SEO vs. SEM
Guest post by Valerie Chong
Ever wonder why your website doesn’t get that many hits, despite all your hard work? Why aren’t you at the top of Google searches? It’s probably because of SEO/SEM – a strategy that is becoming increasingly crucial for every business to have. The world of digital marketing is always changing, and we have to keep up. To get you started, here’s a quick introduction to what SEO and SEM are, and why they’re so important.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
SEO is a strategy to help your website rank higher in organic search results, in order to increase website traffic and leads. It is also a valuable way to build brand awareness. It is an active practice that involves various techniques to optimize internal and external aspects of the website. SEO influences the content on your website, as well its design and functionality. There are also off-site ways to boost SEO and build trust.
Why is SEO important?
When your customers search for your services or products, you want your website to be at the top of the Search Engine Results Page. This is because people generally click on the first few links that they see. The higher rank your site has, the more web traffic you will receive.
Google ranks search engine results based on how trustworthy, high quality, and relevant those websites are. It has created a vast index of all sites, which an automated bot “crawls” through to look for keywords indicating which websites are relevant for what the consumer searched for. If you haven’t taken SEO into consideration when building your website, Google will not be able to find your site or won’t believe it to be relevant.
What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?
Search engine marketing typically refers to paid online search advertisements. Paid online advertisements are a way to ensure that your website can get to the top spot immediately. These can be targeted to very specific demographics and geography. There are display and text-only ads available through Google, as well as promoted posts and ads through social media networks.
Why might I need paid search ads (SEM)?
It may take a long time (several months or even a few years) for your website to climb to the first page of Google search results as it builds credibility online. Paid ads are a great way to give your site an initial boost while you build your organic presence. They can also be effective for short-term promotions, seasonal products, and more.
The benefits and drawbacks of SEO and SEM
|Search Engine Optimization (SEO)|
- Lasts a long time
- Perceived as much more trustworthy than paid ads by Google AND by customers
- No continued ad costs
- Takes time to build – patience is key
- May require significant updates to existing website
- Requires strategic planning for all future content creation
|Search Engine Marketing (SEM)|
- Quick to implement and see results
- ROI is easily obtained
- Customizable and targeted
- Continual cost and ad maintenance/refreshing
- Less trustworthy to customers and to Google