Every business wants to rank #1 on search engines, but we all know it isn’t easy to achieve. There are two main ways to accomplish this goal – SEO and SEM. First, let me explain each acronym, and then we will discuss the differences between the two. Next, I’ll explain why it’s crucial to use both.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It refers to strategies that help a website naturally show up online, or the term is organic. This is an essential strategy for all companies with websites. It will drive website traffic and grow your visibility online by increasing your chances of appearing in the search engines such as Google or Bing. Google uses over 200 factors in determining ranking placement. The top-ranking factors can be grouped into four main categories:

  • Quality Content/Keyword research
    • Content is King! Use words and phrases that your customers type into search engines that are relevant to your business. An example would be for a restaurant; you would use words such as food, drink, and dining. It is also essential to use “long-tail” keywords. This means using phrases such as “best restaurant in Texas.” Be careful not to over use or stuff your content with keywords. Quality content should read naturally and not come off like an infomercial.
  • On-Page SEO
    • Strategically placing keywords on your pages.
    • Crafting compelling titles that will grab your audience’s attention, such as “We use the best ingredients for your meal.”
    • Using description URLs such as www.companyname.com/healthy-options.
    • Optimizing your images for faster page loading.
  • Off-Page SEO
    • To rank your page in Google, you need to do things outside your site. The best approach is high-quality backlinks. This means having other websites link to your website. An example is being part of an association such as the National Restaurant Association, which lists your company and the company’s website. This is a credible website that now links back to your site.
  • Technical SEO
    • Content on this page can be found, crawled, and indexed by search engines. Therefore, having a good content strategy is essential to be ranked higher. One of the possibilities is having a great blog that discusses your products and how they relate to the industry. An example would be “Healthy options that taste great.”

What is SEM?

The term SEM refers to search engine marketing or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. In this approach, search engines are accessed through paid methods. On most search engines some paid search results are displayed above the organic results.

SEM advertising in Google/Bing involves:

  • Keyword research
    • Researching keywords for SEM is about – knowing your customers’ search criteria and the cost of each keyword. For example, the cost of “restaurant” is more than of “Mexican restaurant.”
  • Bid setting
    • The bid setting determines how much you’re willing to pay Google for an ad click. In the event that your competitors outbid you and have equally (or more) relevant ads, Google won’t show your ad much, and you won’t receive many clicks.
  • Ad creation
    • Ad creation is where you decide what your ad will say and where it will send people.
  • Audience targeting
    • In audience targeting, you determine who should see your ad. A lot of information can be used to target people – such as who they are, what they are interested in, where they are, etc. An example would be your prospects’ industry, type of food, drink, ribs, etc.

SEO vs. SEM: How Long It Takes to See Results

The main difference between SEO and SEM is speed.

As you can probably guess, SEO takes more time than SEM, but it is still an essential strategy for your website. If you use the methods above, you can start to see some organic results within a few months or sooner.

You can now see results almost immediately if you focus on SEM and PPC. It is possible to run your ad in the morning and start getting traffic and conversions by afternoon. But that doesn’t mean the conversions will be HOT leads. Getting a positive ROI can take months of tweaking your ads.

Should you focus 100% of your digital marketing efforts on SEO? Or should you combine SEO and PPC and launch a full-on search marketing campaign? After reading this article, I hope you see that you should use both.

There is a common misconception that SEO and SEM are completely different channels that cannot be combined, or that they are interchangeable.

You must understand the purpose of each of these as part of your broader marketing strategy and figure out how to use them together to drive success and gain a competitive advantage.

Many companies have entire marketing departments working on digital marketing, but hiring an expert is recommended if this is not feasible for your company. It will save you time and money and show “the right” conversions faster. Siebert Consulting Group are experts in SEO and SEM. For a free consultation, please email us at contact.us@siebertcg.com or visit our website at www.siebertcg.com.


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