Finding the difference between SEO and SEM

Rochelle Lowe

Rochelle Lowe

Getting to know the digital space can be complicating. You just get a handle on the backend of your website, and then you hear people talking about ‘search marketing.’

Search marketing is a way for your business to be noticed through both paid and unpaid efforts through SEO and SEM.

So what is SEO?

To put it simply, SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ and it’s a way for your business to get organic traffic from search results on search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

All big search engines like the above have search results where web pages and content are ranked based on what the search engine considers to be the most useful, relevant and valuable to a user. You can’t pay a search engine to have your web pages rank highly in organic search results.

If you can get it right, SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways to market your business online and in the long-term.

How does SEO work?

Generally, there are three pillars that you need to focus on to get SEO right.

• Onsite SEO: Creating useful and optimised content that helps search engines see your website as a valuable source that people want to find.

• Offsite SEO: Attracting high-quality backlinks (links from other people’s site back to yours) to build your website’s reputation and authority. Great content is the driving factor for attracting natural links to your site.

• Technical SEO: Paying attention to site speed, mobile friendliness and linking structure to ensure your site is as crawlable and indexable as possible.

Now that we have established what SEO stands for, let’s chat about SEM.

What is SEM?

SEM stands for ‘Search Engine Marketing’, and unlike SEO, it’s mainly the process of gaining traffic through purchasing ad spots on search engines. SEM is often referred to as ‘paid advertising’, ‘pay-per-click’ or ‘paid search.’

It’s almost globally agreed, the most popular paid search platform that is used by search marketers is Google Adwords, but ‘paid search’ as an umbrella term can also refer to advertising on major social networks like Facebook.

How to target potential customers with SEM

Customer targeting with paid advertising gets more and more sophisticated by the second.

Let’s pretend you’re a beautician in Balmain. Here are some paid advertising tips that may help you.

1. Target potential customers by location

Push ads to people in the Balmain local area so they’re aware of your business, or push ads to people in Sydney’s inner west to capture the attention of an even larger pool.

2. Target potential customers by behaviour

There are a few things you can do here. You can remarket to people who have already visited your website. Perhaps they browsed but were too busy at the time to make an enquiry, so remarket to them with advertising to jog their memory.

Should these services ever be combined?

The benefit of using SEM is that it’s quick and the effects are immediate. You can jump right in and connect with your audience straight away. This is especially good if you’re running a sale, have a special offer or want to reach a very specific market.

SEO, on the other hand, is a way for your website to appear organically on a search engine by improving its relevance and authority for the main things your business does.

SEO is a long-term strategy for helping customers find you all the time, while SEM allows you to have a more agile strategy when trying to attract customers. And when combined, SEO and SEM deliver maximum visibility!

Phone: 1300 338 310   Regal Professional Centre, Level 1/118 Main St, Mittagong