SEO or SEM or Both: How to Know What Will Work for Your Business

January 9, 2019

In the internet age, the ability to search anything at any time is an incredible tool for people around the globe. People are constantly using the internet to learn more information about the problems they face, the products they want, and to understand the world around them. With this relatively new wave of information, it’s important to know how to market your products and services to the people who want or need them. Determining whether your business should invest in search engine optimization (SEO) or search engine marketing (SEM) can be a tricky question.

The number of daily online searches goes up every single year, and search engines are only getting stronger and smarter. There is a huge opportunity for businesses to use Google and other search engines to help not only drive traffic to their sites but to drive qualified traffic that leads to conversions. Trying to pick where your money and efforts should go can be a challenge, so let’s take a closer look at what goes into both SEO and SEM.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a method of optimizing a website in order to receive organic traffic from the search engine results page. This “organic” traffic isn’t something that you outright pay for, but in search engine optimization you may end up paying money to an agency, like Results Repeat, for the work they do to get your website’s entry above your competitors in the search engine results list. The more of an investment you make into your site through things like upgrades, better usability, content, etc, the more credible of a source your site becomes and the better exposure you get online.  The goal for SEO is to drive relevant search engine traffic to your site; that is, those who are looking for the information or products you offer. SEO also works to drive higher amounts of traffic to your page with relevant searches and keywords.

SEM, or search engine marketing, puts your paid or sponsored ads at the top of the search results page for relevant searches. SEM is usually in reference to PPC, or pay per click. Although many platforms offer PPC for search engines and social media platforms, Google Ads is the biggest and most well-known. The goal for SEM is for business owners to gain visibility during searches and drive traffic to their site quickly. The best SEM strategies are dynamic, with a focus on getting the best return on investment. The most notable difference between SEO and SEM is the fact that you pay for the ads run through SEM directly to guarantee visibility.

Now that we have the basics down, we can ask which method is right for each business or site owner specifically. The question isn’t as simple as most business owners would like it to be. Some experts will tell you that SEO is the better option because it offers better quality leads at a lower price than SEM. This isn’t always the case, however, as each business is different. SEO can take time. Building and executing a successful SEO strategy can be incredibly beneficial, but it may take longer than some business owners are willing to wait. One example is a small business or start-up that doesn’t have the budget or resources yet to achieve a successful SEO strategy.

An important step in figuring out what method your business should invest in and why is to build a solid online marketing strategy that is tailored to fit your needs. When you have your best possible marketing strategy prepared, you’ll know what your target audience is looking for to find your website and you’ll know the best way to reach that audience. Figuring out how to best reach your audience is the ultimate question you’re asking when you’re choosing between SEO and SEM.

If you have done the research and the legwork and you’re ready to dive into both, you’ll want to have a good balance of SEO and SEM as they can work together quite well. You will want to make sure that you’re covering all your bases; where your SEO falls short of gathering your audience, your SEM will pick them up and vice versa. Knowing the long-term goals of your company is vital for creating a strong and effective marketing strategy. By investing resources into both SEO and SEM, you’re going to have a leg up on your competitors who are only investing in one or the other.

If the world of SEO vs SEM is still a confusing one to you, let us help you get some insight on your marketing strategy. Our specialized teams stay up to date on the latest trends in digital marketing, meaning we can hone in on the methods that will work best for your specific company. If you find that your digital marketing strategy needs a little work, but don’t know how to get started, contact us to see how we can help!

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