Do you have an online presence? For example, an online store? If yes, chances are that you’ve spent some time thinking or talking about how to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to get more people to your website.
The debate between SEO and SEM is one that is forever sparking conversations around the best marketing methods. While this argument will likely continue, there is one thing for certain: to grow your online business, you must understand what SEO and SEM mean, their benefits and how they can impact your brand. But first, let’s look at some eye-opening numbers.
Are Web Searches Key To Success?
Web searches are one of the most powerful marketing tools in today’s market.
Think about it, every day, you probably search for something on Google – whether it’s concert tickets or to reserve a table at your favorite restaurant.
You’re not alone: 3.5 billion people search for something on Google per day.
This translates to 1.2 trillion searches per year and the numbers continue to rise.
This means a lot of customers - in theory!
If you want to turn theory into practice, you need to harness the power of digital marketing. That’s how you tap into this huge pool of potential customers and make sure they find their way to your site. And this is exactly where SEO and SEM come into play.
SEO vs. SEM - What’s the Difference-Maker?
Both methods are designed to attract visitors to your website. The fundamental difference between both methods is that SEM is a paid strategy, whereas SEO is an organic strategy. Organic, in this context, means unpaid and just like in organisms, your growth depends on the interaction with others. Getting visitors without paying for it sounds pretty good, right? So let’s have first a closer look at SEO.
How Can SEO Boost Your Visibility?
SEO is best defined as a way to increase the number of visits to your page by getting your site to appear on the web when people search for it. When a user looks for specific products or services, Google’s search engine shows a set of results based on what Google’s algorithms think is most relevant to the user’s search. So instead of paying for your placement on Google, you can deploy other tactics to make your page appear in the top.
One tactic would be to make sure your website says what your customers look for. This could be as simple as having specific keywords included in your website text that relate to the searches. For example, “trustworthy fashion retailer” could be what customers type into Google, so you should make sure your website says this too. But using specific keywords to get people to your site is only half the story. When you go for SEO to make your website as relevant as possible, your website’s user-friendliness becomes a crucial factor.
Improving your website usability is a huge topic by itself. It relates to various issues such as the layout and formatting of your site, content quality and readability, page load speed, multimedia optimization, the number of inbound and outbound links, and the list could go on and on.
One of the best things about SEO is that you can get more online visibility for free, just by improving your website’s usability and user experience. Therefore, the goal of any SEO strategy is to make people interact with your content as much as possible. It boosts your website’s organic ranking and can get you to the top of Google’s search results. But before you rush off to begin improving your site, let’s briefly turn to SEM and see what’s so special about it.
Is SEM The Real Deal?
In contrast to SEO, SEM is a paid tactic to gain visibility in Google’s search results.
Instead of being fully dependent on your website, SEM strategies involve launching and optimizing ads that target and attract customers to your site. This approach is generally based on pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. In Google’s sphere, PPC marketing equates to Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords).
Here’s Google Ads in a nutshell: You create ads that target specific keywords related to your industry, products, or services. When a user types in keywords you’re targeting, Google automatically determines which of your ads is most relevant to the user’s search and shows them in the search results on its assigned position. And yes, this is what happens for every of the 3.5 billion searches, every day.
As the name of PPC already implies, you never pay a dime for your ad placement. Instead, you only pay for real results – clicks.
Also, advertisers on Google Ads make on average $2 for every $1 they invested.
So, expect to double your investment once you start using Google Ads.
Here you have to think about how your advertising strategy aligns with your business goals. If it is to attract more clicks at the right time, this option works extremely well. More clicks, in turn, leads to better visibility and more sales. There are some metrics to consider as you will be competing against others who are targeting the same keywords, which can make it tricky. But SEM is a pretty useful tool to use to get ahead of your competition - especially when operating in the e-commerce arena.
Thousand and One Nights of SEO
Now you know what SEO and SEM mean and how they differ. But how should you integrate them into your overall marketing strategy? If you focus on one too much over the other, you might lose the benefit of the collective approach. So where should you start?
While you might believe that SEO strategy is more appealing because it can generate “free” traffic, you should better look twice and consider its downsides as well.
Few people know how to create content and make site adjustments that are aligned with SEO principles. Google is also secret about the way its algorithms evaluate your website and assign a ranking position. If you’re not experienced in SEO, it’s unlikely that you instinctively come up with improvements that boost your organic ranking.
In other words, SEO takes a lot of time and efforts.
Also, your ranking depends on other users reading your content and creating links on other websites. Let’s assume people want to create links to your website on their sites. But how are they supposed to discover you if your website isn’t ranked high in the Google search results? They won’t notice you if you lack visibility in Google’s search results, meaning they won’t create the links you need to improve your ranking.
To break this vicious circle and accelerate your path towards successful digital marketing, SEM comes in handy.
Jump-Start Your Growth With SEM
The key success in digital marketing is to have an immediate impact using SEM.
First, you target your desired audience, then get your ads up and running, and whenever your target audience searches for specific keywords on Google, your ads can show up on the top. And keep in mind, this is all free – until people actually click your ads and get to your site.
SEM makes your marketing as simple as flipping a switch. At any time, you can switch on your ads, increase visibility, and attract more visitors. Or you just turn them off whenever you had enough. You can’t do this with SEO because it’s an incremental process. It means your strategy typically takes months or years before you see your brand pop up on the top of Google’s search results. Part of the reason why it takes so long is the continuous testing to see what Google’s algorithms actually count as improvements to your website usability.
SEM can help you to speed up the testing process so you know what to do for a better SEO ranking. With SEM you can quickly revise your ads in terms of their message and format, target different audiences and change the landing page content. Doing so helps you test various tactics in a short amount of time and gain valuable insights into your audience and possible improvements of the user experience on your site.
This level of flexibility makes SEM an indispensable strategy for all who want to accomplish their goals and grow their business.
Get The Right Marketing Tools
Choosing the right balance between SEO and SEM truly depends on what your goal is.
Your time is important and must not be wasted. If you want to quickly realize your business potential using digital marketing, you’re probably looking at an SEM strategy using Google Ads. The key to success through Google Ads is to have the right tools helping you effectively build and manage your ads. One tool that does this is the official Google Premier Partner and Premium PrestaShop Partner module Cobiro.
It’s the most promising way to spread your word, win new customers, and grow large.