Did you know that there are around 820,000 small businesses across Australia?
If you’re among these numbers, it’s important that you do all you can to make your business stand out amidst the vast competition. Making your website more visible online is a great step towards this. Those who are searching for services related to yours just need a push in the right direction so that they choose you over your competitors, and SEO and SEM strategies can help you with this.
Here, we’re going to define both SEO and SEM in detail and talk about the major differences between the two. Read on to learn how you can use these strategies in conjunction with one another to ensure that your business soars to new heights.
To understand SEO, you need to understand what organic traffic is. This term refers to any unpaid traffic that a page gets from Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This is in contrast with paid traffic from PPC ads or social media marketing.
Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, refers to manipulations that a site owner can make to drive organic traffic to their page. The goal is to get the site onto the first page so that it becomes visible to more searchers. Once the necessary manipulations are identified, content writing teams will create blog posts and other content that performs the manipulations.
These strategies make the site more appealing to Google crawlers (aka spiders), the bots that scour the web trying to find the most relevant and reputable pages to answer web queries. When someone searches ‘web design trends,’ for example, pages that these crawlers find to be the most relevant to this specific search will be displayed first.
But how can you make your webpage rise to the top of Google? Let’s take a look.
Users must conduct both on-page and off-page manipulations to boost their webpage up in Google rankings. There are therefore three main aspects of search engine optimisation: on-page SEO, technical SEO, and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO refers to manipulations that you make on your site itself to make it more appealing to Google crawlers. The most important manipulation that falls into this category is keyword research and usage.
Content writers will find the keywords- phrases that constitute search queries- that are most often associated with your site. They then will include these keywords in your engaging high-quality blog posts so that crawlers associate your page with similar queries. Image descriptions and meta tags should also be rich in keywords.
Technical SEO is a facet of on-page SEO that refers to non-content-related manipulations. It is related to the backend structure of the site. Strategies that improve your site speed, make it more mobile-friendly, and increase its user experience are some common aspects of technical SEO.
Finally, off-page SEO refers to the things that you do to boost site credibility. Including backlinks in blog posts is one of the most important off-site SEO strategies. Backlinks are links inserted within content that redirect you to credible and reputable webpages (that are not direct competitors). Google crawlers will then see that you’re associated with these high-quality pages, believe you to be of an equally high calibre, and boost your rankings.
Off-page SEO strategies also include inbound linking from other pages, directory profiles, local listings like Google My Business, and reviews for your services on sites like Yelp.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is another way to boost your visibility. However, unlike SEO, it aims to generate paid traffic rather than organic traffic. Your business purchases adverts that will appear on SERPs when people make a query using the keyword that you bid on.
Much like in on-site SEO, experts will identify the phrases that people are searching for in relation to your business. Rather than including them in organic content, however, they will bid on these keywords. Bids that are won will result in your advert being displayed when people search for the keyword.
The advertising platforms used to display these adverts are Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising. They may appear at the top or bottom of mobile search engine listings, depending on the spot that you bid on. Some desktop devices will register your adverts to be displayed on the sidebar.
These SEM adverts, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) adverts, come in many different formats. Some are text-based, but this isn’t usually the best way to engage your audience. Larger product listing adverts are more visual and use images, graphics, and sometimes video.
While bidding on larger spots can cost more, studies show that people retain 45-55% more visual information than they do text. They will be much more likely to retain, remember, and revisit your page in the future because of this higher engagement.
Your PPC campaign may last for a select length of time (e.g. 4 months). However, it more likely will last for the duration of your budget. When you bid on a PPC slot and win, you will be able to enter the budget for your marketing campaign and tell it to run until your budget expires.
There are many similarities between SEO and SEM. They both help you promote your brand to your target audience based on their search queries.
They also help you to drive targeted traffic to your site and fulfil objectives such as filling out contact forms and making sales. Keyword research is also a commonality between SEO and SEM, though what you do with the keywords is different.
They basically work to obtain the same goal: visibility, targeting, and sales.
However, they still are more different than they are similar. This is because they go about attaining your goals in very different ways. You need to know the distinction of SEO vs SEM not so you can think about them as in contrast with each other, but so you can take advantage of their different strengths.
The first difference between SEO and SEM is the time frame that it takes each to be effective. SEM adverts will appear immediately after you win a bid on a keyword and upload your design. People will be able to immediately click it, find themselves on your website, and make purchases and inquiries.
On the flip side, SEO takes a bit more time to be impactful. Experts all have different timeframes in which they expect SEO to work. Many say that it will only take 4 to 6 months, but others agree that within a year is a reasonable timeframe. SEO will definitely take no longer than 12 months to convert.
While SEM is faster, SEO is the better choice for adding value over time. When you purchase an SEM package, you only will get results for the length of time that your advert is displayed. Your PPC advert’s budget will eventually expire and others will be able to bid on the spot you currently hold.
PPC adverts are therefore fleeting. On the flip side, SEO optimised content is out there forever. Once it’s posted, it can continue to drive traffic to your webpage for many years to come (assuming that you maintain the content by eliminating broken/irrelevant links in the future).
SEO is cyclical in that the more successful your campaign is, the more value it will have over time. If more people click on your page after making a query, this shows search engine crawlers that your page is what people want to see after searching. They’ll not only maintain your ranking but push you up even further, driving your visibility to even greater heights.
SEM is called ‘paid advertising’ because you need a paid placement. SEO results are 100% unpaid (though you need to hire a professional content creator if you want any ROI whatsoever).
Even with the fees of hiring an SEO expert, search engine optimisation is going to cost you very little. You only need to pay the content creators once before the content is generated. You pay nothing when a Google user clicks on your SEO blog posts later- it’s completely free for you.
On the flip side, you will pay a fee each time users click on your PPC advert. This fee varies depending on the Cost Per Click (CPC) of the keyword associated with your advert. It usually isn’t a very large fee, but it does come out of your pocket multiple times.
While keyword targeting does ultimately get your page to your target audience, SEM lets you do so directly. This is because you can enter demographics that you want to display your PPC advert to when you upload it.
This means that it won’t only be shown to random people who search the keyword, but will be specifically optimised for:
You can therefore make a more specific choice as to who sees your page. This gets word of your services out to the most relevant users, which you can find by using Google Analytics to see who visits your page and meets actionable objectives. If you’re in an extremely niche market, this is a great tool.
SEO is important primarily because Google users rarely look lower than the first few results after making a query. In fact, 92% of users choose never to scroll past the first page in Google. Since all the hits are on the first page, not using SEO strategies will lead to you getting virtually no traffic.
The impact of such low traffic would be that word of your services would never get out there. Even those in your target audience won’t invest in your services because they never will have heard of you.
On the flip side, if SEO boosts your rankings and your page gets a lot of hits, people will purchase goods and services from you. They also will likely recommend you to their colleagues and help you to get even more traffic in the future.
SEM is essential for extremely different reasons than SEO is. It ensures that your page is visible at the exact moment that people are looking for what you offer. You can use Google Analytics to discover which searches people make immediately before being lead to (and clicking on) your site.
Paid platforms like Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising will place your advert at the top of search engine listings. Potential customers can click them directly and purchase services immediately. In fact, sponsored clicks amount to nearly 65% of all inbound traffic to a webpage worldwide.
Thus, you’ll get more clicks and subsequent sales with PPC adverts. They’re convenient, immediate, and encourage those who are immediately looking to buy to invest in your business.
While some businesses may need to choose between SEO vs SEM for financial reasons, this isn’t the best way to go. If at all possible, you need to be using both SEO and SEM solutions. These two forms of marketing complement each other. The information glean from your SEM campaigns can be used to maximise the effectiveness of your SEO blog posts and vice versa.
SEM is a great way to test out keywords before choosing them for future blog posts. You can tap into data about how many times your page search posts were clicked.
Look into how many people were directed from your webpage for each keyword that you bid on. Those that drive more traffic are what your target audience is most interested in, so you should write blog posts about these subjects and optimise for these keywords.
Because SEM is such a fast way to gain traffic, you will be able to identify strong-performing keywords almost immediately. You can therefore get straight to work on optimising your organic search strategy for these queries.
In addition to using SEM for keyword research, you can also use different advert formats to see which one people prefer. Look at trends in clicks to answer the following questions:
Answering these questions will let you know what is most popular with your audience. If they mainly click on video adverts, then you should incorporate more moving graphics and video content on your SEO-rich website. If they’re almost exclusively clicking on blue adverts- which, as strange as this may sound, happens often you probably should rework your website to incorporate more of this hue.
You also will have a better understanding of who you’re marketing to. For example, people of different ages like to see different language and ideas expressed in adverts, so knowing your demographic helps you to reach people better.
Finally, you will know which of your goods and services are the most interesting for your audience. While you shouldn’t completely neglect to market your other services, focus on the most popular when trying to bring in blind traffic from PPC adverts and search engine users. Once they see the service that engages the most people, they’re likely to be more interested in the rest of your webpage and browse freely.
You also will need to invest in web design and development to make your SEO and SEM campaigns a success. If you fail to do this, users will quickly become disengaged and click away from your website. This leads them straight into the loving arms of your direct competitors. Not only does this negatively impact your sales, but it also will make your SEO campaign less successful.
You have less than 15 seconds to engage visitors before they bounce, which means that you need to really pack a punch with your first impression. This means:
Make sure to ask a professional about current web design trends to keep your page looking up to date.
Eventually, your SEO campaign is going to start taking effect. This means that more people will be finding your webpage through organic search results, so you can reduce other marketing channels that cost additional money. You should pay less for paid search adverts as soon as your organic results begin to rise.
Not only will this save you money, but it will also allow for the cyclical benefits of SEO to take effect. If people continue to click on your PPC ads rather than your official webpage, Google crawlers aren’t going to register clicks as organic traffic to your website. When they do register clicks as organic traffic, your page will soar to new heights.
This isn’t to say that you can no longer use paid search efforts. You simply should reduce them for the specific keywords that you’re ranking organically for. You can still have one or two adverts if these keywords have an especially high search volume, but it’s best to let your SEO campaign take the bulk of your searches.
Instead, refocus paid search efforts on keywords that you aren’t ranking organically for. This will allow you to draw in a wider audience and expand your business further within your target audience. Whether you want to reach more people in the same industry or draw in sales from a new location, this is a great way to boost your business.
Many marketers fear the potential impacts of keyword cannibalisation. They worry that their organic search traffic is finally going to rank highly and then paid ads will ruin this success. They fear that the paid ads, which they don’t mean to rank more highly for, are going to push their organic results down in the Google listings.
However, keyword cannibalisation is not something that you need to worry about.
Marketing experts have found that there are rises in combined organic and paid search CTR when both tactics are used. They will appear in the SERPs together and therefore provide you with more clicks. You don’t need to fear negative impacts by combining the two mediums.
Now you know all about SEO and SEM, the key similarities and differences between them, and how these strategies can coexist. That means it’s time for you to get started with both organic and paid search strategies for your business.
Contact Mobilise Solutions with any lingering inquiries on how to grow your business with SEO and search marketing. Our experts are happy to point you in the direction of the tools that you’ll need to get your business off the ground with a free audit.
We also offer both SEO content writing services, backlinks and the creation and implementation of SEM ads. We look forward to helping you get word of your business out to those who are looking for your services, so don’t hesitate to reach out.