The Need to Knows About SEO vs. SEM
Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are crucial for brands, bloggers, online publications, and businesses with a digital presence. But, they can be confusing topics to understand — especially when we often speak in acronyms about them. More importantly, is there even a difference between the two? The answer is yes, and we’ll explain below!
To start, search engine optimization (SEO) has been known as the process of getting traffic from the free and organic web results on search engines. To add onto that definition, SEO is ever-changing, simply because Google is always adjusting their algorithms. The only constant is that SEO is comprised of two main pillars: on-page and off-page efforts.
On-page SEO encompasses:
- Optimized metadata; page title tag, meta description, heading tags, and image ALT tag, all of which incorporate focus keywords
- Well-written page copy that FLUIDLY incorporates focus keywords
- Simple page URLs
- Social sharing of your content
Off-page SEO encompasses:
- Link building for quality inbound links, also known as backlinks
- Increased traffic to your website from social media shared content
A large part of SEO is creating valuable, high-quality content (blogs) that your target audience will find valuable. Over time, this results in increased organic traffic to your website, and more ORGANIC conversions. All said and done, this is the main focus of a content marketing plan.
Now, let’s dive into understanding search engine marketing (SEM). SEM is strictly earning search visibility through paid advertisements, like on Google. These types of advertisements are commonly known as pay-per-click (PPC) ads or paid search advertisements.
PPC advertising allows you to target your potential demographic through relevant ad copy, keywords, and locations that match their Google search. These ads show up on the search engine results’ pages (above or below organic listings). They give you the opportunity to increase the visibility of your business’s web pages, landing pages, blog articles, and more. Google AdWords is without a doubt the most popular platform for running search engine ads.
Other Forms of SEM:
- Launching ad campaigns with a detailed audience
- Creating ad groups that consist of YOUR primary keyword variations
- Writing relevant ad copy
- Setting (and sticking to) an ad budget
- Monitoring metrics; clicks, impressions, click through rates, and average cost-per-click
The process of running effective paid search ad campaigns is very involved — not only from the launch point, but through key metrics that should be watched and adjusted every month. The aforementioned five activities are extremely important for any beginner to be aware of, and eventually, to master.
Lastly, which is better? The simple answer is that they complement one another extremely well. But, if you’re just going to pick one, SEO is the winner in the long-run. As they say, content is king.