Search Engine Optimization (SEO) VS Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

21 February 2022 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) VS Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Are they similar? What’s the difference between those? What is suitable for my business? Can a single person handle all these?

You will find your answers here! Start reading to know more.

1. Introduction
2. Differences between SEO & SEM
a. Strategy
b. Results speed
c. Cost
3. What does your business need?
4. Summary

Let’s put it in a simple way. Remember these 2 main keys below:

1. Google search results are divided into paid search results and organic search results.
2. SEM is a broad term that includes SEO and PPC used to get traffic from search engines.

In short, the main difference between SEO  and SEM is that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) focuses on optimizing a website to get organic search traffic. Meanwhile, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has an objective to generate traffic and visibility from organic and paid searches. 
Keep these in mind as we dive deeper into the differences.

Differences between SEO & SEM

a. Strategy 

Since SEO yields organic results by ranking their website in the search engine result pages, the strategies used are on-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical SEO, and User Interaction Signals.

- On-page SEO:  refers to all measures that are directly within the website in order to improve its position in the search rankings. This uses keyword optimization techniques on-page elements such as meta description, title tags, content, webpage URL, and internal links.

- Off-page SEO: refers to actions taken outside of your website to influence search engine results pages (SERPs) rankings. This involves building high-quality backlinks to your website. Links from other reputable websites to your website or endorsements from people or organizations effectively "vouch" for the quality of your content.

- Technical SEO: Google and other search engines (Bing, Yahoo) need to be able to find, crawl, render, and index the pages on your website. Technical optimization involves secure site pages, mobile-optimized, free of duplicate content, fast loading, site architecture, and many others.

- User interaction signals: After clicking a result in a search engine, if users immediately return to Google, then this is a signal that the website does not fit the search query of the user. Search engines make use of these behavioral patterns of users to establish your website ranking in search results. Examples of user signals are bounce rate, click-through rate, percentage of return visitors, and time on site.

SEM is an umbrella term for SEO and Pay Per Click (PPC). Since the strategy for SEO has been discussed, we move further to know more about PPC.

PPC is where advertisers pay a fee each time their ads are being clicked to a publisher.
PPC has a few features to generate successful paid ads in search such as bidding, quality score, and ad copy.

Bidding: The ranking of ads is proportional to the bidding amount. If you’re the highest bidder, your ads appear above all other ads. Hence, the advertiser pays the bid amount when someone clicks on the ad which is known as cost per click (CPC).

Quality score: It is a diagnostic tool meant to give you a sense of the ad quality compared to other advertisers. Ad quality is calculated based on 4 criteria: expected click-through rate, landing page experience, ad relevance, and use of Google advertising extensions. 

Adware is the method used to determine the ad winner. 
Bid amount ✖ Ad quality score = Winner (Ad rank).
Even though the bidding amount will be the highest but if it has a poor ad quality score, the ad rank score would be less.

Ad copy: A good ad copy gives a higher click-through rate which eventually gives a good quality score.

 b. Results speed

Since the goal of SEO is to obtain organic traffic, it consumes a lot of time to yields results especially if the site is very new. Ahref analysis found that it takes an average of 2 years to obtain ranking on the first page of the search engine. However, if best SEO practices are implemented, you can start seeing some results within a few months.

Vice versa, if SEM is focused in terms of PPC, you can start getting results instantly as the name says paid search ads.

 c. Cost

SEO is free website traffic where it costs you nothing when someone clicks on your site in the organic search results. SEO gives a steady growth of traffic with the strategy built over time.

In contrast, SEM involves PPC which is paid advertising to get results and appear in a certain position. The cost is depending on your budget on how much you’re willing to spend. BUT once you stop paying, the traffic goes to zero.

However, with SEO, once you’re on rank, you don’t have to invest a lot of money to maintain the current ranking.

This is where SEO and SEM are complementary.

According to Digital Marketing Institute,

“SEO is the foundation for good SEM and when you have each set up properly, you have a better chance of getting high-quality traffic and improving conversion rates.”

What does your business need?

Your business needs SEO if

- You’re a startup or small business with a limited marketing budget
- You can a high-quality content on topics that customers search on Google, Yahoo, and Bing
- You are willing to wait for 6-12 months to see organic traffic rolling in from search engines
- You’re good link-building strategies to get other sites to link to you

Your business needs PPC if
- You have a consistent ad budget monthly to figure out what combination of keyword targeting, ad copy, landing pages, and bids work best for you.
- You can manage an Adwords account to make decisions on how to get the most results from the ads.

SEO and PPC for business
- SEO and PPC are both required together to grow the business and leverage a successful campaign.
- But if your business is unable to focus on both, it is better to choose either one depending on your needs as discussed above.

To thrive in today's digital world, you need to invest time and resources into a smart digital marketing strategy that incorporates SEO and SEM tactics.

You need a team to handle both SEO and SEM since it will be too much for a single person to handle all aspects of digital marketing and it’s advised to pick any one that you’re confident with and suits your business.

If you’re alone and wondering how to do that or where to start, get connected with Optisage Technology.

Our digital team is proficient in SEO and SEM. We're ready to help you attract more qualified visitors to your web pages.

Need more info? Questions?

Connect with us to find out more about the Digital Marketing training courses/workshop details.
Call +607 358 5462 or
WhatsApp us for Digital Marketing Training CourseWhatsapp Us +6011 1144 5462