SEO and SEM both pertain to search engines. SEO or search engine optimisation is about optimising content to improve search rankings on Google. SEM or search engine marketing, is about using paid strategies such as pay-per-click to gain visibility on search engines.
Both work together to reach audiences through search engines, yet have very different ways of doing so. We'll walk you through in more detail of what both SEO and SEM involve, how they work and when the best times are to use each one.
Search engine optimisation or SEO is the process of increasing organic traffic to a website by raising its visibility in search engine results. This requires focusing on the content within a website, as well as an off site strategy. Google uses over 200 signals when choosing which websites to show search engine users. Their ultimate aim is to present the best possible answers for their audience, which means they will be looking at your:
Search engine marketing or SEM is the process of using pay-per-click ads from a search engine to get your website page in the search results. Specific keywords are targeted and when these keywords are searched for in a search engine, the website link is shown as an advertisment. Pay-per-click or PPC ads work by you paying a fee each time your ad link is clicked upon.
PPC is set up through a search engine like Google Ads, and as such, they will be the one invoicing you for clicks. You will need to undertake keyword research to decide which words to focus on, set a bid per click, create an ad and choose your target audience. The more competition there is for a keyword, the higher the price per click you will pay.
There are several key similarities and differences between search engine optimisation and search engine marketing.
The similarities between SEO and SEM are that they both:
The differences between SEO and SEM include the following factors:
|Factors||Search Engine Optimisation||Search Engine Marketing|
|Ads||No ads are used to be found in search results, and search results can have featured snippets.||Ads are used to be found in search results, and these results feature the ad wordings.|
|Value Over Time||Takes time to rank, but is valuable over the long term.||Immediate results are achieved, but when you stop the ads, you stop the traffic.|
|Website Testing||Is not suitable for using to send traffic to test areas of your website.||Is suitable for using to send traffic to test areas of your website.|
|Payment||No payment is required when a visitor clicks through to your website.||You will pay each time a visitor clicks through to your website from an ad.|
|Audience||The search result does not target a highly specific and selected audience.||The ads are targeted to be seen by a high specific and selected audience.|
|Impacts||SEO takes time, as content needs to be indexed and then ranked by search engines.||SEM is immediate, as once the ad is live and shown, click throughs can occur instantly|
|Click Through Rate (CTR)||The CTR of SEO is higher.||The CTR of SEM is lower.|
So, should you be using SEO or SEM to drive traffic to your website? You can actually use both, but if you had to choose, then it would depend upon your:
Where to next? Learning to use either search engine marketing and search engine optimisation is time consuming. Our comprehensive SEO Resources have lots of helpful information on understanding and learning to do your own SEO. You could also work with one of the many professional SEM and SEO providers.
Posted: Friday 16 September 2022