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SEO & SEM What’s the Difference?

SEO & SEM What’s the Difference?

12 Sep, 2017


Often used interchangeably, it is easy to see how people get confused about understanding the differences between Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM). However, for your website’s success it is vitally important that you know that they are different, and how they differ.

Put simply, SEO is the process of organically improving the ranking of your website so that it appears in the top positions of search engine result pages. Whereas SEM is the process of paying and bidding in an auction to have your website display at the top of search engine results pages.

What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)? 

SEO is the organic process of growing the number of visitors to your website by making sure that the site appears high on the list of results on a search engine.  Optimising on-page and off-page website activities, and the monitoring of Google’s ever-changing algorithms are necessary to maximise SEO results.

What are “on-page” optimisations? Some examples include:
Including specific keywords naturally into title tags, heading tags meta descriptions & alt text 
Optimisations to page load speed
Updated Sitemaps
Social sharing integration
Blog post & page copy that is written and optimised with relevant website content

What are “off-page” optimisations? Some examples include:
Social shares of your website’s content
Attention from social bookmarking sites, including Reddit, Digg and Stumbleupon
Creating high quality backlinks by having other high quality or authoritative sites link back to your site naturally

How do you keep up to date with Google?
Although there are many good blogs out there to keep you informed about the latest changes to Google we highly recommend MOZ & the Google Webmaster Central Blog to keep up to date on the latest changes.

SEO is usually looked at as a long-term strategy that takes time to get the results, it gets stronger and stronger over time and has long lasting results.

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)? 

SEM allows for immediate results and qualified leads through paid advertisements on search engines. The advantage of SEM is that it allows you to target people through relevant ad copy and keywords that match their search queries. 

Ads created for SEM appear in the search engine results pages (SERPs) besides organic listings, giving you the opportunity to increase the visibility of your website over others.

Which Online Search marketing tactic is best?

Considering your overall marketing strategy - SEM works immediately, but will disappear as soon as you turn it off whereas SEO results are long lasting and will only disappear if you neglect your campaign for an extended period. 

We would argue that you should use both. SEM is great for campaign based activities, whereas SEO is for the long run, gaining authority over time. When it comes to choosing the best tactic, it is important to evaluate your specific needs, but be sure to fully understand the differences and how you will maintain your efforts. 

If you have any doubts on what strategy you should undertake - please do not hesitate to email the B2B marketing experts, IMA.

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