Search optimization has become an important marketing strategy for businesses training to become a recognizable brand. Whether you want people's attention, website traffic, or boost your sales, you have to focus on search optimization. However, it is a difficult strategy to manage on your own. You need to know the difference between SEO and SEM. This will help you understand which marketing strategy will work best for you. According to that, you can decide whether you need SEO services or SEM services for your business.
Both SEO and SEM may sound quite similar, but both strategies have different approaches towards optimization. If you feel both of these terms are interchangeable and unclear about their differences, you might not use the strategies properly to boost your online visibility. Have you been doing exactly that till now? Then you need to change your strategy. However, you need to know about these strategies first. For that, you can continue reading this article. In this article, we will discuss the terms SEM and SEO and also how they are different.
So, here we begin! Since you are here to learn more about the terminology, let's begin from the top.
What is Search Marketing?
The term "search marketing" refers to the technique that gets a brand audience's attention by appearing as top search engine result pages (SERPs). It requires a lot of effort and strategies to gain higher rankings on the SERPs. Higher rankings on the result pages will boost online visibility and website traffic. It is mainly done with two strategies:
SEO: It focuses on organic search results that appear on the result pages.
SEM: It focuses on paid search results that appear on the result pages.
Yes, the main difference between SEO and SEM is that SEO is an organic method and SEM is a paid method of marketing.
Now, let's go deep into the details.
What is SEM?
SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. As mentioned earlier, it is a marketing strategy that focuses on the paid results of SERPs. So, it is often considered as a part of the search marketing strategy. After all, it focuses on improving the online visibility on search engine results. A paid SEM includes setting up ads, optimizing them, and settling the budget for the ad placements. That's why it is often referred to as a paid search or PPC strategy.
Just like a PPC strategy, businesses need to start by conducting keyword research. After that, they need to create ad campaigns with the trendiest keywords as per the business niche. Whenever there will be a search query with those keywords, the customized ads will appear as search results. However, the brand has to pay a charge every time there is a click on the ads.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is one of the most commonly used marketing strategies used across the world. As mentioned earlier, SEO uses organic tactics to boost the online presence on the search results and organic traffic to the websites. Unlike SEM, you don't have to pay a price for placements on SERPs.
There are several other tricks that you can think of using that help search engines recognize a brand and boost its ranking. However, you will obtain a better result with white hat SEO techniques. Within the white hat SEO technique, there are three sub-categories:
- On-Page SEO: SEO that optimizes the website content.
- Technical SEO: SEO that takes care of the non-content part of the website.
- Off-Page SEO: SEO that builds a website’s reputation and authority.
Pros and Cons of SEM and SEO:
Pros of SEM:
Cost Control: While establishing the payment set-up, you can set the budget and set limits on your daily spendings. This will make sure that you spend money when it is needed. However, if you aren’t confident about it, you can think of getting SEM services. SEM experts have the expertise and knowledge to properly control the spending.
Direct Return on Investment: You will find tons of data and statistics regarding paid SEM. While setting the conversion goals, you can link your earnings directly to your ROI. However, it’s better to rely on good SEM services to get the most out of it.
Near-Instant Website Traffic: People enter search queries when they are in absolute need of the service/product. So, if your ad pops up in front of them with the thing they want, you can generate traffic.
Targeting Option: There are several targeting options when you use SEM like location, network targeting, and placement. You can get SEM services and have great control over the audience you target.
Cons of SEM:
Managing Complex Campaigns: SEM ad campaigns are quite complex. It involves a lot of optimization, setting, and targeting strategies. As mentioned earlier, you might manage the ad campaigns alone. So, it’s better to hire some professional help. That’s why you should get good SEM services for your business.
Great Competition: Over a period, the costs involved in the SEM ads increase because of the competition in the search engine. This might not be a good thing for your business.
Pros of SEO:
Localized Traffic: With local SEO strategies, you can target the local potential customers. Like you can use Google My Business to get discovered by the local audience.
Mobile-Friendly: SEO also focuses on the performance of websites on different devices. In other words, it makes the websites responsive with good loading speed. It will make the websites accessible to all mobile device users.
Great User Experience: With good SEO practices, your website can get recognized by search engines and make your website easily discoverable. This lets your potential customer find you easily.
Cons of SEM:
Great Competition: Effective SEO strategy offers a higher ranking. Websites with higher rankings are targeted more by competitors.
Frequent Changes: SEO changes too frequently. With your SEO strategy, you will be at the top of the search results one day and you might not be there the next day.
Penalties: Websites have to pay a price if they don’t have the best SEO solutions. To remain at the top, you need to do some financial investment.
Slow Results: Unlike SEM, SEO takes time to show results. It is hard to tell how much a certain SEO strategy will take to show the results.
No Guarantee Results: Nothing can be guaranteed in SEO. Even if you keep your website well-updated, you still might not find your website on the first page.
SEM services or SEO services: What should you invest in for your business?
Now, hopefully, you know about the pros and cons of both SEO and SEM. So, it will be easy for you to decide which strategy will be the best for you. The answer might vary as per your business and its needs. So, think carefully and decide. Once you do that, you should get SEM services or SEO services. Managing either alone can be a tough job for you. Therefore, do proper analysis and decide.