Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are often confused with one another. While SEM strategy and SEO tactics often go hand in hand, sometimes it’s tough knowing which is which. It’s not that you need one or the other – no, you need both. If you’re having trouble getting your website to bring in sales leads, then keep reading.
Let’s run through how to maximize both SEM strategy and SEO strategy for your business.
What is SEO?
Before we start, it’s important to note distinctions. Although the names and acronyms are similar, they aren’t the same concept. Yes, SEO is an integral part of SEM – but that’s the thing.
It’s only a part.
Search engine optimization is the most cost-friendly marketing investment you can make. If you build content yourself, it’s free. Hire someone, and you’ll spend money on a salary, but not on any sort of brand placement.
SEO involves the deliberate use of keywords, HTML tags, meta data and other content-related or backend-oriented tactics to manipulate your rank on Google. The more authority you gain through these SEO strategies, the higher your website shows in the Google search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher your website, the better brand awareness, the higher the traffic and the more consumers convert.
What is SEM?
SEM on the other hand, encompases any strategy that involves gaining traffic from search engines like Google and Bing. Along with SEO being a tool, SEM encompases paid placement such as pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC), paid inclusion that simply gets you ranked for a price, and of course traditional ads placed on SERPs. All of these subsets are unique and their tools perform different functions.
So how do you know when to break out the wallet, or break out the word processor?
Paid vs. Organic
The best answer for paid vs. organic search engine marketing is not a question of which one is better. It is a matter of finding the right harmony between the two.
First, consider your budget. If you have no way of paying for a PPC or CPC campaign (which can get pricey), then you’re probably going to want to stick with SEO.
If you do have some leeway with your money, paid advertisements are worth a shot. Because improvements are made to search engine algorithms constantly, your SEO work often can be down-ranked from the changes. Paid SEM investments on the other hand, are invincible against the updates, and will maintain their original form for their entire lifespan.
To ensure you see a return on your SEM investment, conduct a few marketing tactics behind the scenes:
You’re going to want to narrow down you your brand will be speaking to. Who is your SEO target market and where do they hang out online? How will you speak to them and why will they tune in to what you and your brand are saying?
To ensure your marketing strategy works, you should be doing what every good marketer or small business owner should be doing. Test and test again. A/B testing or conversion optimization for your paid campaign is the most effective way to improve your paid advertisement visibility and conversion rate.
Short Term vs. Long Term
Whether you should use paid placement or organic tactics depends heavily upon your business objectives. Do you want to (or can you) pay upfront, move a lot of products fast and hope for a return on your investment? Or do you have time to slowly build a thriving brand awareness to sell products?
For the short-term, it’s suggested that you utilize SEO, or a combination of SEO with SEM strategies. Something like a CPC or PPC campaign will deliver your site traffic immediately. But, stop the renewal license for those paid ads, and the traffic ceases as well.
SEO on the other hand, is better for the long term. Because of the time-involvement, including keyword research, content strategy and creation, and backend tagging, SEO will be a much lengthier process. But, as long as you stick to the strategy, it’s something that will help you thrive organically for a long time.
So Which is Better for Business?
A report published by ecommerce platform MarketLive, in August of 2013 examined hundreds of ecommerce sites, summing up data from paid and organic search.
Here are two key points:
- The conversion rate for paid search was 2.6%, compared to 1.9% organic.
- Paid search increased 3.3% from 2012 to a $113 order size, while organic search was $110.
These figures show that yes, paid search converts more, but it’s also more expensive – and that expense is continuing to grow.
A paid campaign will cost more, and as the data shows, return your dollar, but it’s an upfront venture. If you want to increase website traffic immediately, some form of paid SEM is your best option. But make sure that when someone gets to your website, they can easily find what they are looking for and convert.
An organic campaign, such as SEO or social media isn’t as good as converting consumers as, say a PPC campaign, but if you have the resources to play the waiting game – it might be better in the long run. An organic campaign is only as good as the content and website you create. If you are having trouble with organic search, then you may need to improve your website design.
Looking to Boost Your SEM?
You may need the help of a professional SEM team. Snap is a leader in digital marketing SEO and SEM strategies throughout Minneapolis. If you need help on the Web, call us today: (763) 848-2297.