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The internet is a marketing battle ground. Behind every search there are billions of companies competing to climb to the top of Google’s rankings to land the coveted top search result spot. Creating content that answers the questions of your audience should be a priority. Search engine optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can significantly impact your search rankings. 

The key to a successful digital marketing strategy lies in a few goals: to attract attention, drive quality traffic to a website, and nurture leads (through digital means) to become customers. While the tactics are in the same ballpark, SEO and SEM are two different approaches to search optimization that can work together for a total home run.

Understanding the basics between SEO and SEM allows you to properly execute strategies to improve your visibility and performance in search engines. In most cases, you will want to use both as they work closely as a team. 

What is SEO?

SEO is your friend. In technical terms, though, it is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic (non-paid, free, earned) search engine results. SEO helps connect what people are searching for online to the answers they are seeking. It’s the link between the words they’re using and the type of content they wish to consume.Untitled design(11)

You can think of search engines like answering machines. They scour billions of pieces of content and evaluate thousands of factors to determine which link is most likely to answer a query. The higher your business’s pages rank in a relevant Google search, the more likely you are to gain attention and attract prospective customers.

Goals of SEO

Prospects conduct trillions of searches every day. Greater visibility and higher ranking will help you create brand awareness and ultimately, find the customers you’re looking for.

  1. Generate Leads and Drive Quality Traffic
    The higher you rank, the more clicks to your website. The more valuable information you can give to a person in a short amount of time, the higher the likelihood they will return to your site.    
  2. Increase Brand Awareness
    SEO will help your brand pop up during moments of need. Focus on link building, long-tail keywords, and integrating your social media platforms to boost SEO and brand awareness at the same time.
  3. Improve Customer Service
    By mapping out the customer’s journey and discovering the pain points they may have along the way, you’ll be able to meet them where they need your expertise most.         
  4. Identify Target Audience
    Knowing the gender, age range, ethnicity, income level, interests, and attributes of your primary audience member will help you to understand what they are searching for online and what content they want to see.

What is SEM?

Digital advertising has never been more important in promoting what your business has to offer. In an increasingly competitive market, Search Engine Marketing is an effective way to get eyes on your website.

Not to be confused with SEO, SEM is the practice of using paid advertisements that appear on search engine result pages (SERPs). When entering a search on Google, advertisers may have the opportunity to have their ads appear alongside the results for those search queries. There are several factors that affect whether or not the ad is shown including keywords and Google’s search algorithm. 


Goals of SEM

  1. Immediate Results
    When you need a lot of traffic in a little bit of time, SEM will get you clear-cut results by placing your page at the very top of a SERP, helping to optimize your site. SEO efforts can take some time to show results, averaging about 3-6 months to make a wave.
  2. Right Place, Right Time
    Search engine marketing helps businesses show up exactly where they need to be. This tactic allows motivated customers itching to purchase a product the connection to the business with the answer.


Similarities of SEO and SEM

There’s far more similarities between SEM and SEO than just the “SE.” Both tactics:

  • Help a brand appear in search results
  • Target specific keywords
  • Drive more traffic to a website


Differences Between SEO and SEMUntitled design(13)

  • The most prevalent difference between SEO and SEM is that SEO is an organic strategy while SEM is a paid strategy.
  • SEO appears in the search results of a query, whereas SEM appears alongside the search results as an ad. It will also be noted to let users know it is an ad.
  • In some cases, you can specify your target audience with SEM through filters of factors like age, location, and income. Through SEO, you cannot specify who can see your results; anyone can see them as long as they search the right thing.


What Approach Is Best For Your Business?

The short answer, both. However, depending on your company goals, budget, and time, one tactic may be more suited for your business than the other. Both strategies require trial and error and it is important to remember that results do not happen overnight.

If you have questions on whether search engine optimization or search engine marketing is best for you, make sure to contact our team by clicking the button below.

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