To attract the eye of your customer, search optimization is indeed the essential part of any marketing strategy. And to drive massive traffic to your website and to grow your business, you have to pick what is right for your own business. So you have two options for search optimization. You can choose either SEM which uses SEO tactics as well as other paid search advertising tactics with a goal to increase visibility or SEO which is an unpaid marketing strategy of getting only organic traffic to your website. This is no piece of cake when it comes to managing your search optimization strategy unless or until you know how to accurately compare SEM Vs SEO.
To set things on the right track let me first introduce you to what SEM and SEO actually mean.
What is SEM?
Search Engine Marketing or SEM is a paid search engine strategy to gain visibility in SERPs. The strategy includes both optimizing Ads and setting up a budget for the Ads. Not only SEM includes all the tactics of SEO like keyword optimization, indexing, and getting backlinks to get a higher ranking, it’s also buys advertising space to appear in front of searchers. So the main components of SEM are SEO and pay-per-click or PPC campaign.
What is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a marketing strategy that uses unpaid tactics to gain visibility in SERPs. Like SEM, SEO does not buy paid advertising placement but uses other organic tactics to increase traffic to your landing page. But to gain great SEO, you get to put a lot of time to keep up with Google’s constantly changing algorithm to increase visibility in SERPs. As you don’t have to buy any advertising space to get your website in front of potential customers, an SEO strategy is very much affordable.
It is essential to understand that SEO is a part of SEM, but you can never use the term interchangeably. Although they work hand in hand, they don’t mean the same thing. Unless your strategy involves both paid search marketing techniques and SEO, your search marketing tactic is not SEM.
In this blog, we are going to show some pros and cons on SEM Vs SEO and going let you decide what is best for your business.
SEM Vs SEO: Search Results
Search Engine Marketing or SEM search placements include an “Ad” designation. If your website/blog receive placement through paid Ads and SEO tactics, then it will fall into the category of SEM search results. Search results that appear on Google using SEM tactics looks different in SERPs than SEO. For example, the icon of “Ad” will appear next to the placement.
So basically, SEM search result includes ad extension. This gives it additional features like adding callouts, additional links, and phone number.
On the other hand, Search Engine Optimization or SEO search placement doesn’t include any “Ad” designation or in other words, Ad Extensions. So organic search result of your website/blog using SEO tactic doesn’t appear on Google ranking with an “Ad” icon next to it. It also doesn’t provide any facility for additional links, phone number or callouts. But it facilitates an option for displaying featured snippets in search.
SEM Vs SEO: Cost
As I have mentioned before, the concept of SEM result is based on both paid placement and SEO tactics. So that means your brand will be charged each time a user clicks on the result. This form is also known as PPC lead generation. You have to maintain a budget for the SEM search result constantly.
On the other hand, you don’t need to pay a dime for SEO search results. The method of SEO search placement depends on other tactics than paid placements. It uses On-page and Off-page SEO techniques and other unpaid methods to show its content on the top of Google ranking. So the cost is more than manageable for a tight budget.
SEM Vs SEO: Visibility
Generally, SEM search results are more costly than SEO search results. So to facilitate a manageable budget for the SEM result placement, you must target a specific kind of audience who are most likely to benefit from your website/blog. So through SEM strategies, you will show your content to a target audience based on age, location, gender, income, interest, habits, and other SEO techniques.
And for SEO search results, you don’t have such controls over who will see your posts. The SEO strategies depend on targeting a specific keyword and appealing to the search engines like Google or others. The strategies also include keyword optimization, indexing, backlinks, site speed, device friendliness, and content creation.
SEM Vs SEO: Results
SEM search results have an immediate impact. With the SEM Ads, you can put your content/website in front of your target audience with just a few clicks. This drives endless traffic to your website and also gives you a lift in the SERPs placement. The sooner your campaigns are launched, the earlier you can display your Ads in SERPs. The SEM result placement also provides controls over the visibility. You can easily turn it on to increase the visibility and traffic any time you want and can also quickly turn it off to maintain the budget.
On the other hand, SEO search results give you neither an immediate impact nor controls over the visibility. The concept of the SEO search result is to use organic tactics to gain visibility in SERPs over a long period of time. Sometimes it takes months to implement the SEO techniques before the brand start to rank on Google or other search engines.
SEM Vs SEO: Good For Testing
When it comes to testing your strategies, SEM tactics are the perfect option. As I have mentioned before, you can easily turn on and off a paid campaign through SEM. So this flexibility allows you to change the leading page content to check your strategies, target a new set of audiences and even have the chance to revise your Ads copy. SEM tactics take less time to make new changes and monitor the new differences in results.
But SEO techniques do not give many options for testing. There’s no paid campaign. So you cannot monitor your new strategies to see any difference in results.
SEM Vs SEO: Provide Value Over Time
As I have mentioned before that SEM uses both paid and unpaid search results, you will only get to see an increase in traffic as long as you pay for the Ads campaigns. As soon as you cut the budget for the campaign, your SEM strategy to get higher ranking on a search engine is over, and your visibility will depend only on the unpaid SEO tactics.
But in this case, SEO is entirely the opposite. SEO strategy adds value to your raking strategy over time and earns you an authoritative place on Google or other search engines. The SEO strategy compounds over time and helps to leave a lasting result.
SEM Vs SEO: Click-through Rate
SEM strategy is greatly used to get on the first page of Google or any other search engines. If your page now ends up on the second page or lower than that, then SEM strategy can help you to get more clicks and increase the chance of ranking on the first page.
But when you get on the top of the Google ranking, you can easily outperform SEM Ads with the organic search results from SEO. SEO strategy will provide a higher click-through rate or CTR than SEM. So when you are at the top, forget SEM strategy. And put more effort into bringing organic traffic to your landing page through SEO.
Now that we have showed you the difference between SEM and SEO, you can confidently consider what tactics is the right option to drive insane traffic to your website, target a specific audience and expand your budget.
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