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SEO VS SEM: What Do They Both Mean And Why Does It Matter To You?

search engine marketing

Posted On August 12, 2019

If you’re responsible for the sales and marketing at your organization, you have probably heard of both.  Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (or SEM) are two search marketing techniques frequently deployed by most businesses.  Search marketing is a pivotal component to almost any business’ online success this day and age and can be a major contributor to increased sales.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is defined by Moz as, “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”  In other words, it’s the process of maximizing the traffic your website receives through unpaid or free (organic) business listings.  Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is simply purchasing this traffic through paid search listings.  Here are three important reasons every business should have an effective search marketing strategy:

Brand awareness & lead generation

According to a study at the end of 2017, Google receives over 60,000 searches per second on any given day.  30% of mobile searches are related to a location, meaning if your site isn’t optimized to mobile or local search, those individuals searching will not find your business.  It is essential for a business to be easily searchable these days.  Not only for customers searching for your business specifically, but potential customers not searching for your business specifically, but looking for a business just like yours or a broad search of your industry.

Ahead of the competition

If two businesses are selling the same goods or services, then the search engine optimized website is likely to get more online leads because their business will show first in relevant keyword search results.  According to SiteCentre, the first organic listing receives 19.3% of clicks on desktop and 27.7% of clicks on mobile.  In competitive digital landscapes locally, such as real estate or insurance agents, it will be practically impossible for a business to show up on the first page of a Google search, let alone rank in the top 5 without some type of SEO strategy.

With SEM, businesses can pay to be ahead of the competition with pay-per-click advertising.  You read it correctly, you only pay when you get clicks to your website.  SEM allows you to specifically dictate to search engines which keywords you would like to be found under and you can pay for your business to rank at your desired position on the page.  We have all seen these before when a Google search is performed and the top few listings have the green “ad” icon next to it.  These are all paid listings through SEM.

Improved website user experience

Not only can SEO be an incredible lead generator through search engines, but it can improve the user experience and usability of a website.  For example, making sure your website is mobile optimized to build better SEO also delivers a much better experience on a mobile device to your web visitors.  This is important because, in 2018, 52.2% of all worldwide online traffic was generated through mobile phones (Statista, 2018).  Also, creating a pleasant, thoughtful user experience on your website will increase brand perception, as well as desired actions such as bookmarking and return visits.  

So which one is it?

You probably saw this answer coming, but the correct answer for most businesses is both.  A solid search marketing strategy involves both SEO and SEM.  The two tactics work perfectly in tandem and will undoubtedly serve as the top referral sources for any business, along with word-of-mouth and social media.  If working with another party to implement a search marketing strategy for your organization, keep in mind in October 2018, Google accounted for 88.6 percent of the mobile search market in the United States.  Therefore, it’s important to work with a Google Certified Expert who can assist you with your strategy.  

My name is Robert Royer, President of Building Brands Marketing & Consulting.  I am Google Ads Certified in Search, Display, and Mobile and I have vast experience in large scale marketing campaigns for businesses.  Building Brands Marketing & Consulting is a full-service marketing consulting company serving businesses in Victoria, TX and the surrounding Gulf Coast region. 

Our process is designed to empower your brand and outfit your business with the marketing tools needed for you to succeed. We work with you to understand your business objectives and we offer strategies that will achieve your marketing objectives. Talk to us today about how we can support your growth, limit your turnover, and put you on a solid track toward success and profit.

Written by Robert Royer

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