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SEO vs SEM – What is the difference?

This content was originally published here and since it is well written and useful I decided to post it here as well.

When trying to reach your target audiences through search engines like Google or Bing it is important to know the difference between SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). In order to properly utilize these two very essential tools, it is also important to understand how they can be combined and compared.

This post will give you a full understanding of what exactly SEO and SEM are, the similarities and differences between the two, and most importantly, how to combine these two tools to be successful in reaching your target audiences.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization at face value is trying to convince a search engine to list your content as the best solution to a user’s search. However, SEO can be broken down into four principles that help make your content the best solution for the search.

Let’s take a look at the principles here:

Technical SEO: This refers to the technical structure of a website, the usability (mobile-friendly, etc.), the speed of the site, crawlability, the data structure of the website, and indexing.

On-page SEO: On-page SEO refers to factors on the website including H1 tags, Alt attribute tags for images, and meta descriptions for pages. These factors and using them correctly i.e. having one H1 tag per page and making sure to always include Alt attributes and meta descriptions wherever possible make it easier for the search engines to digest the content in question.

Content: Content is one of the most important factors in SEO and improving it, but it is important to have a strategy for your content. For example, writing content that doesn’t refer to your brand may cause you to miss your target audience. Continually creating new content that correlates with your brand will keep your site competitive.

Off-page SEO: Off-page SEO is pretty much exactly what the name says, here you are trying to build the trustworthiness of your site by connecting through backlinks to higher authority websites. Essentially, the more links to your website that exist on other websites tell your search engine that your website is trustworthy and should be indexed higher.

The important takeaway for Search Engine Optimization is that the best results for SEO come when all four of these principles are used together.

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing is less about growing organically and more about using paid tactics to gain increased website rankings on search engines. This can also be referred to as PPC or Pay-Per-Click.

PPC is done using platforms like Google Ads to reach your target audience. It should be looked at as more than just a one-and-done ad placement on Google. Instead, it should be looked at as a process that starts with keyword research and competitor insights that eventually allow you to create a targeted campaign. If it’s successful, the campaign will place your content in front of an audience that wants to consume it.

It is important to note that SEM encompasses more than just search ads which may appear at the top of a SERP ( Search Engine Results Page). It also includes ads across other platforms such as Youtube, Gmail, and LinkedIn. Once an ad ran through an SEM campaign goes live, if a user clicks to the ad the owner of the campaign pays, hence the name PPC.

SEO vs SEM: The Differences

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “why would I want to pay for web traffic when I can just follow SEO tactics and gain it organically?”

The answer to that is that SEM provides a platform that is fully controllable, you can choose when people see your content, where they see it, and how they see it – this is optimal to testing out new strategies and understanding quickly what is and isn’t working to reach your target audience.

On the other hand, SEO is a long-term approach to ranking your website. It could take weeks or months to see active changes in your website rankings by just utilizing SEO tactics. However, this long-term solution solidifies your placement in SERP and can be built upon continuously, oh and did we mention SEO is free.

help them find youSEO vs SEM: The Similarities

It goes without saying that both of these tactics will help you grow your business if used properly, more specifically, SEO and SEM will both help improve your website’s visibility on search engines, drive a higher amount of traffic to your website – and if done correctly the traffic will be relevant to your business, help you gain a deeper understanding of your audience, and require ongoing testing and optimization to keep your website competitive in search engines.

Using SEO and SEM Together

Ultimately, both of these strategies individually will drive traffic to your website. Learning more and testing both of these tactics will help you understand which is the right option for your website. For some, the answer may be to use both. This gives you the opportunity to:

Use SEM insights to enhance your SEO:

As we mentioned before, SEM produces results very quickly and can give insights on content that is good or bad. With this information, SEO can be altered to fit the needs of your audience.

Retarget your SEO efforts by remarketing them through SEM:

If you have a user that didn’t convert through organic SEO efforts but you have data that shows what they’re interested in, you can target them through Search ads and more.

Using these two tactics harmoniously you can be the ultimate competitor on SERPs and reach the top in no time at all. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so do your research, execute your strategy, understand your audience, and one day you will be a Search Engine Champion.
Have more questions about improving your Search Engine Visibility? Reach out to our team of professionals today.

The post Search Engine Optimization vs Search Engine Marketing appeared first on Brand Iron.

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