SEO VS. SEM? WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
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The main difference is that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) focuses on optimizing the website in order to get traffic from organic search results. On the other hand, the aim of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is to obtain traffic and visibility from both organic and paid searches.
Put another way:
Google’s search results are divided into two main categories: the paid search results and the organic search results.
SEO ‘s goal is to rank your website in the results of an organic search.
You can also get your website via pay – per – click (PPC) search results in the paid area.
SEO is where you rely 100% on the rating of organic results. SEM is when you use both SEO and PPC to get traffic from search engines.
Oh, indeed, SEM is a broad term that includes SEO and PPC. Which means that SEO falls “under” the SEM umbrella group.
With this clarification out of the way, let’s get into some of the major differences between SEM and SEO.
OVERVIEW FOR SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION)
SEO is the practice of constantly optimizing the website to rank in the Natural, Unpaid Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Google uses 200 + signal rankings in its algorithm. That said, SEO can be divided into four main subcategories: SEO on-page, SEO off-page, SEO technological and User Interaction Signals.
On-Page SEO: This is where you customize your website for keywords that your target user is looking for in Google, Bing and other search engines. For example, one of the best practices on the SEO page is to use your main keyword in your title tag, meta description and webpage URL.
Off-Page SEO: Off-Page SEO is all about getting confidence and authority signals from other websites. This involves, in particular, creating high-quality backlinks to your site. Yet Google may also use other off-page signals to maximize the influence of your site, such as E-A-T and social media sharing.
Technical SEO: Here’s where you make sure that Google and other search engines can crawl and index all of the pages on your website. Technical SEO also includes things like making sure your pages load quickly. And that your site architecture is set up correctly.
User Interaction Signals: The way users interact with your site helps Google figure out if your page is a good match for someone’s search. For example, if your page has a high bounce rate, it might be an indication that your page doesn’t give someone the response to their question. And if Google finds your page to be a bad match for that keyword, they will drop your rankings down a little bit. Or absolutely out of the first tab.
OVERVIEW OF SEM (SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING)
SEM is a high-level term that includes SEO. So, everything that I just outlined above for SEO also applies to SEM. But in addition to SEO, SEM also includes PPC. And PPC is a field that has its own set of features, best practices and more.
Bidding: Whether you’re using Google Ads or Bing Ads, the paid search ads are all about bidding. For PPC, you ‘re asking for a specific keyword. And when someone searches for that keyword, your ad will show up.
The rankings of the advertisements are usually proportional to the amount that someone is bidding. So, if you’re the highest bidder, you ‘re going to appear in front of all the other commercials.
And when someone clicks on your ad, you ‘re going to pay whatever price you ‘re offering. The price you pay when someone clicks on your ad is known as cost per click (CPC).
Quality Score: The Quality Score is a very significant Google Ads metric. It’s essentially Google’s way to figure out if your ad is a good match for whatever someone is searching for. Google determines the quality score based on the combination of click through rate, the quality of your landing page and the overall quality score of your Google Ad account. And if your ad has a high – quality ranking, you’ll get a discount every button.
Ad Copy: Writing a convincing ad copy is a big part of doing well with PPC. Why? Why? Great ad copy= high CTR value. And the CTR is a good quality score. That means you pay less for the same button. The opposite is true, too. When your copy doesn’t drive people to click on it, your Quality Score will suffer. And your PPCs are going to start getting super expensive.
Ad Groups and Account Management: Here’s where you ‘re using the data in your Google Ads account to maximize your ad spending.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO SEE RESULTS
Speed is one of the main differences between SEO and SEM. The fact of the matter is: SEO takes time. A lot of time, man. Especially if your site is new and you don’t have a lot of backlinks yet. In fact, the Ahrefs study found that it takes an average of 2 years to rank on Google’s first list. And many of the top pages were first published 3 + years ago.
This doesn’t mean you’re expected to take 2 years to rank in Google. When you try long tail keywords and follow SEO best practices, you should start seeing some results within a few months. On the other hand, if you concentrate your SEM efforts on PPC, you will start seeing results quite quickly. You can run an ad in the morning, and you can start getting traffic and conversions in the afternoon.
But that doesn’t mean you’re going to get a ROI on Day 1. In many cases, it may take months of testing and refining to get a good PPC ROI. Even so, there is no doubt that PPC is starting to work much faster than SEO.
HOW MUCH DO THEY COST?
A lot of people are drawn to SEO because it’s “free website traffic”. And yes, you don’t pay when someone clicks on your site in the organic search results. But make no mistake: SEO is NOT free. Not even close. First, you need specialists to optimize your website to be SEO-Friendly. And that was with no guarantee that this page would rank for anything. Contrast that with an SEM approach that’s 100% PPC.
In that scenario, you ‘re going to spend cash in advance. But at least you know that you’re going to get some of the fruits of that effort. (You can even set your account to automatically bid to appear in a certain position). So, over the short term, PPC is usually cheaper than SEO.
However, the big issue with PPC is this: When you stop paying, your traffic will be nil. But with SEO, when you rank, you ‘re pretty set. Your investment is all up front. When you actually rank, you don’t need to invest a lot of money to retain your current rankings. So, yeah, when it comes to cost, SEO and PPC have their pros and cons. That’s why most businesses use a marketing strategy that includes a combination of SEO and PPC.
HOW TO DECIDE ON WHAT’S BEST FOR MY BRAND?
Should you be concentrating 100% of your digital marketing efforts on SEO? Or you should combine SEO and PPC and launch a full-on search marketing campaign.
You focus on SEO when:
You Have a Very Limited Budget: If you’re a startup or a small business with a low marketing budget, you might want to concentrate on SEO. You may not see a ROI in your SEO budget for months or years. But it still makes more sense than burning through your marketing budget to PPC ads that can only run for a week.
You Can Rank for Informational Keywords: Knowledge keywords are phrases like “What is X” or “How to X” Although these types of search queries don’t translate very well, they get a lot of search volumes. So, if you feel like you can write AMAZING content on topics that customers are looking for in Google, SEO is probably your best bet.
You Can Wait: SEO and content marketing are taking time to kick in. So, if you can play a long game and wait 6 – 12 months to see the lawful traffic beginning to roll in from Google Search, go to SEO.
You’re Good at Link Building: Creating high – quality content is a vital part of Google ‘s ranking. But this isn’t enough. If you’re serious about ranking, you’ll also need to use a few different link building techniques to get other places to connect to you.
On the other side, you focus on PPC when:
You Have a Consistent Ad Budget: One of the good things about PPC advertising is you can set a strict budget. That way, you can’t spend more than you’ve planned. That said, it’s easy to burn through that budget quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing (and if you’re just getting started with paid ads, you won’t). That means that you need a daily monthly budget the you can play with to find out what keyword targeting, ad copy, landing page, and bid combination works best for you.
You Can Manage an AdWords Account: PPC sounds super simple on the floor. Ask for keywords. Get your flow. But in fact, running a Google Ads account is no joke at all. You need to take keywords — targeting, ads, quality score, ROI, conversion rates— and process all of these data to make the most of your ad decisions.
You Have the Ability to Launch and Test Landing Pages: Some of the first things you’ll know about PPC is that you need a targeted landing page for each ad. Or at least for every ad group. So, to get the most out of PPC, you need a way to easily launch a lot of different web pages. Or run the A/B tests to find out which some is better performing.
With that being said, both methods are effective. You just have to decide base on your needs and requirements. But don’t worry, we will be adding more contents to our SEO SERIES to help you boost your presence online.
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