Published by Madison Gabor
You know when you want to find something online and you go to google to use the search box? You *usually* find what you are looking for within the first few options, right? Do you ever wonder how or why this happens?
This is caused by two fancy terms called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEO is, “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine,” while Search Engine Marketing (SEM), is a “form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising.”
Both techniques are major media strategies and are used by companies all over the world to make their website come up high on the list of search results. The ultimate goals here, is become the #1 hit for a specific search.
There are a few subtle yet extremely important differences between SEO and SEM. The major one being that SEO is technically free, while SEM is paid for using advertisements that come up first on the list. There are definitely pros and con to each of these strategies. Within SEO, you aren’t paying anything to have your website come up first, however, you must put in A LOT of work to get it there. You must be consistently uploading and updating the content on your page, or it will slip back down the list. So although SEO is “free” it takes much more time and effort for a page to get higher on the list of results. Google is mainly looking for pages that “answers the questions of viewers.” If you consistently and successfully answer questions, you are in pretty good shape. Using SEM, a company is paying for their pages to come up first on the list, using advertisements. So, opposite of SEO, you really aren’t doing any major work to get to the top, however, you are paying big bucks to get there.
90% of internet sessions start with a search query, even when they know where they want to go. This makes SEO and SEM extremely important if you want to get noticed. Google states they have approximately 200 different variables in their algorithm to create the search result list.
So, now that you know how to get your company to the top, what will you choose? Search Engine Optimization or Search Engine Marketing? Or maybe both!
EDIT 3/14/17: Each company should think longer and hard about which strategy to use. If you have some time on your hands, and not as much money to spare, SEO is the way to go. With this you have to constantly be creating new content. This would be for a company who really wants to work for where they want to be. This may be a small or local business that cannot afford paying for SEM. On the other hand, some larger companies and franchises can definitely afford SEM, and probably set a lot of money aside in their budget for marketing and advertising. All in all, it really depends on your company values, time, and money available.
One article wrote that every company should be using SEO because “with SEM, every dollar spent is immediately consumed; when you turn off the budget, your visibility will vanish immediately and entirely.” This is something to really think about as a business. What if your funds are running low and you have to cut marketing costs? You might not be able to afford SEM anymore, which would wreck havoc on your SEO (https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/seo-vs-sem-which-should-you-use/). After reading this article, I would definitely go for Search Engine Optimization, rather than Search Engine Marketing. You never know when times could get tough, and your online presence could be in jeopardy because you were too lazy to put in work.