Search Engine Optimization (SEO) versus Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
No Consensus on if SEM includes SEO
Research by Small Business Success (SBS) indicates that there isn’t any consensus that Search Engine Marketing (SEM) includes Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There is no point in debating this since hundreds of articles/blog posts cannot agree that SEO is part of SEM. To make it easy for small business owners, when on the SBS website, SEM means paid and SEO means organic or “free”. Consequently, SEM does not include SEO.
If you are really interested read “Does SEM = SEO + CPC Still Add Up?” and “SEM vs. SEO vs. PPC Defined: What’s the Difference?”
What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?
Search engine marketing (SEM) is an Internet Marketing model using paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (SERPS).
Paid searches e.g. pay-per-click (PPC) is typically the largest component of SEM and is where an advertiser pays the owner of a search engine to host their advertising. It also allows you to feature at the top of the search pages through a bidding system. Advertisers (like you) bid on keywords for ad placement that your potential customers may type into the search engines when looking for your services or products. Usually, advertisers pay a fixed amount for each user who clicks the ad.
Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) and the Bing Ads are the two main search networks that SEM professionals use. There are other search networks such as Amazon Ads, Yahoo Search Ads, and Baidu Advertising. In the case of Google, Ads can also appear within Google Search Network including Google Search, Google Play, Google Shopping, and Google Maps.
SEM also includes paid advertising on partnered websites of search engines such as the Google’s Display Network of websites that include Google Finance, Gmail, Blogger, and YouTube.
Search engine marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote your products and grow your business fast in a highly competitive marketplace.
Comparing Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Choosing Between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Choosing Between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) depends on your overall digital marketing goals.
The bottom line is that if you need traffic to your website fast you must pay for it. If you are launching your website and need immediate visibility SEM (paid search advertising) and will be the answer. Using pay per click (PPC) advertising campaign delivers almost instantaneous results. However, once you stop the paid campaigns, the traffic also stops.
Search Engine Optimization is the answer if you want to create a long-lasting online business without relying on paid traffic. SEO can take months before to work (get on the first three SERPS). Small business owners should not have unrealistic expectations when launching an SEO initiative.
It would not be wise to work with PPC only and ignore search engine optimization. Another strategy could be to start a pay per click campaign that slowly phases out as SEO kicks in.
Website Traffic Distribution for SEM and SEO
The combination of organic (SEO) and paid search (SEM) are powerful, and studies indicate that they account for close to 70% of all trackable website traffic. This means that they are both engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are beneficial for small business owners. But, SEO still dominates trackable website site traffic and research by SBS indicates that it accounts for at least 50%.
In general, SEO is most economical and normally the best marketing tactic for long-lasting outcomes for small business owners. If your website achieves high ranking in search engines you can pick up free web traffic 24/7 and earn recognition from your customers and competition.
Conclusion on Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
You as small business owner can have the best-looking Website on Earth, but if nobody can find it, then it serves no purpose! That’s where SEO and SEM steps in. These digital marketing techniques are a vital component to a successful marketing plan for your small business. It may well be the difference between generating a lot of traffic to your small business website or getting lost among the billions of other sites on the Web.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is covered in more detail withing these blog posts “When did SEO Begin and Is SEO Relevant to Small Businesses in 2020?” and “What is SEO? What is the Difference Between On- and Off-page SEO?”