Search engines drive the majority of internet traffic. SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) are commonly used digital marketing terms, naming strategies essential to online marketing. Marketers turn to SEO and SEM strategies to increase their visibility on search engines. Both these techniques offer organizations ways to increase sales but are slightly different approaches. To ensure your marketing team focuses on the right strategy for your business needs, itâs wise to understand the key differences between SEO and SEM.
What Is Search Engine Optimization?
In the internet age, generating leads is about far more than putting out a few ads. Traditional outbound marketing no longer represents the full picture. You need to give your leads a reason to come to you, and you need to make yourself as visible as possible in search results. If not, youâll miss out on a vast portion of your potential customers! With SEO solutions tailored to your business, you can drive more high-quality organic traffic to your site than ever. SEO represents a wide range of marketing, web development, and writing techniques designed to increase the quantity and quality of search-based web traffic to your website. Much of SEO is focused on the goal of improving your visibility by getting your web pages to rank higher in search results, but at its best, it goes beyond this. Itâs just as important for SEO to support the image and trustworthiness of your brand, aid in developing a stronger connection with your audience, and help you convert high-quality leads into loyal customers. Its significance within your marketing strategy shouldnât be underestimated. Between 70% and 80% of search users are focused on organic search results and 51% of overall traffic to business websites comes from organic search. Considering how many leads this amounts to, itâs easy to see why SEO is the highest inbound marketing priority for 61% of marketers. SEO strategies depend on understanding search engine ranking systems. An effective SEO strategy earns you long-term traffic but requires time, effort, and an initial investment that will yield results down the line.
What are the benefits of SEO?
Search engine optimization is crucial if you're looking to create long-term brand awareness, expand your target audience(s) and earn more revenue. The following are some of the benefits of SEO for your business:
- SEO generates more traffic: People are constantly searching for goods/services/information on the internet. It's estimated that Google processes approximately 63,000 search queries every second, translating to 5.6 billion searches per day and approximately 2 trillion global searches per year. Organic traffic (the number of visitors coming from search engine results as opposed to paid sources of traffic) makes up a significant percentage of search engine traffic. If you rank well on Google search engine pages, youâll receive consistent, passive traffic. Organic visibility, leading to increased website traffic, is a huge benefit of SEO.Â
- SEO improves the user experience: Try reading an article with the same keyword repeated in almost every sentence. Not a great experience! A good user experience is synonymous with good SEO practices. High bounce rates tell Google that the web page is not valuable for the user, often resulting in lower rankings. A robust site structure andÂ easy navigation are factors that increase search engine ranking while simultaneously creating a better user experience. Good SEO practices actively improve the user experience.Â
- SEO yields a high return on investment: SEO results take time but eventually deliver an impressive return on investment. Leads from search engines have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (cold-calling, direct mail, etc.) have a 1.7% close rate. Search engine visibility directly correlates to boosted web traffic and increased revenue.
- SEO boosts credibility: Google ranks a website based on a variety of on-page and off-page elements (created content, website speed, mobile usability, etc.) Users trust Google to deliver relevant valuable content at the top of their search engine pages. 75% of people never scroll past the first page of results. If your site ranks high on SERPs pages itâs likely considered high-quality and trustworthy.Â
- SEO decreases advertising costs: A well-planned SEO strategy costs less than paid advertising and is more precisely targeted. Additionally, ranking high on the first page of SERPs may provide your business with the option to decrease your spending on other forms of advertising.Â
- SEO supports content marketing: Creating original, high-quality, useful content that contains text, images and video helps your site rank higher in search results.Â Â
- SEO maximizes PPC campaigns: Pay-per-click (PPC) and SEO work well together. Ranking at the top of paid search results and organic rankings gives users many opportunities to find your website. Also, SEO data can be used to inform and optimize your PPC strategies.
- SEO gives you a competitive edge: Page one of the SERPs garners 95% of all traffic from an average search. If you wish to compete against similar businesses, SEO is essential.Â Â
- SEO targets every stage of the buying funnel: SEO draws prospects interested in your goods/services. It attracts users with intent, no matter what stage of the buying funnel theyâre in, and connects with every type of target audience.
- SEO helps you rank better in local searches: Since nearly 80% of local searches on mobile lead to conversions, SEO strategies are a great way to attract local users who are ready to buy.Â
- SEO provides 24/7 promotion: SEO takes advantage of searches occurring every second, promoting your business 24/7. You can reach users whenever theyâre looking for you, rather than only during work hours.Â
- SEO gets quantifiable results: With Google Analytics you can track changes in ranking, conversion, bounce rate, time on site and website traffic. You can see every userâs journey (pages engaged with, keywords searched, actions taken, etc.). These real-time numbers help you understand the impact of your investment and monitor your SEO strategy.Â
- SEO is a long-term strategy: SEO efforts compound over time, leading to increased results. Implementing well thought out SEO strategy (content creation, on-page optimization, etc.) results in remarkable long-term results.Â
What is SEM?
Search engine marketing (also known as pay-per-click marketing) is a technique that displays ads in search engine results. The goal is to improve the position of your website through paid ads that appear for certain keywords. Advertisers select a list of keywords that are relevant to their company/products and bid to have their ad show when someone searches for those words or phrases. The search provider displays a results page with both organic and sponsored results. Advertisers pay to have their ads displayed above or below the organic results. The advertiser is not charged until someone clicks on the ad. Search ads result in an increased likelihood of clicks and conversions as they're based on the explicit need of the user. Theyâre frequently linked to landing pages and/or product pages that help move web traffic along the sales funnel. SEM strategies include creating and optimizing digital ads as well as creating a budget to pay for the ads. Using analytics engines, SEM specialists compare their performance to that of their direct competitors. This data helps improve their ads to draw more traffic and convert more customers.
Types of SEM ads:
- Text ads, dynamic search ads, and call-only ads are the most common kinds of ads on the Search Network. They appear with an âAdâ or âAdsâ label on the search results page. They often show with ad extensions, allowing advertisers to include business details like location or phone number.
- Shopping ads display and/or link to products for sale. They're labelled as âSponsoredâ or appear with an âAdâ or âAdsâ label on the search results page.
- Image and video ads: Search partners can host image ads and video ads.
Reasons to use SEM:
- Ensure a guaranteed spot on the front page of the search engine.
- Gain visibility by getting your ads in front of more users.
- Maintain/grow brand recognition.
- Easy real-time tracking, allowing every ad, keyword and penny spent to be quantified.
- Ability to schedule ads and target them to specific locations and times.
- Access to each search engine's affiliate network, websites and products.
- Supplement organic traffic.
- Capture high-quality leads precisely matched to a user's search intent.
- Reach a small, specific target audience/great segmentation possibilities.
- Ideal if your product or service has a short sales cycle.
- Get results in the short to medium term.
- Good use of a small advertising budget.
- Lets you cater to a local market.
SEO and SEM both help organizations generate web traffic. SEM specialists may also be SEO specialists, as the roles share significant similarities. SEO specialists deliver keyword-enriched content that search engines and consumers find informative and useful. Theyâre focused on optimizing a website in order to get traffic from organic search results. SEO takes time but is low cost. SEM specialists are marketers first, concerning themselves with online campaigns focused on a particular brand/product. They find and test new keywords and calculate their competitiveness and profit per click. Their goal is to get the most value (clicks, traffic, sales) from a companyâs marketing budget for paid search engine ads. SEM starts working more quickly than SEO but requires a larger money investment. Many companies employ digital marketing agencies to promote their website/product/brand with a combination of SEO and SEM techniques.Â
Interested in SEM, SEO or both? Need help with your digital marketing strategy? Call CAYK at (403) 6456-0072 or email [email protected]. Â Allow us to be your very own marketing department! Connect with our tightly-knit team of knowledgeable digital-first consultants, each eager to help your business grow. If you want the best digital marketing team in your corner, Contact us today. We'll help you take your business to the next level.