What is the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?
The easy way to explain the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is to relate it to two of the main drivers of traditional marketing, public relations (PR) and advertising campaigns.
SEO is similar to an ongoing PR campaign.
You would retain a PR agency to continuously promote your brand in as many possible ways across all media platforms, with SEO it all happens on the Internet.
The primary objectives are to maximize the amount of “free” exposure your brand can get across all media platforms and to build the brand into the industry leader. The ultimate reward is that the media industry recognises your company as the industry leader whenever a media statement or opinions on your industry are required for news purposes.
This will take time and careful brand nurturing but in the long run, this pays off massively in terms of ongoing exposure.
In the case of SEO, the search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing are the media industry. Your goal would be to feature at the top of the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) for all searches relevant to your industry and keywords.
Your goal would be to feature at the top of the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) for all searches relevant to your industry and keywords.
In the same way, Press Releases are disseminated to mainstream media by your PR agency, your SEO agency will create blog posts, articles, white papers, ebooks and other content items that will reside on your website as well as be distributed to worthy industry-related online portals.
In the end, what search engines are looking for are websites that are proven resources and knowledge hubs for searches related to your industry.
Quite simply, if the search engine provides your page in its first-page result pages and finds that their web searchers go to your site and find what they are looking for, this is measured by time spent and click through interaction with your website, they will keep sending people to your site and you can top the organic SEO rankings.
This may take a long time and ongoing dedication, but the benefits are massive and also long-term.
But what happens when you can’t wait?
What if you need prospective clients to interact and transact with your website right now?
There may be 12 000 searches per month right now for your product and you do not feature on the first-page ranking yet. Imagine how much business you are losing and is it going to your competition who are already featuring is the SEO organic ranking or are doing paid search (SEM)?
Imagine how much business you are losing and is it going to your competition who are already featuring is the SEO organic ranking or are doing paid search (SEM)?
Like any other offline advertising campaign, you need to get your product in front of your target market right now!
SEM is just that, based on your targeted keywords, your company offering will be flighted at the top of the SERP’s pages, depending on your keyword bids.
This is the reason that Google is the most powerful advertising platform in the world, you can launch your product and from the outset get amazing results and a positive return on advertising investment for your product.
The web searcher sees your Google Adwords advert and clicks through to your site, you pay only for the click-throughs to your site and not for a number of times your advert gets displayed.
In contrast to traditional media, everything is measurable on the Internet and you can work out exactly how well your campaign is working for you.
For example, you spend R4500 per month on Google Adwords, that’s R150 per day, and every day you get 3 new leads in your inbox, thus 90 leads per month.
You convert 20% of these inquiries into new clients and make R25000 net profit per month after your Adwords expenses.
That is excluding the repeat business and free exposure your adverts flighting gives you without being clicked.
If you spend R4500 and make R25000 in return every month, it is a no-brainer, you can safely rinse and repeat the process for as long as the equation holds true.
Your Internet marketing agency can assist you in predicting the prospective result you can expect by doing a digital shelf space analysis on your products before you start.
Conclusion: In the long term SEO can get you to the top of the search engine ranking pages and your click-throughs are free and right now SEM will provide immediate results until you achieve your SEO objectives and can reduce your SEM budget.
It is a lot more complex than the examples above, as there is a wide variety of different keyword terms your prospective clients may search under.
However, this is in a nutshell how it all fits together.
WHAT IS SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) helps people find your website first when searching for a specific product or service through a search engine.
The beauty of it is that you are connecting with people who have already expressed an interest in what you have to offer.
The strategy begins with:
- Researching and defining a list of keywords or keyphrases that you intend the search engines to associate with your brand’s website
- Optimisation – inserting the keywords and key phrases into the content of your website on the right pages
- Achieving an acceptable “keyword density” for the pages
The final step in SEO involves marketing the website to the Internet in general – to demonstrate to search engines how “popular” the website is to users.
This is also where strong, original content creation comes in. In earlier days, search engines ranked websites in a more “primitive” way than they do today. “Keyword stuffing” was a common practice and many people tried to “game the system” to achieve higher search engine rankings.
Today, more sophisticated crawling by electronic “spiders” or “bots” is the name of the game and the quality of a website’s content counts for more.
Content today needs to be original, newsworthy, authoritative, or entertaining or, best of all, a combination of all four. Good content is now an essential element of SEO.
SEM – or Search Engine Marketing – involves the paid placement of links to drive traffic to your website, through search engine advertising networks such as Google Adwords – or by purchasing space on social media sites like Facebook. Alternatively, you can partner with external websites that are related to your business.
The amount you pay in each case is wholly dependent on the number of clicks your link receives.
Just like SEO, SEM involves keyword research to determine the most powerful words and phrases to use to drive traffic to your website – however, SEM has a much more immediate effect on the number of visits to your site.
Of the two, remember that Search Engine Marketing generates results more quickly while good Search Engine Optimisation is a longer-term investment in gaining leads and therefore sales conversions.