Lackey Designs

Web Marketing 101

What’s the difference between SEO and SEM?

Web Marketing 101

Web marketing is crucial to helping your company receive as much exposure as possible. Businesses choose to market on the web over traditional marketing because it is cheaper and often times more effective.

When putting together an online marketing plan, many different web marketing strategies exist. Money, effectiveness, and business needs should all be taken into consideration when choosing your strategy.

Perhaps two of the most popular web marketing strategies are search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). As complicated as these strategies seem from a distance, they can be easily simplified when compared to one another.


Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a web designer’s most effective tool for increasing a website’s traffic. Simply put, SEO is the practice used to increase a website’s search engine ranking.

Effective SEO is achieved by having a website show up high in search engine results. Websites that appear at the top of search engines successfully use SEO strategies. A few different components that factor into SEO are listed below.

  • Titles – Page titles in the code are taken into consideration by search engine algorithms because they often summarize the webpage.
  • Keywords – Search engines scan the words used on websites. Using the correct keywords is important so that a website is never overlooked or disregarded by a search engine.
  • Links – When a website is linked to by other sites, it shows search engines that the site has reliable information or provides good services.

SEO often produces what is referred to as “organic” results. The results provided by SEO are natural because money is not spent on advertising or boosting the website’s visibility.


Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a fast, highly effective way for websites to reach the top of search engine results. Unlike SEO, SEM is not “organic,” but is paid for instead.

SEM strategies are used to maximize the number of clicks a website gets. A company will pay for advertising that places their company at the top of Google searches or in the news feeds of specific demographics on Facebook.

Many SEM paid advertisements are pay-per-click (PPC). Companies pay a certain sum of money every time their PPC link is opened. PPC advertising can vary in price depending on a variety of variables, including the keywords used by the company’s website.

So where does a PPC ad campaign begin? A company’s best bet is to start with the most popular search engines and social media sites.

  • Facebook advertising – Posts to Facebook can be “boosted” so that potential customers are exposed to your business’ services. With Facebook advertising, it is much easier to target different demographics by age, gender, and location.
  • Google AdWords – AdWords is Google’s search engine marketing service. Through AdWords, your business can bid on Google’s search engine position and leap over the competition.
  • AdWords Express – AdWords Express makes the management of Google AdWords much easier. With Express, keywords and ad placements are automatically managed.
  • Bing Ads – Bing, the second most-used search engine, offers their own form of a search engine marketing service called Bing Ads. Like Google AdWords, Bing Ads places your business’ website ahead of the competition, and works on a PPC basis. If customers don’t click, you don’t pay.

SEM strategies can be very hit-or-miss. The market for search engine advertisements can vary greatly. Because the market varies so much, using the best tools for SEM research is extremely beneficial. At Lackey Designs, we use SEM Rush.

SEM Rush is software that runs reports about a website’s SEM and SEO opportunities. Reports show advertising opportunities as well as how a company’s competitors’ ad campaigns have worked. The software is also useful when finding effective keywords that are being used in the industry.


The Verdict

A good online marketing plan must involve a certain level of SEO. A company’s website should use effective titles, content, and backlinks to truly optimize the company’s online presence.

However, SEO is only a piece of the puzzle. Some companies are able to maintain a successful online presence solely through SEO—but many need a little boost. If a company is willing to put more money towards their online exposure, SEM can be a very quick and effective way to reach a large audience of potential customers.

All in all, a company needs a plan for SEO. Without one, their website may never come up in search engine results. SEM is optional, but if done correctly it can help a business reach a massive new customer base.

If your business is looking to improve its online presence, take a look at our SEO services or our SEM services, and contact us for a quote.