Web search is considered the most powerful tool used today. Having said this, there are various ways of using this as a successful digital marketing tactic. The well-known and most-used ones include SEO and SEM.
Both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) work toward the same set of goals, which is to increase one’s visibility on search engines. With this, it is crucial to highlight the difference between SEO and SEM.
SEO is a method used to optimize a website’s capacity to receive natural/organic traffic coming from search engine pages. SEM, on the other hand, increases relevant traffic through sponsored or paid ad listings.
Aside from the given definition of each, a lot more can still be said in terms of the differences between SEO and SEM as marketing mediums. Knowing the different features of each marketing tactic can help determine whether SEO or SEM is the best option to utilize for your business.
SEO vs. SEM: One is Essential While the Other is Optional
SEO and SEM are both effective marketing tactics. However, each has its distinct feature. In knowing what these are, we can deduce which of these two is essential and which is only optional.
Whether a site’s purpose is to gather traffic or to simply exist, SEO helps by making sure that a website is indexed and not marked as spam. If you want your site to be discovered by people who search the web for their niche, then you should opt to use SEO.
SEO is an essential form of marketing tactic that should be used by all websites. If your site has better search engine optimization quality, then the chances for it to be included in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) are also higher.
However, if you think that this marketing medium is still not enough for you and you still yearn for better search engine traffic, then you may opt to use SEM. In utilizing sponsored or paid ad listings, you can guarantee the increase of search engine traffic in a quicker span of time as opposed to using SEO only.
If you are to ask the question, “Is it also essential that I use SEM for my website?” The answer to this is no. While SEM is another effective marketing medium you can use, unlike SEO, SEM is not essential.
SEM is merely an optional approach for businesses who want to bring their brand to the top of search engine results. Not all companies need to spend on paid advertising. If an SEO strategy can already give your site or business the results that you are looking for in terms of traffic, then there’s no need to pay for ad space anymore.
SEO and SEM: Key Tools Used for Each Marketing Strategy
To make sure that the digital marketing campaign you choose to initiate will definitely be a success, using the appropriate tools and software are necessary for both SE0 and SEM. Having the best tools at your fingertips makes finding new opportunities easier. It can make success a whole lot easier to achieve.
1. Tools for SEO Marketing
With the marketing strategies enforced in SEO, some aspects are more critical. Choosing keywords, for one, is necessary to guide search engine users to your site. The popularity of your website will also depend on how you use keywords in addition to other factors.
SEO efforts that affect a site’s search engine ranking include high-quality and optimized content, quality backlinks, mobile-first indexing, optimized video, and other technical SEO factors such as encryption, keyword phrases in titles, H1 and H2 subheadings or header tags, meta descriptions, and anchor texts.
Listed below are certain SEO tools you can use, along with the reason why these tools can be of great use:
- Keyword Analysis Tools
Keywords are essential in SEO campaigns. When used effectively, it can make a site popular. Thus, it can increase your site’s ranking in web search results. Having a tool that can analyze and generate the best keywords for a campaign can help make an SEO effort successful.
- Content Effectiveness Tools
Aside from keywords, site rankings also depend on the quality of content it provides. High-quality and relevant content can keep a site afloat and even soar. Content effectiveness tools assist in finding new ideas and topics to help optimize existing content.
- Link Building Tools
While there are some issues pertaining to link building, it is still among the driving factors and strategies that help increase a site’s ranking. Link building methods before have been somewhat manipulative. Thus, link building tools can help make backlinking a little more palatable to readers.
- Technical SEO Tools
Some tools can help make SEO campaigns successful by examining all the technical aspects that are involved. It works by scraping a site and providing a spreadsheet of everything – from page titles to status codes, meta descriptions, and more. Its main function is to identify and tell the inefficiencies in an SEO campaign or the aspects that need to be altered or improved.
- Ranking Tools
A ranking tool is also necessary for SEO campaigns as it tracks a site’s current standing. It identifies which marketing strategies and campaign efforts work best and prove to be the most effective.
2. Tools for SEM Campaigns
An SEM campaign provides automatic results. It is a paid marketing method to make businesses show up in front of a web search result. The main concern with this strategy is the ability to track and identify whether an SEM campaign can provide completion of the action that would benefit your business or not. Since this is a paid marketing medium, it is important to maximize each SEM campaign. Below are tools that can help in ensuring that you get the most out of your SEM.
- Conversion Tracking
In running an SEM campaign, it is always possible that a person may simply click on your ad on the SERP, but will take no further action after that. Furthermore, site visitors may not want to download or buy the product that you are advertising. However, they may want to pursue other activities on your site.
Event tracking is when you detect people who simply click on your ad. On the other hand, conversion tracking is when you keep track of conversions on your site.
Conversion tracking tools are essential in making an SEM campaign a success as it provides technical data on which particular campaigns are performing excellently. It can also identify which keywords, ad copy, or landing page is successful in driving more activity. Conversion tracking provides a clear view of the return on investment for a particular campaign.
- A/B Testing
As its name implies, this tool can be used to make various versions of a campaign to test and identify which version performs best. It may be used in the ad itself or the landing pages associated with the ad.
Versions that can be tested include headlines, descriptions, destination URLs, call-to-action statements (CTAs), and many others. Through A/B testing, you are given an overview of the information which prompts users to click and convert.
SEO and SEM: Which Strategy Can Give You Instant Results?
In comparing SEO versus SEM, search engine marketing can provide more immediate results. Once you have paid for the SEM campaign, you automatically get the results of what you’ve paid for as your site will instantly appear on the dedicated ad space on the first page of a web search result. Thus, if you’re aiming to see instant and visible results, then opting to use SEM campaigns is ideal for your business.
SEO, on the other hand, can show results at a slower pace, especially if a site is relatively new. SEO success is all about exerting hard work in finding the right ranking factors like using keywords with high search volume, creating quality content, and building quality backlinks before traffic starts to come in. In choosing SEO solely, it can take 6 to 12 months to see a surge of traffic on your site.
Moreover, the marketing messages you can make in SEM can be as promotional and persuasive as you want them to be. There are several controls and adjustments you can make when it comes to paid advertising. It includes your title, body copy, and display URL. You have full customization options in SEM, unlike in SEO wherein you cannot exercise the same amount of control. While you can customize your title, meta description, and permalink in SEO, your post or page has to be more informational to your audience than a straight up sales pitch.
If what you are looking for are instant results, then you may choose to use SEM campaigns. Although this type of marketing medium is indeed a costly investment, it is your best bet if you want to attain instant online presence and search engine traffic.
SEO vs. SEM: the Best Option for a Long-Term Positioning Disposition
For a business to survive in the long term, it is important that you choose and stick with a marketing strategy that offers sustainable results. Based on what we have discussed, SEO is the right option for this.
While it doesn’t give immediate traffic to sites, effective SEO campaigns can continue to drive traffic as it grows organically. Paid marketing doesn’t give you the peace of mind you get in utilizing SEO campaigns as the high ranking of your site or your visibility on search engines stops as soon as you discontinue the paid ads.
SEO, as a more sustainable marketing method, can help dominate a segment of the market in the long run without burning a hole in your pocket. While you may still incur some costs in optimizing your content and website, your efforts will remain even after paying for the optimization. Unlike SEM campaigns, you cease to exist in the first page of the SERP once you stopped paying for the campaign.
SEO and SEM: Which One Should You Focus on First?
SEM and SEO campaigns both incur costs. However, as mentioned earlier, SEO is essentially a good marketing medium to increase the relevance of your post or website. Thus, you need it if you want to be significant to your chosen niche in the long run.
On the other hand, SEM is simply an optional approach that businesses may still use. SEM campaigns only work if you continue paying for ad space. SEO campaigns, on the other hand, are like investments; you pay for your site to be optimized once and you wait to reap the benefits in the long run.
What you should choose first between SEM and SEO will mainly depend on your preference and specific set of goals. SEM campaigns put your site on the first page of the SERP right off the bat. If that is your main goal, then going for SEM first might be best especially if you want to gather site traffic instantly. Paid marketing campaigns will give immediate results.
On the other hand, if your main purpose is to increase your relevance in your chosen niche and grow your site organically, then SEO is the ideal choice for you. What you simply need to think about in choosing which medium to focus on first is whether you need instant or relevant results in the long run.
SEO and SEM: Are There Benefits in Combining These 2 Strategies?
A lot of people’s notion of SEO and SEM is that the two are entirely separate things which cannot overlap or work together at some point. Despite the strategic difference between SEO and SEM, combining organic and paid search marketing strategies can also be beneficial. They work for the same goal which is to generate traffic to your website by having your post appear on the first page in search engine results. Often, these two marketing methods is a balancing act.
Here are four of the major benefits you can reap when you double your marketing efforts by using both SEM and SEO simultaneously.
- Website Visibility
Since both SEM and SEO campaigns work to increase a site’s visibility, using both simultaneously increases the chances of having a high ranking in search engine results significantly.
Working on both organic and paid search listings can double your traffic, thus increasing your site’s visibility by twice as much. This combined advertising strategy is especially helpful if you are aiming for competitive keywords.
Being successful on both fronts can even give you higher visibility and ultimately, better returns.
- Double the Keyword Data
With both SEM and SEO campaigns running, the data of keywords to be analyzed is doubled. Simultaneously using both mediums can help you test and identify which organic and paid keywords are guaranteed to be the most effective.
- Fight Against Negative PR
The internet is full of a different kind of content and publications that are not always positive or good. However, combining SEO efforts to paid marketing makes an excellent damage control by pushing negative content to the lower pages of search engine results. Through SEO, you can maintain the relevance of your on-site content while SEM campaigns are in the process of generating the targeted traffic that you are aiming for.
- Test Organic Keywords with SEM Ads
One of the best examples of SEM and SEO working together is by using SEM ads to test organic keyword strategy as it evolves. This process can provide instant results on how useful the organic keywords are.
Testing the best ranking keywords in paid advertising is easier as it allows customization. Once you have gathered the most effective keywords in your SEM campaigns, you can use this data to optimize your organic advertising. That way, even if your SEM campaign ends, the ranking you have or has achieved using the keywords will remain on your SEO campaigns for quite some time.
There are many ways wherein using both SEM and SEO strategies complement each other. If you want to achieve both short-term and long-term results, you might want to consider combining SEM and SEO efforts for your site.
Being aware of the strategic difference between SEO and SEM as well as the methods and processes involved in each of them can help you identify what will work best for your business. The bottom line is that despite the operational variances they have, each SEM and SEO campaign can be an effective medium for marketing in their own right when used efficiently and correctly.
However, there is also the opportunity to combine both strategic efforts. Using SEO and SEM together can double the chances of getting that first page ranking on SERPs. This is, after all, your ultimate goal in using either only one or both of these mediums.
In summary, SEO and SEM should not be treated as two different marketing mediums that can only operate separately from one another. Instead, it is better to view these two marketing tactics as traffic-driving strategies which aim to achieve the same goal, and that is to optimize online presence and get as much SERP visibility as possible.