SEO and SEM are a vast topic and whilst they’re established discliplines, for people new to the concept, they can also be a little confusing.
They are certainly ever evolving areas of digital marketing – blink and you might miss something. That’s why I work with a pro who knows the territory inside out.
Meet Hasan Kara, my colleague from Kara Digital in Brighton, an expert on all things search.
So, here’s the scoop.
Search is about one thing. Getting found! And that’s the point of being online. You are waiting to be found by your tribe. So the world of SEO and SEM are here to help that process.
SEO (search engine optimization) is essentially a component of the larger category, SEM (search engine marketing). Google’s Knowledge Graph tells us that search engine optimization 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.”
SEO has various elements
- Regularly updated and fresh content from an established domain
- Incorporating selective keyword naturally into meta descriptions and tags
- Using video and images.
- Blog posts and page copy that are the correct length as well as written and optimized properly
- Well formatted URLS
- Good page load speed (less than 3 seconds is key)
- Google verification and authorship
- Contact details so we know who you are
- Social sharing happening alongside your content
- It doesn’t stop there!
- Creating a good backlink strategy (aka having other high quality/authoritative sites link to your site naturally)
- Social presence and sharing
- Recommendations and reviews
- Bookmarking, especially local (Foursquare, Yelp, Quora, Reddit etc)
Then we’re onto SEM
Wikipedia say’s this:
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. SEM may incorporate search engine optimization (SEO), which adjusts or rewrites website content and site architecture to achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages to enhance pay per click (PPC) listings.
So what’s the difference between SEO & SEM?
Quite simple, one is ‘organic’ or unpaid, and the other involves coughing up for advertising as well, whether via Google or on social media. So although we tend to use the word SEO, SEM is a broader word that captures all kinds of search.
Which is better?
This is a matter of debate. Your ‘inbound marketer’, the person who believes that building a ‘permission based’ audience (ie, people who find you and buy into you through the quality content you produce) is the best way forward. This is great and free, but it can be slow.
Additionally, Pay Per Click (those Google AdWords) – part of SEM can help to build your immediate visibility when you launch.
So, ideally you need to consider both.
What’s the secret to this search business?
Regardless of whether it is organic or paid, of course the magic is in sharing the right message, at the right time to the right audience.
Quite often the best start to a winning “search mindset” is to put yourself in the shoes of your client, your customer. Are you clear about who are you targeting? What are they searching for? What might be helpful to them in coming to buying decisions or in doing research? This might be one of the most valuable exercises you can do in your whole search strategy.
The good thing about SEM is that we have lots of data to analyse our progress and the course can be continually adjusted.
We’ll be sharing lots more tips and ideas to help you get your SEM strategy on the road. So stay tuned. And do get in touch if you have any specific areas you’d like me to look into for you.
As you can see, getting found could keep you busy, but it could also keep you in business.