SEO Vs SEM: What’s The Difference?
When it comes to SEO vs SEM you’ve really got to ask whether they’re really opposed to each other.
SEO and SEM are not in opposition to each other. They are not vying for position where you must choose one over the other.
SEM is an umbrella term that includes SEO and PPC.
So, the question is whether you want to add paid advertising to your marketing strategy.
It’s whether you have the budget for a short-term solution or want a long-term strategy with more powerful results.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation.
Its sole focus is to improve your website’s organic traffic so that when a potential customer is searching for what you have to offer, your website comes as high as possible.
This is achieved by a range of techniques, including building quality backlinks, optimising pages for strategic keywords, on-page SEO, technical SEO, etc. and is a long-term solution.
Organic traffic is the traffic to your website that comes from paid advertising or from accessing your website directly, meaning typing your URL into a browser.
Organic traffic can come from somebody finding you from searching on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., or from clicking a link on another site.
Building Quality Backlinks
A significant part of SEO is building backlinks.
A backlink is a link on an external site that links to your website.
It works like this: sites have what we can call authority juice. The more authority juice a website has, the higher it will appear on a Google search.
Sites like bbc.co.uk, theguardian.com or government websites have a lot of authority juice. If you have a link on these established sites pointing to your website, you get a small share of that authority.
These sites need to be relevant to what your website is promoting so the Google bots or Bing bots will consider your site as relevant to that particular topic and will rank you accordingly.
This also applies to spam sites. Having a lot of low ranking sites, or sites that are considered malicious can harm your website’s authority, as Google will consider your site as not managed very well and a potential risk to other sites.
Keeping an eye on the sites linking to you is the best way of monitoring the quality of your backlinks so you can prevent your website from getting a bad reputation.
On-page SEO means optimising a page to help it to rank as highly as possible for target keywords or longtails (a long-tail means keyphrases that are longer and more specific).
This includes making sure the headlines (H1, H2, H3, etc.) contain the keywords or long-tails the page is competing for, and the body copy contains the keywords with the appropriate supporting key phrases.
The keywords need to be in context, so it’s a good idea to use synonyms and phrases that are commonly associated with the topic you’re writing about.
It’s also important to consider the alt text on the page’s images and that the metadata is correct.
Metadata are unseen tags that tell visitors and search engines what your site is about. These are important to ensure your site is optimised for the right keywords and to improve user experience.
Technical SEO improves the backend structure of your website. This includes:
- Site speed
- Site architecture
- Structured data
Improves both the user and search bot experience can lead to higher search rankings.
Making sure your site loads fast, that it can be navigated easily with no problems for the user are all aspects of technical SEO.
Your site architecture is important to give your potential customer an error-free experience and help them find what they’re looking for with ease.
What is SEM?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the same as SEO, but also includes paid advertising. So, SEM is SEO plus PPC (Pay-Per-Click). SEM uses paid advertising to boost visibility in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and Google Ads, Facebook Ads and other platforms to get traffic to specific pages.
SEO Vs SEM: Long-Term and Short-Term Solutions
When it comes to SEO, you must play the long game.
Building backlinks, changing the headlines on a page, adjusting the metadata and technical SEO can have a profound effect on how a website ranks compared to sites competing for similar search criteria, but it is not an overnight solution.
Even Google says that it takes six to twelve months to see significant results.
It requires regular and consistent effort, but the long-term result far exceeds paid advertising.
Organic search has a far better impact when compared to paid advertisement.
When a user performs a search, about 90% of clicks go towards the organic search results, with the remaining 10% to the pay-per-click ads above or beside the organic results (ezmarketing).
Although SEM incorporates SEO, the paid element of SEM can have a quicker impact and is much better for shorter-term solutions. Targeted advertising can encourage visitors to a website and can target those using certain search queries.
As can be seen, SEO and SEM are not two separate approaches to generating traffic to your website and converting them into valuable leads. They overlap and give you the opportunity to make short-term gains whilst also setting the foundations for future success.
About Now Ltd is an SEO and web design agency with a difference. We use cutting-edge analytics and valuable data to understand your competitors and write engaging content that speaks directly to your chosen audience. This will give you a powerful advantage in getting your business in front of the right people. For more information on boosting your online visibility and getting your website working, click on the link below and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.