SEO vs. SEM: What’s the Difference and Which is Right for Your Brand?
If you own a business and have been handling much of your own digital marketing strategies, there are two terms that you have most likely come across, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
Although these terms are commonly used interchangeably, they are separate solutions to help your business boost traffic and online visibility. It is important to explore the differences between the two and determine which will produce better results for your business.
The main difference between SEO and SEM is how they attempt to promote your website. SEO is optimizing your website and pages to use relevant keywords and phrases to rank higher in search engine results pages. Adding these keywords to your content helps your site and pages more search engine friendly. This deep-rooted strategy requires continuous maintenance but will ultimately impact your website’s overall ranking in search engine results pages, increasing your organic traffic and producing better brand recognition.
Consequently, SEM refers to search engine marketing. This is a general term for various paid marketing tactics, such as Google Ads, that involve placing purchased ads at the top of search engines or other websites for relevant keywords and phrases. Some methods include Pay-per-click (PPC), cost-per-acquisition (CPA), display advertisements, and retargeting campaigns. These advertisements will appear when users search for the specific terms you’ve added to your advertising. Unlike SEO strategies, SEM can produce immediate results.
Both search engine strategies can effectively promote your business, but deciding which method to use depends on your specific goals, needs, and budget. SEM may be the way to go if you’re looking for quick results. If you are looking for sustainable, long-term results, SEO will provide the better alternative, although it requires more effort and time. Most companies will combine the strategies to achieve their overall marketing objectives. These two methods can be used together in certain ways that support the strong characteristics of each one, giving your brand the best chance at success. For instance, you can use SEM to run paid ads to drive immediate traffic while you also work on the backend to adjust your SEO strategy and improve your organic search ranking over time.
In the end, understanding the difference between SEO and SEM is essential because you want to ensure you are doing everything possible to improve your online visibility and drive traffic to your website. Both have their pros and cons, but the majority of businesses are going to want to craft a marketing plan around both. At Edge Digital, we can help set up your business’s SEM and SEO strategies. If you’re still not sure which one you should get started with, reach out to us and ask. We will give you a free assessment and let you know.