seo vs sem

You want to get some more online traffic for your business’s website. There are so many factors that affect how many viewers you draw in and how many of those views get converted into sales. It's important to boost your presence on the search engines, so that your website is easy to locate. Once you start looking into this problem, you might have run across two similar options: search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). What’s the highest priority for your business? Do you need to focus on both SEO and SEM equally? Some of the techniques and results are the same, while others are very different. Below, Virtual Market Advantage will take a look at what both methods have to offer.

What is SEO?

Simply put, search engine optimization is a way to make your website more visible with related search engine keyword searches. As more people find your site organically, it will receive more traffic. The process of improving SEO takes time and effort. Blog postscarefully selected keywords, and other factors can help get that traffic flowing, and the process will either cost you time (if you do it yourself) or money (if you use an SEO service). There are two main parts to SEO: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.

On-Page SEO

There are several steps you can take on your website to build your SEO campaign:

  • Coordinate selective keywords into title tags, meta descriptions, and alt text.
  • Write quality, optimized blog posts and page copy.
  • Optimize page load speed. (Image optimization plays a big part here.)
  • Incorporate the site with Google resources, such as Google My Business.

Off-Page SEO

Sooner or later you’ll need to branch out into some off-page SEO tasks, which mostly have to do with integrating with social media:

  • Directly connect your website with your social media pages (WordPress has some great plugins for this purpose.)
  • Pay attention to social sharing signals.
  • Connect the pages with social bookmarking.
  • Create a high quality, natural backlink profile.

What is SEM?

Search engine marketing is a form of Internet advertising that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages. This is done by optimization and advertising of the page. SEM uses some of the same tactics as SEO, along with some more general marketing tactics.

SEM incorporates methods that require payment for results, such as paid searches - pay per click (PPC), paid listings, and paid advertisements. If you decide to use both SEO and SEM, it would fall under the category of SEM, since you’re using paid marketing as well as organic search results. The aim of this type of marketing is to help advertisers gain visibility in the search engines and get the targeted traffic more quickly.

The Difference Between SEO vs SEM

The major difference between SEO vs SEM is the use of paid search engine marketing. As stated above, SEM uses the tactic of paid marketing, like PPC campaigns, as well as social media marketing. If you decide to go the SEO-only route, you'll develop an audience more naturally, taking the time to slowly build a funnel of traffic to your site. While these two types of search engine manipulation work hand in hand, the terms are not interchangeable.

Which One Should You Use for Your Business?

There’s no one correct way to market your business, so whether you use SEO, SEM, or a mix of both is up to you. If you have the funds to run PPC campaigns, and/or you really want to jumpstart your traffic and get the ball rolling, but don’t have the time to invest in creating quality content, then SEM might be the best option for you.

If you want to take your time and get that traffic flowing in an organic way, and/or don’t want to spend the money on paid campaigns, then SEO would be the better option for you. Organic traffic is not something that will start flowing overnight. However, once you have everything running smoothly, you’re sure to be pleased with the results.

It’s a good idea to try a blend of both SEO and SEM and see which one works best for you. You’re not locked into one or the other for the long run. You can try a bit of both and then focus more on the one that gets more results over time. Just make sure you give your SEO enough time to show results.

Overall, both types of marketing have the same end goal in mind - targeting traffic to your website from search engine results. It’s just the methods of how to accomplish this goal that are different. Depending on your business, how fast you want your marketing to go, and the quality of content you’re willing to create, it’s up to you to choose the right marketing option for your company.