Differentiating SEO and SEM for Your Online Marketing Strategy
Even if you are new to online marketing, you most likely might have already seen at least one of the terms: SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). The truth is that every business should clearly understand these terms, whether it’s a small, medium or large enterprise.
SEO and SEM fulfil different roles, but are often used interchangeably. These two concepts have their specific uses in online marketing. Effective online marketing means that brands stay visible and relevant to their potential audience, and these two concepts help achieve this.
SEO or SEM
Search engine optimization pertains to all techniques that contribute to increasing the website’s visibility in search engine results, by ranking as high as possible for certain keyword queries. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing ensure every search query gets the most relevant and quality source for the information related to the topic. Naturally, SEO is vulnerable to the dynamic nature of search engines. Search Engines like Google change their algorithm from time to time so that what worked 12 months ago, might have a lesser impact or can be completely irrelevant currently.
Conversely, SEM refers to paid ad alternatives that appear among search engine results. SEM might be also referred to as pay per click (PPC) or paid search. Paid advertising gives you the opportunity to purchase advertising space in a bid to showcase your products and create awareness. Unlike SEO, SEM traffic is targeted and it plays a huge role in directing traffic to a landing or product page.
Different Effects — SEO vs SEM
While SEO is viewed as a subcategory of SEM, one difference is that SEM traffic volume can be steered by the amount you are willing to spend on advertising. SEO, on the other hand, leads to higher ranks through organic means. While this might take a while to yield results, the benefits are enduring.
On the effect side, pages optimized for SEO contain informative and quality content with purposeful keyword placement that help the page rank higher. On the other hand, since SEM ad-based, its purpose is to persuade users to take an action — either buy a product or subscribe for a service, to click a link or to complete a form.
As such, SEM leads to boosted conversion rates and generates quality leads. However, SEM is even more effective with an established SEO strategy. You might be trapped into thinking that since you pay for advertisement and generate direct leads, SEO can be waived aside. This is not the case.
A good SEO strategy makes sure that your website is polished, among other things like:
- Quality content
- Fast loading pages
- Appropriate use of keywords
The above list only makes a SEM campaign more effective.