SEO vs SEM? For entrepreneurs, knowing the difference between these digital marketing channels ensures you meet your audience where they are. They might seem like the same thing, but they’re remarkably different.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can contribute to overall SEM (Search Engine Marketing), but knowing what each is will help you build a successful digital marketing campaign.
That’s why we’re breaking down the difference between SEO vs SEM so that you can tackle even the biggest of marketing goals.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO is the process of optimizing your web page for search engines. When you focus on SEO, you’re focusing on every aspect of your site and how it performs the keywords you choose.
If you’re optimizing for SEO, you’re likely using tools like technical and on-page SEO, as well as content development and off-page SEO. The end goal? To perform better on Google’s search engine and deliver more organic traffic to your site.
The bottom line is that SEO is generally not paid. It’s something you have to work at and frequently update to see a rise in your web traffic.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
Unlike SEO, which focuses primarily on organic search results, SEM focuses on paid search options. SEM uses Google Ads and other ad platforms to generate traffic and get search results. For example, when you see the first two search results on the top of Google, those are generally pay-per-click ads. They’re part of an overall SEM campaign.
SEM campaigns can feature several different ad types across a variety of platforms. The most popular include Display Ads, YouTube Ads, Google Ads, and Shopping Ads.
Whatever platform you choose to use, the goal is to target the audience and demographic that matters most to you and your business.
SEO vs. SEM
There are a few reasons why you might choose one option over the other.
SEO, for instance, can take months to generate results. Google doesn’t just reward you for optimizing your website, so the uptick in traffic can take a while. Which means you don’t get immediate revenue.
SEM, on the other hand, generally shows results the same day. You can see conversions from running an ad for just 24 hours compared to the few months you might have to wait for SEO.
The downside of SEM? You have to pay for it. For some small businesses, paying for clicks and conversions isn’t in the budget, even for the keywords that don’t cost a lot of money.
So, which one is right for me?
To know which tool will work best for you, you have to decide on what your goals are and what budget you have to work with.
If you’re primarily focused on getting people to your website and familiar with your brand, investing in SEO and growing your rankings over time can help with that.
But if your immediate goal is to make money, you’re likely to have to spend money. In that case, sitting down and coming up with a budget will be helpful.
Every business is different. So, deciding on a marketing strategy is all about your bottom line. When deciding between SEO vs SEM, know that both are great tools to help your company achieve long-term and short-term goals.