There’s a lot of confusion around these two terms. These terms are often used interchangeably when they shouldn’t be. Both strategies have a common goal – to have Internet users visit your website. However, the methods and approaches they use to achieve that goal is where they differ.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) employs strategies and tactics used to ensure a website is as visible as possible to the search engines (a high-ranking placement in the search results pages of search engines), which will, in turn, make it easier for customers to find your website. Internet users often do not click through many pages of search results. Instead, they stop after the first or second page, or try searching again with different keywords. The higher a website naturally ranks in the organic results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. Although organic SEO takes longer to show results, in the end, it will be less costly and you will establish a search credibility that you might not be able to establish with SEM.
The following are just a few common strategies used for SEO:
– Using specific and relevant keywords.
– Link building to improve link popularity.
– Frequently creating good, relevant content.
– Creating title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, and alt text with proper keywords.
– Improving your site’s navigation to provide an excellent user experience.
– Integration of social media sites (e.g. Facebook and Twitter).
– Having a mobile-friendly website.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) encompasses different options available to use a search engine’s technology to market and advertise your business. SEM offers you the opportunity to pay based on clicks (you pay only for each click through from the advertisement to your website). Ads in a successful SEM campaign will be shown to those consumers searching specifically for your products or services, resulting in more targeted traffic to your site.
Some examples of this include:
– Google Adwords.
– Pay-Per-Click ads (PPC).
– Banner advertising.
With SEM, results are immediate, which would be ideal for a new start-up business launching their grand-opening, for example. Many marketers debate whether one is better than the other. But, the reality is, SEO and SEM are not really competing services. In fact, SEO is considered a subset of SEM services. The best way to improve your online presence on the Internet is to incorporate both SEO and SEM into your online marketing plan.