In the United States, 87% of smartphone users use a search engine at least once daily. In addition, 50% of users are more likely to click on a brand that displays many times in the search engine results.
It’s no secret that running a business today involves making yourself visible on the first page of search engine results. But as a new business, finding the right strategy can be tricky. The first thing you need to do is learn the difference between SEO and SEM to better understand how they can help you achieve your goals.
Keep reading this guide to learn everything you need to know about the differences between SEO and SEM.
What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process that involves improving website visibility by ranking on the organic search engine results page (SERP). The more visible you are, the more likely potential customers will find you.
When potential customers type in specific keywords about your services and products, your website will come up when you have good visibility.
SEO is critical to marketing, and recent studies show that SEO drives 1000% more traffic to your website than organic social media tactics. Once you have a good SEO plan in place, your business will grow naturally, which is one of the main benefits of SEO.
You’ll need to do keyword research to find the best keywords to use. Keyword research involves using researching popular keywords and evaluating SEO trends.
Types of SEO
There are different types of SEO that marketers use to improve website visibility. The kind of SEO you use depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. These types include:
On-page SEO is all about the content on your website. To rank on search engines, your website must have quality content that’s easy to understand and search for.
Google also wants the content to be helpful to readers. On-page SEO involves researching and finding target keywords for each webpage on your site. It also optimizes titles to include those target keywords.
You’ll also need to add fresh blog content and develop a content plan. If you have an online store, you must update all item descriptions using specific target keywords.
Technical SEO focuses on how your website performs overall. Websites that are slow to load, difficult to navigate, or have broken images don’t perform as well in search engine rankings.
Technical SEO involves different steps:
- Find and fix all duplicate content
- Make your website mobile friendly
- Evaluate data security
- Improve indexing
Technical SEO is an essential part of SEO, and you should concentrate on technical SEO before making other changes.
Off-page SEO focuses on factors beyond your website that can influence your rankings. Keep in mind that many outside influences determine how people view your website.
One of the most significant aspects of off-page SEO is establishing quality backlinks. Backlinks can build your reputation organically over time. You must start by publishing informative content on your site.
You’ll need other established websites to cite your article and link to it as a reference. Eventually, this demonstrates your website as a reputable site. Off-page SEO also focuses on:
- Ensuring you don’t have spammy backlinks that hinder SEO
- Outreach and PR
- Managing and optimizing your social media presence
- Managing customer reviews
If you don’t have people visiting your page, using off-page SEO will get people talking about your products and services.
Local SEO can get more foot traffic through your doors if your business has a physical location. Local SEO involves optimizing the content on your site for local keywords and on platforms like Google My Business.
Local SEO also involves creating local connections to get backlinks and build partnerships. You’ll also need to create a local Google business profile using local SEO.
It’s essential to realize that if you want good local SEO, you must also focus on technical, off-page, and on-page SEO.
What Is SEM?
Search engine marketing uses paid methods to gain visibility on various search engines. It’s also known as PPC or pay-per-click advertising. You’ll pay every time someone clicks on an ad.
While SEO helps websites rank organically, SEM uses advertising platforms like Bing Ads and Google Ads to reach your target customers. These ads can include:
- YouTube Ads
- Gmail Ads
- Shopping Ads
- Search Ads
- Display Ads
SEM encompasses setting up and optimizing all paid ads to increase conversions. An SEM campaign begins with research that includes competitor insights and keyword research. This way, you can create targeted campaigns that ensure your services and products are directly in front of your target audience.
You can easily recognize SEM on the search results page by seeing an ad next to the top results.
SEM is a powerful method that allows you to drive revenue by reaching new customers. This is because it can rank your site above all the organic results on the SERP.
SEM involves creating a Google Ads account and campaign structure. You’ll need to bid on keywords in an auction to secure the top-paid ad spots.
SEM can be complex at first, so you’ll need professional SEM services like a digital marketing consultant to help you create a campaign.
SEO vs. SEM Similarities and Differences
Now that you know more about SEO and SEM, let’s look closely at the similarities and differences to clarify things further.
First, SEO and SEM can improve your website’s visibility in search engines through specific keywords.
They both drive quality and relevant traffic to your website. This means more potential customers clicking ads or searching for keywords that bring them directly to your site.
SEO and SEM help you deeply understand your target audience and how to pique their interest.
Finally, SEO and SEM involve keyword research which helps you understand your competition better.
The most significant difference between SEM and SEO is that SEM uses clear, targeted ads on the SERPs. Depending on your campaign, you’ll also pay for every single time someone clicks on one of your ads.
However, you won’t pay when someone clicks on a listing that SEO organically ranks.
SEM can drive immediate results because the paid ads are live as soon as they’re approved. On the other hand, it takes time to see the organic results SEO creates.
SEO delivers results that give you value over time, so you won’t get an immediate return on your investment. With SEM, you can test and refine your ad strategies to get results quickly.
Which One Should You Use?
Choosing between one or the other depends on your specific goals. If you already have strong visibility on SERPs, then SEM may help give you the quick boost you need.
Some people use SEM to test a new product or kickstart a slow period. However, SEO and SEM are good to use if you want short- and long-term results.
Learning the Difference Between SEO and SEM
The more you learn about the difference between SEO and SEM, the stronger your marketing campaigns will be.
You’ll be able to use both of these tools more effectively to attract new customers and grow your business. Don’t hesitate to get professional help to ensure your digital marketing campaign is as effective as possible.
For more digital marketing tips, be sure to check out the rest of our blog articles today!