deal primarily with the content and other elements found on a page to make it search engine friendly. Its main focus lays in providing search engine crawlers with enough signals making them understand the content’s meaning and context. Search engines look for signals to figure out what a page is all about unlike reading a page as humans do. In this stage, you will deal with website structure, keywords, title optimizations, headings, internal links, image SEO, structured data markup and other techniques that can send the right signals to search engines.
- Off-site SEO: Off-site SEO deals with ways to promote your website or blog so that it can appear at a higher rank on search engine results page. You can also use the term web site promotion since it involves much more methods to promote a website than building links. The number of incoming links i.e. backlinks is another factor to determine the position of a webpage in the results. They are a signal of trust & depend on where the links are originating. If links are coming from well-known & trusted sites, your ranking will be positively impacted.
What is SEM?
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a type of online marketing which involves both organic & paid strategies to optimize a website. SEO can be considered of as one of the components of SEM, but on broader terms, SEM works to drive traffic to your site immediately.
If you are considering a quick boost in website analytics, paid search engine campaigns could be the preferred way to go ahead.
Some paid SEM strategies include:
- PPC (Pay-per-click) listings
- Advertising campaigns designed to reach a target demographic
- Hiring a copywriter to create relevant ad copy by making use of selected keywords for content.
- Managing metrics like impressions, CPL & CTR.
The most popular strategy in SEM is pay-per-click campaigns (PPC). You might have probably come across these ads without even realizing what they are actually for.
PPC is just unique terminology for paid search results. Search engines like Google sell ad placements. These ads will pop up first when someone searches for matching keywords. It’s most likely that they will click on the ad just because that’s the first thing they see. But have you ever wondered what goes past the first page of search results on Google? Each time the ad is clicked, the business pays a fee to the search engine. This type of targeted marketing helps increase your site’s visibility in a shorter time interval.
Rules to Follow for SEO & SEM:
The Dos of SEO:
- Developing a content strategy before writing and posting the content
- Focusing on engaging & high-quality content
- Include links back to your site. Insert links to credible & original sources.
- Research keywords.
- Include a call to action as per your brand relevance.
- Incorporate resized images, videos or GIFs to optimize the page loading time
The Don’ts of SEO:
- Overuse your keywords in a way that negatively affects readability
- Pay for links as they usually don’t add value to your content
- Repeat the same content, using the same titles, meta descriptions for different articles
The Dos of SEM:
- Take advantage of SEM tools
- Analyze your top competitor’s website.
- Know & keep on researching your audience
- Share your content
- Check your quality score & ad relevance
- Give attention to A/B testing to figure out which ad copy is most effective.
The Don’ts of SEM:
- Forget to utilize ad extensions making it easier for customers to interact with your website
- Write content for only one demography. Instead, focus on different content for different demographics
What is more suitable for your business to focus?
Digital marketers are debating with each other as to which tactic is better for bringing in sales. So which one is better? Well, it all depends on the type of industry & budget. Ideally, both natural SEO & a well-structured PPC campaign can give you the best results for your business.
Good long-term SEO is the best approach. The long-term value of the traffic over time will be better if you do the math on what the clicks can cost you if you were buying that traffic instead of getting it for free.
You can either do SEO yourself or can hire an SEO Agency. If you are planning to hire an SEO Agency, then here are 10 things you should consider before hiring an SEO Agency.
If you are launching a new website & need immediate search engine visibility, then it would be a good idea to create a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or search engine advertising campaign. You can reach the first page of search results, since it takes far less time than ranking with SEO.
It would be wise to use PPC campaigns along with search engine optimization as part of a long-term strategy. Even though SEO can take longer to prove & show results, in the long term it will be a far less expensive strategy.
Where Should You Start?
Now that you know the difference between SEO and SEM, the first thing to do is to figure out how to implement SEO and SEM strategies to optimize your website. Think about the questions that your potential clients are asking. Based on which you will have a list of blog topics which can help you to answer people with your content when they ask their questions.
If you already have a website you can start adding fresh content that incorporates keywords, links and calls to action.