If you’re trying to market a website, then there’s a good chance that you’ve been told to focus on SEO and SEM. Some people think of these two tactics as being the same thing, but they really are quite different. If you know what the differences are between search engine optimization and search engine marketing, then you’ll have a better idea of how to invest your key business resources.
The Definition of SEO:
SEO is focused on obtaining organic search results from the general public. A website is optimized so that it can be found in key search terms that users plug into sites like Google every day. Being at the top of a search list has proven to be more effective in being found by a potential unknown prospect at any given time.
The Definition of SEM:
SEM is focused on finding the best keywords to use for being found in paid search results. If a search engine user were to put in the term “SEO vs. SEM” and that was your keyword, then your creatives could be potentially displayed at the top of all results and this could generate more brand awareness.
What Do Businesses Gain From SEO and SEM?
Both of these tools have the ability to increase the ROI of a business when they are used effectively. For SEO updates, it is important to have a few specific things in place on a website so that it becomes more friendly to clicks.
1. Valuable content.
Search engines will place websites that have more value above sites that have performed their SEO perfectly. Provide your expertise through your content to find success.
2. Focus on your subject.
If you place specific keywords periodically throughout your site, including in picture uploads and URLs, then you may wind up with organic increases on those results.
3. Visuals matter.
People are more attracted to sites that have images and videos. Search engines also include visuals in search results that can be clicked independently of the traditional results. This gives a business even more potential visibility.
When it comes to SEM, the concept shifts from a “What can I do for you” to a “Here’s how I can help you right now” perspective. You’re paying for the impressions in SEM, which means your creatives must get straight to the point. When done properly, however, it can provide a number of key benefits.
1. Specific needs.
SEM allows a business to target a specific demographic to show how a problem can be specifically solved. This creates a better prospect base that is already interested in the item being advertised when they reach a landing page.
SEM can also help to weed out the visitors to a website who don’t really want to be there. Simple methods, such as naming a price or mentioning specific population demographics, can help to get the right people to the right place.
3. Geographic advantages.
SEM can be used to target specific population groups in specific geographic regions. Instead of broadcasting everything to everyone, a honed, niche message can be sent to people who need to see it.
Search Engine Marketing Can Be Extremely Targeted
SEM is often thought of as a PPC type of investment for a business, but the reality is that any paid marketing qualifies as search engine marketing. If you are paying someone to update your Google Plus profile with meaningful blurbs and updates, that’s really a form of SEM. You can even turn email marketing into SEM by promoting specific keywords that you want to embed into the memory if you wanted to do so.
The #1 mistake that people make today with SEM is that they try to replicate SEO results. If you just targeted the keyword “books,” it can seem exciting to get a population base of 18 million, right? The only problem is that someone looking for science fiction books isn’t going to want to look at romantic books – and vice versa. Being too broad is a money waster and a 99.9% guarantee that you won’t get the results you want.
If you pay for SEO services, some might consider this to be a form of search engine marketing because it is a paid service. It isn’t because of one small detail: SEM paints with specific, targeted strokes. SEO paints with broad strokes that will help to market to the masses.
Does One Hold an Advantage Over the Other?
The advantage of SEO marketing is that you’ve got a short-term job that can pay off with long-term results. With the addition of meaningful links and pillar content, it’s possible to focus on SEO just once a month for an hour or two once the items are posted and experience success. Even if paid services are being used, it’s often a fixed, limited expense.
SEM, on the other hand, must be dictated to a fixed expense. If there are no limits on bids or impressions, then thousands of dollars could be spent every day without any guarantee in results. That means the primary advantage of SEM is in its immediacy. You can get the instant gratification of having a new prospect and the clicker gets the instant gratification of finding something that they want.
The reality is that you can’t really have one without the other. You need SEO to paint the background of your website to the search engines and you need SEM to prove that there is value in what you’ve got. Many will look at SEO first and then include SEM as they can afford to do so, but a simultaneous implementation typically has better results.
Why? It always comes back to value. A freshly updated website with new expertise has more value to the average person. This means it has more value to the search engine. In return, your SEM investments will wind up having a better overall ROI for you.