If you are new to internet marketing, you may be a bit confused by all of the options available. There are just as many ways to market online as there are offline. Two of the most important and most widely used are SEO and SEM. Each comes at marketing from a different angle.
Both search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) require a specialized set of skills. SEO requires knowledge of search engines and how to effectively optimize a website to get it ranked on page one. SEM involves knowledge and understanding of advertising on search engines. Although it can be intimidating diving into either of these fields, the key is merely identifying which one is best for you. Many businesses do both.
Search engine optimization is a broad term for all of the various techniques used to promote a website within search engine results. Sites with good SEO (whether intentionally applied or a result of natural growth) will appear higher on the results pages than those with poor SEO. Since so few search engine users bother to even go to the second page of results — let alone third, fourth, or fifth — you need to have good SEO if you want to see any traffic from search engines like Google.
SEO takes time to show results, and they cannot be guaranteed. For some, a more direct approach is desirable. Instead of the slow but excellent results that SEO can deliver, SEM puts your ads instantly in prominent positions on search engine results for the terms you specify. Unlike traditional marketing, you only pay when someone clicks through the ads, making it an excellent source of affordable, targeted traffic.
So what does your website need? You’ll have to consider a few factors before making your decision. SEM works quickly and easily, without any changes to your site or having to generate new content, so it’s a good choice if you need results now. Most savvy internet users ignore search engine ads, though, and tend to be wary of clicking on non-organic results. SEO is an excellent long-term investment, as having good results will generate more traffic than ads alone. Good SEO will also get you results in keywords you may not have targeted directly, helping you reach more of your market than just with SEM.
A common tactic is to use SEM to get your link on search engine results pages while waiting for your improved SEO to take hold and generate reliable results. It’s a tremendous two-pronged attack.