Technological advances and the advent of the world wide web has changed the way humans communicate. Rather than relying on the limited options available to us within driving distance, we seek out information online. This change in communication is why an understanding of SEO vs SEM (PPC- Paid Search) or paid search is essential to anyone who has (or is thinking of starting) a business.

Having an in-depth knowledge of these key phrases is only part of the process. Proper implementation is crucial to the overall profitability of the organization and its sustainability in the digital market of today.

Let’s take a look at what each acronym stands for and how they apply to your business digital marketing strategy.

SEO vs SEM (PPC- Paid Search): What Is the Difference?

Every business has or should have an Internet marketing strategy in place, long before they open their doors for business. This marketing plan should cover every area where your target demographic is placing its attention.

Before the age of the internet, advertising was a very physical (and rather expensive) part of business ownership. For proper advertising, you had to make sure your name was everywhere.

These methods, while successful, were limited and costly. From the classifieds to the cloud, the evolution of communication has changed the way we do business and digital marketing on search engines like Google ( including SEO and SEM ) is now at the forefront of any successful company.

Search Engine Optimization ( SEO) Definition

Just like any well-developed plan, search engine optimization or SEO optimization is just one path on the roadmap of search engine marketing. Paid searches are an incredible asset to any strategy; however, you need more than just paid advertising to get you to the top.

so, what is SEO? Search engine optimization (SEO) is the act of modifying your website and online content to organically boost your ranking in search engines like Google and Bing. The algorithms used by search engines are constantly changing and SEO is the method by which companies are able to keep up with these ever-changing demands.

There are three arms of SEO: content marketing, SEO Link building and the On-page SEO optimization of website data. Content marketing deals with the type of content that is placed on your website, Linkbuilding refers to off-page SEO through backlinks to your website, while the on-page optimization of analytics data involves meta titles, meta tags, website speed, and other search engine crawler readable data.

Search Engine Marketing ( SEM)/PPC Definition

When a potential consumer has a question regarding a product or service, the first thing they do is go online, place a few keywords into a search engine, and click on whatever links the search engine kicks back. The point of SEM/PPC ( Pay Per Click / Paid Search marketing) is to ensure that your ads/ website links appear in front of your target audience and for you to get charged when hey actually interact/click on your ads.

Simply speaking SEM/PPC is an online advertising effort on the part of your company to use paid promotions to put your company in front of potential customers.

There are many PPC marketing formats that you can use, including the following:

  • Text ads
  • Video ads
  • Image ads
  • Social media ads
  • Remarketing ads

These advertising methods are used on a myriad of platforms, such as Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others.

Launching a PPC ad campaign can be the first tactic in your arsenal of SEM strategies. Targeting potential consumers based on geography or industry can help you pinpoint those who are more likely to make a purchase.

Keywords are at the heart of PPC, and a bid strategy is what keeps them going. The keywords used in your ad campaign are what help connect your ad to a particular search. Your bid is what helps get that ad in front of the potential consumer.

Now that we know the difference, let’s take a look at how to optimize your website for SEO vs SEM/PPC marketing.

Your Website SEO Optimization

Two categories affect your website when it comes to search engine ranking: on-page factors and off-page factors.

On-Page SEO Factors

On-Page Factors are items that are under your control and can help your website to become more search engine friendly. Let’s take a look at what you can do to help boost your on-page SEO.

SEO Content Marketing Is Key

No matter what you do, if the material that is displayed on your website is not written and presented in a useful way, you will have a difficult time ranking your site on SERPs ( Search Engine Result Pages) Organically. You must provide more than just a product or service. You must also provide value.

If you are not updating your website content regularly, most search engines will minimize the crawling of your website and assume you contribute little to no value to the consumer. So, if it’s been a hot minute since you’ve updated your website, relevant content creation would be the first place to start.

Structuring the URL on your Webpages

On your website, every page and link will have a URL. When you create the URL on the backend, make sure that you are using keywords that are common in your industry within the URL.

Title Tags of your Website Pages Mater

Every web page that you have on your business website needs to have a title tag. These tags are used when defining the title of the search listing. Keep it short and sweet, and always include keywords that you are trying to rank for without over doing it.

Check your Keyword Density

This metric helps to identify how much a particular keyword appears on your page. You want to go for a ranking of 1.25-1.5 for true optimization.

Website XML Sitemap

An often overlooked portion of the website, the XML sitemap, is crucial in helping search engine bots to index the pages on your website. Be sure to have this as it makes it much easier to rank for your desired keywords.

CSS Validation

This factor helps ensure that your website runs free of bugs that could cause needless crashes and frustrated consumers.

Image Alt Tags

When using images on your web page, always make sure to label them with keywords pertaining to your product or services.

Internal backLinks

You should always strive to link other articles that are relevant to each other within the content itself. Not in a way that could be perceived as spam, but in a way that provides value to the client. for example, here is an internal backlink to our On-page optimization services.

Off-Page SEO Factors

Off-Page Factors include items that pertain to tactics not necessarily controlled by you or done on your website. Let’s take a look at a few of the most important ones.

SEO Link Building / Backlinks

Backlinks from quality websites are a great way to boost your authority in your industry. The more other reputable webpages link back to you, the higher your domain authority and the higher you would rank on SERPs.

To accomplish this, you will need to enlist the help of multiple SEO backlink building services like Guest posting on other websites, creating citations on relevant directories and many more that you can read up on in our Ultimate Guide to SEO backlinks. Another quick way to get this accomplished is to include your website into your signature when posting on forums. Each time you post that link is listed on another website, thus helping with promotion.

Keep it relevant. Link schemes and other tactics are banned by Google guidelines. Optimizing your site for SEO is one thing, but trying to use shady tactics that are the SEO equivalent of get-rich-quick schemes will only hurt you in the long run.

NAP Citations on Local Directories

NAP citations are ideal when looking up how to rank locally. The more places you have your business name, address, and phone number linking back to you, the better. So hit up those sites such as Google’s My Business, or one of the other thousand business listing sites, and get to typing. You can also use Citation building services to take care of this pain sticking link building strategy.

Brand Mentions

In an unknown aspect of off-page SEO, Google has admitted to noticing brand mentions in content. In their patent, they infer that their system can detect those mentions from third-party blogs that may not necessarily have a link back to the site.

Often, people will use brands as an example, proving that they are a respected resource of knowledge. How heavy this weighs on the search engine bots is unclear, but it’s good to know that Google is looking out for those mentions.

In every marketing strategy, there must be a section that discusses your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) also known as Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC). But before you can market on a search engines, you must understand the basics.

What Is a Search Engine?

Understanding Search Engine Optimization vs Search Engine Marketing and how they can work both independently and together requires a basic understanding of how search engines find and rank websites.

When a person goes online and pulls up the search engine, whether it’s Google, Bing, Yahoo, or one of the other many search engines, and they type in their questions, the search engine scours the internet to come up with the most relevant results to their query.

Optimizing Your Website For SEM/PPC Marketing

SEM/PPC is a way for businesses to effectively reach new customers, increase their profits, and lower their overall costs of advertising. SEM/PPC is a go-to for marketers as the results are measurable and trackable, they’re quick to implement, see results from and you are in full control.

Running a PPC campaign is fairly simple for an experienced marketer:

  • Choose the platform for your PPC efforts.
    • Twitter/ Facebook/ Google/ GDN/ LinkedIn
  • Choose the type of ad
    • Search/Video/App/Image
  • Determine your budget and bidding strategy
    • Cost per click/ cost per view/ cost per acquisition
  • Customize your search terms, audience and create ad groups
  • Decide where your customers will land once they click on your ad.
  • Track results

A Roadmap for SEM and SEM Success

We have all heard the saying, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” This phrase is more than just a saying you found on Pinterest or stitched on a pillow. This phrase holds for millions of business owners around the world. For a business to succeed, one must implement an Internet marketing strategy that is targeted towards your key demographics, has clear and measurable metrics, and is fluid enough to change as the situation changes.

Marketing your company or product to increase profitability is the overall goal of your marketing strategy and should be based on your market research. The internet is where you will accomplish this task.

The Evolution of Internet Marketing

At one point, the internet was a small place reserved for the select few businesses to exchange information, emails, etc. Now, thanks to the natural course of evolution and the advent of various platforms, the internet is an integral part of the way we live.

Recent studies show that 76% of the U.S. and even more Canadian consumers shop online. To ignore that would be to, in essence, shut your doors to a large portion of potential customers.

Is Digital Marketing Worth It?

The internet allows businesses, who were once limited by the radius their shoppers were willing to travel, and the inability to reach new markets across the world. By 2023, the same study mentioned above has calculated that there will be 300 million Online shoppers in the United States alone. Even if you limited your e-commerce efforts to the United States, that is a much larger pool of people than those that live within driving distance of your physical location.

So how do you reach those people? How do you market your business to the hundreds of millions of people searching online for the type of product or service that you sell?

You are not the only person on the internet that is selling these types of products or services, so how do you stand out?

SEO and SEM Marketing Go Hand in Hand

Both SEO and SEM/ PPC have their place in your overall marketing strategy. Any good business person or marketer will know that in order to truly optimize your marketing strategy, you must include both and use them accordingly.

Search engine marketing and search engine optimization should be considered two sides of the same coin. SEO is what helps marketers lay a solid foundation for SEM, which is why you cannot really have one without the other.

Having a website that is optimized with strong keywords, links, and relevant content is what helps the search engine marketing ads to convert potential customers into continuous customers at a much better rate and have them keep coming back instead of bouncing as soon as they land on your website.

The Bottom Line of SEO vs SEM/ Paid Search Marketing

They both have their place in the sun; it all depends on what you need at this moment. If you are an established business with years of experience, then chances are you do not have to put as much focus into SEM. However, if you are just starting out and need the exposure, then you will need to look at how much you can spend when it comes to your search engine marketing and SEO.

Generally speaking, if you are a new business; you should do both at the same time and have your PPC initiatives cover the costs of your SEO marketing as it takes a while for SEO to show results. But if you can’t afford both, then definitely start with SEM to see instant results.

There are many nuances that go into SEO vs SEM, so hiring a professional to help guide you is always the right choice. For details on how we can help you get the most out of your business marketing strategy, check out our website for more information or book a 30-minute free SEO and SEM consultation with one of our none commissioned experts.