Want to know the difference between SEO and SEM? Get ready to learn!
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SEM – an online marketing strategy that involves getting traffic, paid and unpaid, from the search engines
According to Wikipedia, SEM is “a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPS) through optimization and advertising.”
SEO – a means of optimizing your website so that you get organic (free) traffic from the search engines
According to the Google Knowledge Graph, SEO is “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.”
SEO is a part of SEM!
One aspect of search engine marketing is SEO. However, SEM goes beyond SEO to include paid traffic.
Why Is SEM Traffic So Important?
SEM traffic is important because it’s targeted. It brings people to your website who are searching for information related to your niche.
2 Types of SEO
Broadly speaking, there are 2 types of SEO: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-Page SEO – optimizing your own website for maximum visibility in the search engines
Off-Page SEO – gaining natural backlinks from other websites
Examples of On-Page SEO:
- Using keywords properly in title tags, headers, and meta descriptions
- Posting blogs with quality, shareable content that easily rank in the search engines
- Using clean URLs
- Optimizing the site so it loads quickly on all devices
- Making it easy for readers to share your content on social media
Examples of Off-Page SEO:
- Creating a natural backlink profile from quality websites
- Sharing your content on social media
- Gaining attention from influential people in your domain
What’s Organic Traffic?
Organic traffic is traffic you receive for free from the search engines. You get organic traffic with SEO.
What Is Paid Search?
You can pay one or more of the search engines to list your site in the results list. That’s called paid search.
How Does Paid Search Work?
If you’re interested in running a paid search campaign, here are the steps you’ll have to follow:
- Create an account – Start by creating an ad on an ad network. You’ll need to provide complete information about your business and how you’ll pay for your ads.
- Select your keywords – You’ll run ads based on keywords. When people search for those keywords, they’ll see your ad. That’s why it’s important to select only keywords relevant to your niche.
- Bid for the keywords – Unless your keywords are very unique, you’ll be competing with other advertisers for ad space. That’s why you need to bid high enough so that people see your ad, but not so high that you limit your ROI.
- Set a headline and description – Since your ad will show in the search results, you’ll have limited characters for both the headline and description. Use the space wisely.
- Set your budget – Most advertising platforms let you set a periodic budget so you don’t have to deal with cost overruns.
- Launch your campaign – Once everything is set up, launch your campaign with just the click of a button.
Popular Search Engine Ad Networks
- Google AdWords – allows you to run ads on Google search results
- Bing Ads – allows you to run ads on Bing search results
Currently, Google AdWords is the second most popular ad technology in the world. Bing Ads is the 10th most popular ad technology.
Difference Between SEO and SEM: What’s PPC?
Search ad networks generally use a pay-per-click (PPC) payment structure. That means you only pay when somebody clicks on your ad.
The advantage to PPC over paying for “space” is that you’re only making an investment when your ad gets results.
Where Does the Ad Appear?
If you’re thinking about running an ad on a search engine, you certainly want to know where it will appear. The answer is: it depends.
Google AdWords – Your ad will show at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) but not necessarily on the first page. Keep in mind that there are 3 spaces at the top of the SERPs. If you want your ad to appear at the top of the first page, you’ll need an Ad Rank better than your competitors.
Bind Ads – Bing ads includes ads at the top and on the sidebar. As you can imagine, ads at the top are more expensive.
Difference Between SEO and SEM: Google AdWords Ad Rank
Google ranks ads and uses that rank to determine where they’re shown in the SERPs. An ad with a rank of 1 will appear at the top of the first page.
Here’s what determines your ad rank:
- Expected click-through rate (CTR)
- Ad relevance to keyword
- Landing page experience
If you want to improve your ad rank, here’s what you can do:
- Increase your bid
- Improve the quality of your ad
- Improve the quality of the landing page user experience
Which Is Better? SEO or SEM?
Now that you know the difference between SEO and SEM, you might be asking: “Which one is better?”
The answer to that depends on your overall strategy and budget.
- If you’re running a startup and bootstrapping, you probably won’t have a lot of money for paid search
- If your business has plenty of cash and a narrowly defined target market, you might benefit from paid search
In this day and age, all businesses need SEO. That’s no longer an option.
Difference Between SEO and SEM: Paid Search Advantages:
- Instant web traffic unlike SEO which takes a long time to get results
- Guaranteed visibility that boost brand-name awareness
Difference Between SEO and SEM: SEO Advantages
- Although it takes a long time to get results, it establishes organic search credibility
- Usually inexpensive relative to SEM
- It can be less expensive in the long run
Learn More About The Difference Between SEO and SEM
FAQ Difference Between SEO and SEM
Why is SEM so important?
SEM has many benefits. Not only does it cover SEO in its entirety, it extends to your entire presence in the search results. When implemented correctly, strong SEM can:
- Increase leads to your website
- Increase visitors to physical locations
- Increase online visibility
- Offer precise targeting
- Provide trackable and measurable analytics
- Target users based on search intent
How can I improve my PPC conversion rates?
There are many ways to improve your conversion rate. First, you’ll want to reestablish your goals and A/B test your ads – your CTA, ad creative, timing, etc. – to see which version best achieves them. From there, you may need to make changes to your landing page to make sure users are converting once they get there.
How does Ad rank affect cost-per-click (CPC)?
When it comes to PPC, the higher your ad rank, the higher your CPC. The most you will pay is the minimum amount required to hold your ad rank position. If you want a high rank in the search engine results, you will need to budget accordingly.
What is the most important factor in an SEO campaign?
There’s no one answer to this question. The fact is there are many factors that play important roles, and will depend on the overall goals of your campaign. Common important factors include keyword research and selection, backlink profile, quality content, etc.
How does my Google Quality Score affect my PPC campaign?
Google’s Quality Score is based on a few key factors: keyword, ad text, and landing page relevance, as well as your historical performance. If you maintain a high quality score, Google rewards you with higher ad rankings and lower costs. So, the higher your score, the lower your cost per conversion.