The Write Writing's simple guide to SEO & SEM
Negotiating the minefield of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is something that every website and business has to undergo to increase the retention and attraction of potential customers and clients.
This not only means attracting clients with the right product but also getting your product or brand out there for the world to see. And if you are on page 55 of the search rankings then it is going to be a difficult proposition to expect someone to trawl through Google search results and pick your business.
What's more, to be able to do this on a limited marketing budget is going to need progressing from an Internet marketing novice to at least learning the basics of both SEO and SEM so you can make that marketing budget work smarter as well as harder.
For novices who have just set up their website or business this can all be a little daunting, however here are a few simple tips and explanations that will help you get the ball rolling and show you the differences between search engine optimization SEO and search engine marketing SEM, so when you speak to your agency, marketing expert or freelancer, you know what you are talking about and can make educated decisions about which one you want to choose for the right reasons.
What is SEM and how does it differ from SEO?
SEM is essentially an umbrella term that includes paid advertising (Facebook adverts and placements, Google, Bing and other search engine adverts and inclusions) and SEO. That said, how does one choose between the two as it sounds like SEM is the more in depth and comprehensive marketing strategy of the two?
SEM, though a much broader marketing strategy, is expensive - in fact, it is far more expensive than just plain, good old SEO. What SEO does is use your own website to generate a higher search engine ranking. How does it do this? Simply put, through the use of keywords inserted into the text of your website - keywords that are directly relevant to what you are promoting on your website. Search engine crawlers, programs which "read" everything on your website will go through every page and index it for future searches based on relevant material. There is one caveat, this doesn't mean that your website is chock full of certain keywords as search engines and their crawlers are programmed to lower or even, at times, ban those sites that are blatantly misusing keywords. You must say something with the words on your site, not just repeat certain words without creative content in between.
SEM on the other hand is more expensive, but a much faster way of generating leads through far higher search rankings and views (though nowadays we all know that Viewer Metrics do not mean very much in real terms as the majority of people view but are never converted to a sale, not to mention bots or programs that can increase views without a real person ever seeing your ad). However, paid advertising and inclusions only last as long as you are paying the likes of Google and Facebook. When you stop, so does your higher search engine ranking.
Why SEO is often more effective - 2 Key Facts to remember
SEO, though the slower and cheaper of the two (as well as being a part of SEM), guarantees you organic growth and longevity in two ways:
FACT: Keywords and ads increase in your rankings. However, just plain keywords are useless as whoever lands on your page will find it useless unless you are imparting knowledge about something: it is a proven and well documented fact that the majority of customers and clients prefer sites that are informative and have creative content;
FACT: SEM will get you the views, but converting those views to real customers requires written content because once they are on your site, as mentioned in FACT 1, if there is nothing for them to read, learn from or be engaged by, then they will always be one click away from leaving. Moreover, an engaging site that shows off your products, services and specialities and sets you apart from the crowd will always continue to attract new customers and help build your brand.
So create great content for your site and watch those numbers rise steadily as opposed to just spike because nowadays content is the key to success no matter which route you decide to take.