The SEO and SEM are two essential basic strategies of online marketing, but they are also two acronyms that lead to confusion: what is best for my brand and how can I use them to reinforce each other?
It is time to clear all your doubts on this topic, related to SEM and SEO.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization ( search engine optimization ). According to Wikipedia, it can be defined as “the process of improving the visibility of a website in the organic results of different search engines”. In our country, SEO strategies focus on Google, since it is the search engine used by the vast majority of users.
Within this definition, it is very important to note that SEO refers to organic results , that is, we are not going to pay the search engine company for our pages to position better.
Search engines have evolved over the years, and with them, SEO strategies have become increasingly sophisticated. In a simple way, there are two fundamental factors that influence the positioning of a web page:
- Relevance . Google considers that a website is relevant when it corresponds precisely to a specific search, that is, when it answers the doubt or question that the user has asked. To improve the relevance of our website, we use on-site SEO techniques: keyword and URL optimization, faster loading times, better user experience, etc.
- The authority. A website is authoritative when it is popular, and this popularity is measured by the number of links pointing to it. To improve the authority of a website, off-site SEO techniques are used, among which linkbuilding stands out.
What is SEM?
On the other side of the coin, SEM is short for Search Engine Marketing ( search engine marketing). In a global way, we could consider that the SEM encompasses all the techniques used to improve the positioning of a website (including SEO). However, most marketers use SEM as a synonym for “search engine advertising.” To avoid confusion, we will do the same in this article.
SEM, therefore, refers to techniques that improve the positioning of our website through paid ads that appear in search engines for certain keywords. In our country, the most popular search engine advertising solution is Google Ads.
The main differences between SEO and SEM
As we have seen, both SEO and SEM seek to improve the positioning of a website in search engines, such as Google. But there are several differences between them:
- The most obvious is the type of investment they require . There is a stereotype that “SEO is free”, but this is not exactly the case: getting a website capable of ranking high in search results takes time, effort and, ultimately, budget. But with the exception of some maintenance costs, this is mostly an initial investment that pays off in the future. Instead, if you use SEM, you will have to continue paying for each click on your ads.
- The place your website will occupy on the results pages is also different. Google Ads ads occupy a band at the top and a column to the right of the page, while organic search results occupy the center space.
- The type of content we work with is different between the two strategies. SEO is based on creating quality content, generally in longer formats, while in SEM you have ads with a very reduced number of characters and landing pages designed to achieve maximum impact with the minimum elements.
- Finally, the timing is also different: with the SEM we seek to achieve results in the short / medium term, while the SEO is a medium / long-term bet.
How to combine SEO and SEM in your marketing strategy?
The next question is what is better, use SEO or SEM? And the answer is both at the same time. If you combine them wisely, you can take advantage of their mutual potential to achieve better results in both strategies.
Our philosophy at Cyberclick to combine SEM and SEO can be summed up very simply: SEM first, SEO second :
- The first step is to carry out a preliminary study of the most searched keywords and those that receive the most clicks by sector, product or service. To do this, we use tools such as Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Planner, or SEMRush, specially designed for SEM. The idea is to find words that are in high demand (many users are looking for them), but in which the “supply” of positioned web pages is still relatively low.
- Using the insights that we have obtained in the previous section, we launch our SEM campaigns to attract visitors. In this way, you can achieve tangible results from the first moment, without the long wait that organic positioning strategies require.
But of course, all this work we have done is reusable for SEO . We already know which keywords we are most interested in and how many users search for them. The next step is to use this information to plan our content strategy, working our website, blog and social networks around these keywords. It is not about including them in the texts without rhyme or reason, but about trying to understand what users are looking for and how we can respond to their needs with quality content, all at the same time that we reinforce the link building strategy. And so, in the medium and long term, we will be able to see the fruits of our effort in organic positioning in Google.