SEO and SEM: All You Need to Know

Your simplified guide to everything related to SEO and SEM. Keep reading to find out which one is best for your business!

seo vs sem

The main goal of search engine marketing is to appear on the top of search engine result pages and stand out from the rest of your competitors. If you don’t know already, SEM and SEO are both terms used to describe optimization methods when it comes to marketing on search engines. They are strategies that are used to create brand awareness, increase sales, and drive traffic to websites. However, there is a difference between these two: 

  • SEM uses paid methods to appear in search results.
  • SEO uses organic (non-paid) methods to appear in search results.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization and uses organic tactics to achieve placement at the top of search results. 

Using a range of SEO tactics, marketers try to drive organic traffic to their website and improve their search rankings. SEO methods typically involve On-Page and Off-Page components. 

what is seo

On-Page optimization includes a variety of activities aimed at improving your website and the compatibility between the search engine and the content of your site. The most important aspect of On-Page optimization is keyword research. Keyword research is essential when optimizing your search results. This is because search engines recognize keywords to match users with the most relevant websites, depending on their search intent. So, the more relevant keywords used in your website, the more likely it is for your site to appear on the first page of the search results. Some other On-Page optimization techniques include. 

  • Improving user experience (the site speed, making it easy to navigate, having a pleasant site aesthetic, and using different categories to help with user navigation).
  • Incorporating meta descriptions and title tags so that users are able to read a brief description of your website and see if its right for them. This also makes it easy for Google to understand your website and how relevant it will be to users, especially if keywords are included. 
  • Ensure that your site is mobile friendly. According to a report from Search Engine Land, nearly 60% of searches are made from mobile phones. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, you could be missing out on traffic from more than half of internet users!
  • Use infographics and visually appealing messages to captivate user attention and drive them to your site. Infographics are useful when trying to convey information to users because they make it easier and faster to understand. They also ensure that users do not get bored and grasp the information quickly while scrolling. 

What is SEM?

SEM stands for search engine marketing and uses paid methods to optimize a website’s position on search engine results. 

It is often referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) marketing where marketers pay a fee to the search engine which they are advertising on each time their ad is clicked. It also involves bidding on keywords related to their products and website. When a user searches using these keywords, the advertiser bidding the most on the word will appear at the top of the search results page. 

what is sem

For example, you can see in the picture below that the first three search results appear as ads. This means that these companies are most likely bidding one or more of the words used to search. 

Since these are paid ads, remember that SEM is tracking your ad metrics to make sure that your ads are functioning well and are optimized to get the best return on your investment (ROI). 

The following metrics are great indicators of ad performance to pay attention to. 

  • Return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • Cost per conversion 
  • Conversion rate
  • Search impression share

Of course, it is better to look at your ad metrics as a whole, however all 

Tracking ad metrics is probably the most challenging part of Search Engine Advertising. It is difficult to know if your numbers look okay without deep analytics knowledge. Here you will find a guide on search engine marketing and how to construct ads that are worth your time and money.

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