As a business owner, you may be wondering if you would be better off investing in SEO vs SEM. SEO stands for Search Engine optimization and refers to organic search results your company gets from traffic sent to them from the search engines due to how well you optimize your website and all its content. SEM is for search engine marketing and refers to the traffic your company receives from paid search results.
SEO and SEM are both important in the success of your on-page and off-page marketing efforts. But, many companies are unsure on where they should put their time and money to acquire more success. In this post, we will discuss how each makes a difference in your online marketing campaigns and if both can work together so you can get the best results on SERPs.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization
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SEO focuses entirely on ranking to get organic results from optimizing your website and the articles you add to it. Google uses algorithms to rank each page of your website. Google ranks pages using on-page SEO, off-page SEO, Technical SEO, and User Interaction Signals using over 200 different ranking signals. Depending on how you rank in these four areas depends on how much organic traffic your website or webpage receives.
How On-Page SEO Works
Keywords play a significant role in how on-page SEO works. When you set up your website and add new content to it, you can choose words that you think best describe what the page or article is about and enter them in the metadata to help Google figure out what it is all about and send traffic accordingly.
When potential readers enter those keywords in the search boxes in the browsers, since Google has categorized your content previously, they know exactly where to send the reader to give them the most relevant answers to their searches.
To help this happen, you will want to add your keywords in your title tag, meta descriptions, and webpage URL and sprinkle them throughout your content to help Google rank your page. You will also want to add alt tags to your images. Carefully optimizing your SEO will help move you up in the rankings and improve the chances readers find you.
What is Off-Page SEO?
Google also looks for high-quality backlinks to your site. Google considers backlinks to your site as a sign that readers trust your website as credible and valuable. These authority signals help rank your website based on how often viewers come from other locations that Google sees as having authority over your site.
Credible sites often end with .edu, .gov. or .org. When someone backlinks to your site from one of these, Google reads that to mean that your site is trusted. If you have links from sites that Google sees as untrustworthy, backlinks can harm your rankings with Google.
Why is Technical SEO Important?
In addition to backlinks and keywords, Google is concerned with many other things considered technical SEO. These involve things such as how quickly your page loads because readers do not like waiting. Most users will stay on a page for about 37 seconds before deciding whether to move on or read more.
Google looks for elements on your website that it thinks are critical to readers like do you have a proper contact page? Technical SEO is crucial if you want to make sure the Google bots and other search engines can read and categorize your pages to rank them.
What are User Interaction Signals?
User interaction signals let Google know how well your page rates are compared to other sites for things like bounce rate. They look at things like if your keywords seem to fit the topics on your page. Are people staying longer on your site to check out what value you offer them, or are they moving on quickly?
SEM or Search Engine Marketing
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SEM encompasses SEO and PPC advertising, or pay per click or paid traffic. Since SEM uses both organic and paid reader interactions, it tends to improve your rankings quicker than if you only use SEO. An SEM agency can work with your business to help you rank higher more quickly using SEO and pay-per-click ads.
SEM involves a lot of different components, such as bidding. Bidding is used with PPC no matter which search engine you placed the ads on. The ads use bids to see where you appear compared to other ads. The highest bidder generally appears above all the other ads.
If someone clicks your ad, the amount you pay is the amount of the bid. This is called cost-per-click or CPC.
Another important part of SEM is the quality score. Google tries to place ads where they are most relevant. For instance, a woman looking for a new pair of shoes will likely find no interest in an advertisement on a cordless drill. In contrast, someone looking at tools will be much more likely to click on the ad for the drill.
Google bases a combination of the click-through rate and the quality of your landing page plus your Google AD quality score to rate your ad. The higher your score, the less you will have to pay for the ad.
Google considers your ad copy for SEM. The better your copy, the better your click-through rate will be. If you have a copy that sells, you will pay less than a person with a poor copy.
Google focuses on providing its customers with the best user experience. If your site offers the best value to the readers, you will move up quicker in the rankings than someone who does not.
SEM or SEO
It all comes down to how quickly you want to be on page one of the search engine research pages. Organic traffic from SEO alone can take several months to even a few years to move up to the first page of rankings on Google. If you properly use SEO, you will see results start to move up in a couple of months, but progress is gradual.
If you want to move faster, you should consider using SEM. You will still get the organic flow since SEM uses SEO to move up in the rankings. With paid or PPC added to the SEO, your chances of moving to the first page rankings will go much faster than just SEO.
Zara Dumayas is Invicta Agency’s partnership manager with experience in search engine, website design, and social media marketing. She manages multiple clients in Perth, WA and you can easily reach her via Twitter: @Zara_Invicta
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