You don’t need to be a marketing expert to come across SEO or SEM. While most of us may feign the understanding of these two interrelated but different terms, when it gets down to details, most of us, including marketing experts, may break a sweat.
Marketing is a very broad and ever-evolving field. Nowadays, the inbound marketing approach has surpassed the traditional outbound technique which is slowly fading away. SEO and SEM are at the core of inbound marketing.
In this piece, we’ll highlight the difference between SEO and SEM. We’ll also look at some key things you should know about each search strategy.
What Are SEO and SEM?
Before we delve into the differences, it’s a good idea first to get a firm understanding of what each term denotes
SEO abbreviates Search Engine Optimization. SEO is a natural or organic way to boost your web search engine ranking. SEO comprises strategies to boost a website’s search engine ranking and thus attract more traffic to the site.
A website’s ranking is premised on what the search engine deems most relevant to the users. The search engine aims to make what’s most useful to the user easily accessible.
You know how Google, Bing, and Yahoo all list down their primary search results. SEO is a strategy to make your website among the primary results and be among the top results on the list.
Just like SEO, SEM is also a search engine strategy. SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. It is a form of paid marketing that advertises your product or services on a search engine results page.
Advertisers bid on keywords that users are likely to enter when looking up something online. The search engine will then display the advertisements next to the search engine results.
The ads’ relation to the search query makes SEM a pretty effective marketing technique, but SEM comes at a literal price.
What Is Key Difference Between SEO and SEM
With a firm understanding of what SEO and SEM are, we can now proceed to what makes these two somewhat related search engine strategies different. Here’s an in-depth look at SEO and SEM and their key differences.
1. The Payment Aspect
SEM is paid advertising on search engine platforms. There is, however, a lot more involved in SEM than just paying for your advert to appear on the search engine’s results page.
These paid advertisements are known as PPC or pay-per-click ads. Apart from PPC, you may also come across terms like CPC, cost per click or search engine paid advertising in SEM.
All these terms generally denote the same thing. You have to pay the search engine a stipulated amount each time a user clicks on your ad.
SEO, on the other hand, doesn’t involve any direct payment to the search engine or publisher. SEO instead utilizes plenty of strategies to keep up with the ever-changing search engines’ algorithms.
You, however, may have to cough up a bit of cash if you want effective SEO strategies. There are local companies that offer specialized SEO services tailored for your website’s needs. You can read all about these services in this article.
2. The Elements of Each Strategy
SEO needs to keep up with the ever-evolving search engine algorithms. These algorithms sort the most relevant information and make it available to the user as a high-ranking search engine page.
SEO boils down into two main types, namely, on-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page, SEO includes the following elements:-
- Integration with social media and sharing platforms
- Tweaking your website for faster page load speeds
- Proper and strategic use of keywords in web content
For off-page SEO, think along the lines of link building, taking advantage of social bookmark sites like Reddit.
These are just a few elements of SEO. SEO generally has tons of varied elements to maintain the ever-changing search engine algorithms.
SEM elements aren’t as broad or as varied as SEO elements. The main tenets of SEM are the keywords and account structure. If you have these two elements on lock, then you can successfully launch an effective SEM strategy.
The account structure splits into different components that collectively determine the effectiveness of your SEM. These components include the ad campaigns, landing pages, text on the ads, and ad groups.
What Are the Benefits of SEM?
SEM is a pretty effective marketing technique. Part of this effectiveness is because you tailor the ads to particular users who are already inclined towards buying that type of product or service.
Here are a few benefits of SEM:
- Traffic influx is highly likely to convert– SEM premises on intent and orients particular users to particular ads
- Raises brand awareness– Paid ads appear on the search engine results page. The user doesn’t have to engage with any other page before seeing your ad. This means your ad is more likely to get noticed by multitudes across the internet.
- Quick return on investment– With the proper strategy, you can even generate sales the same day you put up your ad online. SEM quickly generates sales.
Benefits of SEO
Like SEM, SEO is not without its benefits. In fact, most thriving companies already have an SEO strategy in place or in the works. Here are a few benefits of SEO:-
- No payment required– One thing SEO has on SEM is that you don’t need to pay for any ads. You may, however, use some money in refining your SEO techniques
- Gives you an edge over the competition– Proper SEO gives your company a clear edge over your competitors. With the right strategies, you can also build rapport with the customers that will enhance customer retention.
- Targets the right traffic– Traffic from SEO is more likely to engage with your product and for a longer-term than SEM.
Which Search Engine Strategy is Right for You?
Now that you know the difference between SEO and SEM, it’s time to pick a strategy for your company. Of course, you can always use both strategies for the greatest effect. Just remember to do your homework before settling on a strategy or an SEO service provider.
Don’t forget to check out our other articles for more informative reads.