SEO or SEM, which one’s better for you?
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is a form of Internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPS). SEM methods include paid placements, contextual advertising and paid inclusion. It refers mainly to the text advertisements or sponsored listings, which appear on the top or the right hand side of search engine results pages. These advertising links are purchased mainly from Google Ad Words or Yahoo.
Search Marketing advertisements, (formerly known as Overture) or MSN (Live Search) are also called Pay Per Click (PPC) ads. This means you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. The ranking sequence is determined by a variety of factors such as bids CTR (Click through Rate), keyword relevancy to the landing page, and competition for a specific keyword. In many instances the top 2 rankings are not necessarily the best positions, while being ranked between 3 and 5 is the optimal position for lead conversions.
SEM is a very controllable form of marketing, in the sense you have complete control over the budget, keywords and websites you wish to target. However, it must be managed closely or you can easily be outbid and spend your entire budget on ineffective keywords that won’t convert.
We periodically find that some customers base their entire strategy on outbidding their competitors in order to increase the value of the words. We don’t recommend this as it is considered to be a black hat tactic and in the case of keywords such as car models and make, you often end up competing against OEMs and local competitors.
SEM also includes any banner advertising or ad placement advertising that is shown on the right panel of the search results. Google offers a full banner advertising service, however, they limit the call to actions.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to improving a website’s natural and organic ranking in the search engine ranking pages. This method of achieving high ranking often takes time, usually 60-90 days for the search engines to find you, and is based on 2 main components.
On-page optimization includes factors such as: keyword density, title tag optimization, keyword rich content meta tags, sitemaps, link structure, index ability of the web page and much more.
- Off-page optimization includes the inbound links, the quality of the site that links to your website, relevancy of sites that link to you, and keywords in the anchor texts.
- At the end of the day which method is the best? It really depends on your budget, time, and resources. SEM’s short term advantage is that you can get instant qualified traffic to your website. The amount of traffic you want is dependent on the money you want to spend.
Keep in mind that you will run the risk of burning through your marketing budget very fast and have very low conversion rates if you do not closely research and optimize your keywords, and properly optimize your ads as well as the landing pages from where you direct traffic in Google.
SEO on the other hand is a long-term approach and uses many best practices. The best time to think about SEO is when you start building the website. The website architecture is key to SEO, including error pages, redirects, and even website coding. Original content, that is relevant and optimized and a solid “link-building” campaign will result in a website with a good ranking. SEO requires time and patience as well as a commitment to continually improve.
Lastly, be wary of anyone who offers you a guarantee a #1 Ranking. Contact us to learn more about how SEO works and how it can help you get better results without burning through your entire marketing budget.
Article by: Ecchita Rao, izmocars Strategic Account Manager, Mid & West Region.