SEO vs SEM? Which one should I choose? This is a frequently asked question among professionals and business owners. We are going to break it down for you into three simple sections. In the first section you’ll have the opportunity to get a broad understanding of SEO and why SEO is important. In the second section you’ll get a broad understanding of SEM and why SEM is important. In the last section we’ll compare both SEO and SEM to give you our best practice’s to achieve optimal results.
Section One – What is SEO and why SEO is important for you and your organization
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. What is Search Engine Optimization? Simply put, it’s to “optimize” your web presence for search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. The more your web presence is optimized the easier it is to scan your web blue print by relating your content to searches made by people just like you and me. For example, if you are searching for SEO vs. SEM and this article comes up as one of the first few searches this means we have optimized our content with keywords specifically targeted to your search query of SEO vs. SEM. There is a lot more that SEO entails but our example gives the overall goal of SEO. The research and implementation that goes into your SEO is the key to unlocking a successful SEO…
Today, search algorithms used to match your website ranking and search queries are much more advanced and constantly modified. What are these search algorithms? The exact algorithms are kept as a guarded secret by Search Engine Companies so people do not manipulate the algorithm and take away from the user experience to find reliable searches. On the bright side, search engine companies provide incremental hints as well as updates on their search algorithms. For example, just over a year ago Google openly stated, responsive mobile friendly websites are going to rank better then static, outdated website. More recently Google’s latest update for their search algorithm Possum came out changing search results. Is it time to update your website? If yes, click here. Getting your website to be responsive, can be simple and affordable and it can be a game changer.
Making your website responsive, will give you and your business an improved opportunity in getting more and new organic traffic (consider it as new customers) because your web presence is formatted in the correct method based on algorithms standards. Now, you may be asking, what is organic traffic? Organic traffic is similar to “walk in” traffic for brick and mortar stores and it is the opposite of paid search marketing, which ties into SEM aka Search Engine Marketing or PPC (Pay Per Click). To sum it up, organic searches means getting traffic to your website without paying for visitors (new customers / walk-ins) to come to your website through SEM or PPC. Now, you may be thinking, “well, gee that answers my question. I don’t want to pay for people to come to my website”. Well, you’re now getting the idea of the benefits of SEO. Great! However, there is a downside.
Ugh! A downside!? There’s always a catch. The downside is getting ranked organically higher and higher through organic searches takes time. Some SEO experts say it takes an average of 8 months to see improvements through SEO, but of course it depends on the industry that you are in. The real challenge is what are your competitors doing? If your competitors have been optimizing their website and web presence for months or years well they definitely have a head start in this playing field, but don’t be discouraged, some of your competitors may have just started their SEO efforts or have yet to start! If you need to get started, get your SEO expert here.
You’ve made it this far and you’re already half way there! SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. Search engine marketing is exactly what it sounds like, marketing on Search Engines such as Google, Yahoo & Bing. This is where the term PPC comes into play and it stands for Pay-Per-Click. That’s right! You pay per each click every time someone clicks to view your website content. Sounds simple, right?! Nope, not exactly….Search engine companies have specific criteria to meet when marketing on their search engines. This is where the professional SEM experts come into play.
If you think you can do it yourself that’s great, good luck! We, all, tip our hats off to you for taking the time to learn, however you will more than likely, unintentionally, throw money out the window, we’ve encountered countless stories told to us by new clients stating, “I tried that”, “it doesn’t work”…Then we ask, can we see what you did? Most, if not all the time, they have made critical, first time rookie mistakes. There is nothing wrong with that, again, we applaud you for your efforts and for attempting to keep up with the rapidly changing digital age. After about two months or so, our clients that once said it doesn’t work are now asking us to take an increased budget! Okay, so what are the benefits of SEM? Simple.
SEM uses targeted approaches to help you get the customers that are looking for you and the customers that you want to attract. For example, envision your customer searching for “your business services or products” (this can be anything in the Finance & Insurance, retailers & general merchandising, travel and tourism, jobs and education, home & garden industries or on a smaller scale like local restaurant near me, cheap flights, hotels, local gym memberships, local Pilates etc.) and your business has a specific targeted (demographics, locations, specific keywords) set of ads linked to your website coupled with the right description of your services or products to match your customer’s search. Imagine! This is incredibly ingenious for your marketing and advertising budgets! It’s ingenious because it matches specifically what your customers are looking for. SEM is the key to competing in today’s hyperactive digital marketplace. This is the benefit of SEM and it’s quite an amazing thing to have on your side. However SEM gets much more complicated than our description and that is where our SEM experts step in to do it for you.
Experienced SEM experts use metrics, data points and research to gage for a successful marketing campaign to bring you a positive ROI (return on investment). The upside of SEM, alone, is that your business can have results at a faster rate instead of waiting too long to get results from SEO. The downside to SEM is the costly budget in order to get started. This is the downside to some people, while others do have the resources to get started with SEM.
Finally!! The grand finale! SEM vs SEO. This is where we recap and break down SEM vs. SEO.
SEM brings you results right away. You do not have to wait months or years for SEM to bring you results. SEM is the short game to get things to work at a faster rate. The long term benefit of SEM is, if and when, your customer becomes a repeat customer.
SEO is a long term approach, that will take longer to build but will pay off in the long run because it will let you attain more organic search traffic for free.
I personally recommend using both strategies, at the same time. Combining both into the overall strategy will give you and your organization optimal results. It’s not uncommon to initially pay for new customers to find your web presence. Each one has its pro’s and con’s that need to be weighed with your strategy and your goals. If one of your goals is to get results now / ASAP go with SEM. If you have a vision and want your business to grow in the long run, organically, then go with SEO. If you want results now and want organic results later, incorporate, both SEM & SEO strategies.