Search Engine Optimization vs Search Engine Marketing

What’s the Difference?

Search Engine Optimization vs Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are more critical than ever. Google currently holds over 91% of all search engine market share, and 93% of online searches begin with a search engine like Google Search, Yahoo, and Bing.

So what's the difference anyway?

Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your online content to be discovered through organic search results, but in order to understand how SEO works, you need to understand how search engines organize information. It's a pretty complicated process; basically, web crawlers, or "spiders," scour the web and make copies of hundreds of billions of websites, then organizes the information in a giant digital library called the Search index. It's all pretty fascinating, and you can read more about How Search Works on Google's website.

Search Engine Optimization, or "SEO," is basically the process of getting information added to this index. It involves many factors, such as the strategic placement of keywords within your content, link building, on-site SEO, and more. Google also considers other factors such as the age of your domain, number of other authoritative websites that link back to your webpage, quality of content, and hundreds of other ranking factors.

How long will it take to see results for an SEO campaigns?

Search Engine Optimization campaigns are a gradual process of improving your web presence, both on-site and off-site, and they take time to see results, especially for new sites. As more information is added to the Search index, your site's rankings will slowly increase over time. In a typical scenario, it could take anywhere from 3-6 months to start seeing any significant improvement in your rankings. Additionally, there are other companies who are always looking for ways to outrank you, so it's important to always provide fresh, new, and engaging content to your audience to consume and establish yourself as an industry leader.

Search engines like Google update their algorithms regularly and make hundreds or thousands of small changes that affect search results, and our team of experts uses a suite of advanced tools to monitor and adapt to these continual changes. We use tools like Google Search Console and the W3C Validator, just to name a few, to audit, fix & validate your website to ensure that content gets indexed properly.

...But what if you don't want to wait six months to see results? There is another way to get immediate results.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM), also referred to as PPC (Pay-Per-Click), uses paid strategies to increase search visibility. SEM allows you to get your message in front of potential customers as they search for goods or services related to your business. There are many platforms such as Google Ads, Bing Ads, Yahoo Search Ads, and even Facebook Ads if you opt to promote your business across social media networks.

Advantages and Disadvantages of SEM and PPC Campaigns

While SEM campaigns are a quick way to get to the top of search results, it can be expensive to remain there. Think of it as pay-to-play, and the minute you stop paying, the game is over. Your overall budget and cost per click (CPC) will always be a factor if you want to remain at the top. It's also important to remember that simply running an SEM campaign won't always equate to successful customer conversions.

Game Over - Insert coin to continue
SEM can feel like your playing a game, finding the right balance of money for quality leads..

Many factors influence a successful customer conversion, such as landing page quality, keyword relevance, and webpage load times. A customer can have a negative experience due to a bad website design, poorly written website copy, or slow loading times. Statistics show that 40% of internet users abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

A note about web hosting and website speed:
If you are running a business website, then it's best practice to use Managed hosting over the traditional Shared hosting providers such as GoDaddy. Managed hosting offers superior speeds and optimized resources to ensure your webpages load quickly. Check out our blog: Is Managed Website Hosting Right For Your Business? to see the advantages of Managed hosting.

In today's world, users expect instant access to information, and search engine providers like Google and Yahoo are continually working to present users with results that match their query. Both SEO and SEM provide different ways to get your message in front of users, and as more businesses move online and keywords become harder to rank for, it becomes critical to ensure that you are constantly improving your online presence, optimizing content, and improving your website.

SEO or SEM? Which one do I need?

Well, the short answer is both. SEM is not a replacement for good SEO; it can range from a quick fix to reach your audience up to a robust advertising strategy depending on your business needs and budget. Whereas, proper SEO provides long-term value to your own website content which results in higher rankings.. Both provide their own set of advantages, but used in combination; they become very powerful tools to drive business. We believe that using a combination of SEO and SEM will provide the best keyword coverage and the best marketing approach in the crowded world of online search.

Want better SEO rankings? We can help!

At Aktiv, our experts understand how search engines work. A successful SEO & SEM campaign requires careful planning to ensure that it results in a positive ROI for your business. Our experts work with you to perform keyword research, write ad copy, manage and track SEO and SEM campaigns. We partner with you and provide solutions and services to manage, maintain, and improve your existing website.

Fill out the contact form below for a free evaluation and custom SEO proposal.

by: Darrell Armstead

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