If you’ve been in the digital marketing realm for long enough, you’ll have heard of these two seemingly innocent acronyms that turn out to actually dominate our entire industry. Indeed, I’m talking about SEO & SEM – or, search engine optimisation and search engine marketing.
Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that these were two peas in the same marketing pod. You’d also be wrong.
How wrong, I can’t quite tell – different people will tell you different things about the intricacies of these terms, but what is certain is that they achieve the same thing for you; increase your search potential on SERPS!
Now that debrief is out of the way, let’s get down to brass taxation.
SEO is the method (or more accurately, methods) in which companies increase the number of organic search results their website gets in an attempt to reach the holy first page of Google’s search engine results page.
SEM is the method whereby companies spend money on pay-per-click (PPC) ads that automatically appear on the top page of the results page. The longer it’s there, the more likely users searching
SEO is a multi-faceted, long-term approach to increasing site traffic and ROI as a result. The main channels used in SEO are as follows:
1. Content SEO
Arguably the most critical ingredient in website SEO optimisation, well-written and informative content is your first and biggest step in achieving better search traffic. This is because it’s also one of the clearest signals to Google’s algorithm that you’re providing the information that its users are searching for (especially if you remember to consider your company’s unique keywords).
2. On-page SEO
Once your eye-catching copy is ready, on-page SEO involves optimising the web page that it exists on in a way that helps the search engine understand the content contextually. Main factors in this are page titles, H1’s and meta-descriptions.
Want to increase your traffic potential without having to worry about what those three last things actually mean? Leave it to Framework Marketing, get in touch here.
3. Technical SEO
Away from the literary chops of the copywriter, the tech wizards of SEO work on ensuring that a site is to up to speed, is friendly for mobile phones, has good crawl-ability for Google’s indexing bots, and is secure from any ne’er-do-wellers.
See also: Digital Marketing Tips – Website Development: The Technicalities
4. Off-page SEO
When both your website and its content is in the best position it can be in for organic search, that’s when the real fun starts. The final step in SEO involves building authority with Google’s algorithm by building links between your website and others. If enough websites link back to yours – specifically, reputable sites – then Google will see this as a sign that yours is one that should be considered for reading amongst its users and will push it further up the results page.
A lot of websites will tell you that one of the most important aspects of SEO in comparison to SEM is that it is free.
And whilst this is technically true in that you’re not paying upfront for your website to be plastered on the front page of Google, try and see SEO as more of a long-term investment of your time and money, and that of the SEO geniuses that you may choose to hire.
(*cough* contact form here *cough*)
There is, however, a much quicker way to reach that front page of Google – if you have the money to spend.
For companies, being on the front page of Google is like riding the best, most exhilarating roller coaster, and to get on it you can do one of two things: stand in a year-long queue for free and improve your business search-ability in the process, or pay the gatekeeper to fast track you straight on it indefinitely.
If you’ve got deep enough pockets, it does sound promising to keep your site at the top of Google but before you whip your credit card out, I should probably mention that there are a few things you should consider before trying into SEM.
GoogleAds is Google’s online advertising service that allows companies to bid for their spot in the paid section of the results page. Google then charges every time your ad gets a click.
You bid for visibility under certain key words and phrases that users are likely to search for, and that you want to be seen first for.
So if you’re a tool supplier, you want all the appropriate keywords and phrases that you think people will search for under your belt.
This is where thorough keyword analysis comes in – to help you understand what words you want people to search for, and what people are already searching for to find you.
It is also helpful to see where your competition is popping up on Google, so take some time to type in various keywords and see if and where they show up so you can try and outbid them in that area.
This will help focus your ad campaign instead of spending blindly and hoping for sales that probably won’t happen. You want to make sure that you are where the people are searching and willing to spend.
Constant tweaking and testing is crucial to successful SEM campaigns which is great because it is an especially flexible thing to work with. If your ads aren’t converting to sales, then you can easily turn them off and adjust where you think is appropriate. You can then be running a more focused campaign within days that is making money for you hand over fist.
This instant refinement is a clear advantage SEM has over SEO, which focuses more on long-term analysis and results that can only be properly understood after a matter of months; and time is not something every business has the fortune of owning.
You might have reached this part of the post with less of a clue about whether SEM or SEO is better to use, but fear not. Like most of these ‘versus’ posts that I post due to their catchy title, the truth lies more in the fact that SEM and SEO work best when they work together.
There’s no denying that if you are to grow your online business, you need to take SEO into account. It’s a surefire way of accumulating traffic potential over your company’s lifespan and this in turn allows your traffic and revenue potential to increase throughout that time too.
But this is a game of patience, and you’re going to have slow weeks, slow months. This is where a boost from well-researched SEM comes in. If you combine the data you’ve found from your targeted ad campaigns with the data you need for future SEO practices, then you’re already off to a better start than most.
An example of this is keyword research. If you know people are searching for certain keywords to find you, then you can double down on those keywords by bidding on them via Google Ads and including them on the content within your site.
Do this consistently and before you know it, you’ll have taken over SERPs within the paid and organic search listings.
For more insight into how to grow your online brand, give us a call sometime on 0844 417 0170 or at firstname.lastname@example.org