SEM vs. SEO: Search Engine Marketing As Part Of Your Digital Strategy
by Josette Millar
SEM and SEO are just two acronyms for the same thing, right?
But don’t worry; if you thought this was the case, you’re far from alone. It’s a common misconception that search engine optimization and search engine marketing are the same thing. In fact, they’re two mutually exclusive parts working toward the common goal of increasing a company’s traffic and building its brand and reputation.
So what’s the difference?
In short, SEO produces fruits from your efforts while SEM is an effort of paid promotions.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of producing a website that users, and ultimately web crawlers, will find worthy of a visit. You’re utilizing your current information and site to make an optimal experience with the ultimate goal of ranking highly when someone searches for (((enter relevant keywords here))) in various search engines. The focus largely revolves around:
- Unique and valuable content
- User-friendly navigation
- Earning traffic through unpaid efforts
- Proper hyperlinking
Search engine marketing, or SEM, on the other hand, is primarily based on monetary marketing efforts. In other words, you’re buying the attention of your customers through paid advertising and search listings. Search engine marketing isn’t focused on helping consumers find you because of keywords that they’re already searching for; instead, it targets your audience, based on defined demographics and interests, and advertises your business to those whose interests will likely be piqued by proper ad placement. SEM includes the following features:
- Pay-per-Click (PPC)
- Mobile search advertising
Let’s put it into perspective using a good old brick-and-mortar example as concrete evidence of this abstract explanation.
Your business is located on a lot with 10,000 other businesses that do exactly what you do. Some of them had the worst locations on the block, and very few visitors came to see them because the front door was inaccessible. You were smart and spent time surveying the spaces so you understood which of your competitors were being visited, and you took steps to move into one of those prime spots. We’ll call this optimization. You used what you had already created and branded to position yourself into a more accessible position in the marketplace.
Now that you have an amazing location, you’re doing well with people that were already en route to your store because you’ve finagled prime real estate. That’s great news, but right now, current customers aren’t paying all of that expensive rent. You need new people who are driving down the interstate to suddenly realize they need what you provided, too – even though they hadn’t even thought about it before they saw your brilliant billboard proudly towering over your competitors’ stores. In cyberspace, this proud promotional piece would be an example of your search engine marketing.
SEO and SEM work well to complement each other, and when used in conjunction with one another, they can do amazing things. That said, they work well together because they are two completely different functions under the marketing umbrella. The total sum of your efforts, when executed well, will enhance the look and feel of your website, thus boosting your SEO, while driving traffic to your stunning site with the help of paid SEM efforts.
Need help integrating search engine marketing into your digital marketing strategy? No matter how much or how little you understand about search engine marketing, the one thing you need to know is how important this option can be to your business. Request a free Marketing Review and Assessment from Sheffield Media Group, and let us help you get your on your way to a more efficient marketing strategy.