SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and it’s a way for you to get free (organic) traffic from search results on search engines.
All big search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo have search results where web pages and content are ranked based on what the search engine considers to be the most useful, relevant and valuable to a user. You can’t pay a search engine to have your web pages rank highly in organic search results.
If you can get it right, SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways to market your business online in the long term. If you can rank in the top spot for a key term that brings 1,000 visitors to your site per month (and you can manage to stay in that top spot), imagine the potential if you’re able to nab the top spot for other popular search terms!
To get SEO right, you generally need to focus on three pillars:
SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing, and unlike SEO, it’s mainly the process of gaining traffic through purchasing ad spots on search engines. SEM is often referred to as paid advertising, pay-per-click or ‘paid search.’
By and large, the most popular paid search platform that is used by search marketers is Google Adwords, but ‘paid search’ as an umbrella term can also refer to advertising on major social networks like Facebook or YouTube, or through paid promotion on content distribution platforms like Outbrain or Taboola.
Customer targeting with paid advertising gets more and more sophisticated by the second, and you’d be absolutely flabbergasted at what you can achieve with a few simple clicks.
Let’s say you’re a mechanic based in Newtown, Sydney, and you want to grow your business. Here are some handy options using SEM.
Target potential customers by location. Push ads to people in the Newtown local area so they’re aware of your business, or push ads to people in Sydney’s inner west to capture the attention of an even larger pool.
Target potential customers by behaviour: There are a few things you can do here. One is you can remarket to people who have already visited your website. Perhaps they browsed but were too busy at the time to make an enquiry, so remarket to them with advertising to jog their memory. You can also create audience segments based on your potential customers’ likes and dislikes. As a mechanic, for example, you could create a segment based on personal interests in ‘cars’ + ‘Newtown’ or advertise a special introductory offer to an audience segment that likes a competitor of yours.
SEM’s effects are immediate. You can jump right in and connect with your audience straight away. This is especially good if you’re running a sale, have a special offer or want to reach a very specific market and don’t have time for SEO to kick in. You can be very precise like with terms like ‘Red Back Spider removal’ aimed at people in just the southern suburbs of Adelaide.
SEO, on the other hand, is a way for your website to appear organically on a search engine by improving its relevance and authority for the main things your business does within your local suburb or state. It works off more generic search terms like ‘Pest Control Adelaide’.
Basically SEO is your long term strategy for helping customers find you all the time, while SEM allows you to have a more agile strategy when trying to attract customers. Combined, SEO and SEM deliver maximum visibility.