3 Benefits of Using SEO and SEM Together for Your Business
Whether you’ve just launched a new business or you’ve been tasked with growing an existing one, chances are you’re looking for ways to: a) get noticed and b) drive sales.
Sure, we all know that websites are crucial in helping businesses generate attention and potential customers. But just how do people find their way to a website?
One answer is: through online search engines – particularly the likes of Google and Bing, which are reported to account for 83% and 9% of the global desktop search market respectively.
Getting found on Google sounds easy, but when you’ve got so many competitors in your space, it can be a job in itself. Since most people don’t look past the first few listings on Google, you really need to be near the top to gain traction.
So how can you do that? What are your options?
What’s the Difference Between SEO and SEM?
A Brief Explanation of SEO
You’ve probably heard about search engine optimization, otherwise known as “SEO”, plenty of times around the virtual water cooler. It’s one of the most widely used terms (and strategies) in digital marketing, website design and lead generation.
Basically, it’s a key pillar in making sure your website stays relevant and findable.
In short, SEO focuses on optimizing a website to improve its rank in organic search results.
But what does that even mean?
Moz offers one of the best (and most concise) definitions of SEO that we’ve come across, so we like to refer to it:
“SEO… is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”
The main elements of SEO are:
- Quantity: If done right, SEO should help increase the number of visitors coming to your website by making it easy to discover.
- Quality: The goal with SEO is to make sure when someone enters a search term that relates to your business, they can find you – and to make sure you’re not inadvertently showing up in results that don’t relate to your business.
- Organic search engine results (SERPs): The key here is “organic” (as opposed to paid, which we’ll get to shortly). Organic search results are what’s populated after a user enters keywords into the search bar.
What do the results of SEO look like in practice?
Well, if we do a quick search for “flowers online”, we see the following organic search results show up in Google. That means Google deemed these websites the best match for us.
Although SEO might sound simple in theory, there’s a lot to it. No one truly knows the algorithms Google uses (don’t believe anyone who says they have the golden ticket!). And it’s only getting more complex.
However, by following common sense, and staying laser focused on creating an online experience that serves your clients/prospects in the best way possible, you’ll be moving in the right direction.
Bonus: Want a deeper dive on SEO and what matters today? Check out our Ultimate Guide to SEO for Your Business.
A Brief Explanation of SEM
Whereas SEO is about organic search results, search engine marketing (also known as SEM) uses paid advertising to improve a website’s search visibility.
SEM most commonly comes in the form of pay-per-click (PPC) ads where businesses are charged by Google (or Bing, Meta, etc.) every time a user clicks on an ad. You can see how this might become a bit expensive, but it can generate a strong ROI if done right.
Let’s look at another Google example, using the same search terms (“flowers online”):
As highlighted by the red boxes, you can see that paid results are noted with the word “Sponsored”. These are populated on the results page before organic results appear. Here, companies have paid to dominate the top positions.
These ads can appear across all digital spaces, including social media. However, social media PPCs look a little different and will be targeted to that particular algorithm for that user.
Where SEO is more long-term focused, SEM requires an up-front financial investment and is typically (but not always) a shorter-term strategy.
SEM is a good fit for promoting specific products/services, promos and events. The ads usually links to a landing page, which is a web page specifically designed to convert the audience coming from that ad.
Bonus: Want to learn more about search engine marketing? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Marketing for Your Business.
How SEO and SEM Can Work Together for Your Business
Both SEO and SEM rely on online search engines and, when used strategically, can launch you ahead in the search engine race.
But when you’re faced with the daunting task of creating a digital marketing plan for your business, which one should you choose: SEO or SEM?
Ding, ding, ding! The answer is both.
For many businesses, SEO and SEM should be used in tandem. A double threat, so to speak.
Here are three reasons for doing this:
1. Get Traffic to Your Website Faster
When you have a new website, it can take time for it to build efficacy and authority. Testing meta descriptions, title tags and copy to see which will perform better in organic search can be a long (and arduous) process.
Using SEM allows you to immediately drive traffic to your site using targeted keywording. Once your campaigns are up and running, you can start playing the SEO “long-game” armed with analytics and insights from your SEM campaigns.
Over time, websites that rank higher in organic search may not need to run as many SEM campaigns, since their audience is finding them via the first page of Google. That means you can free up marketing spend to put towards those other tactics you’ve been dying to try.
2. Power Up Your Keyword Strategy
Once some winning keywords are identified, you’re in a good position to start utilizing them in both your SEO and SEM strategies. A huge advantage to using SEO and SEM together is that both approaches can be used to target the same keywords.
What do we mean by “keywords” though?
Keywords are the words that users are entering into search engines when they are searching for content.
If your website uses these keywords, it signals to Google that the content on your website might just respond to a Googler’s query.
Basically, to make sure your website is SEO optimized, you’ll want to make sure that your website uses the terms that users are actually searching for.
Keywords are important for both SEO and SEM efforts. In SEM, you can explore keywords and test them out quickly, and then use these learnings to inform your longer-term SEO keyword strategies.
And as your website’s organic rankings and traffic starts to grow, you can dial down the amount you’re spending on SEM, and instead put these efforts towards SEO. You can also save SEM spend for specific launches, promos or events.
3. Fuel Your Content Plan
As we mentioned above, SEM lets you immediately target and test keywords and search terms. This data can offer insights and ideas to inform your content strategy by signaling to you whether your messaging and content responds to what your audience is looking for.
Based on your keyword research and results for SEM, you might uncover questions your audience is asking. Or topics they’re looking for more information on.
This allows you to create new content that can then be posted on your website to bolster organic traffic, or used as the destination for a paid search campaign.
See how this is all coming together?
A quick note on content creation: Google and other search engines will rank high-quality and value-rich content over content that is used simply for content’s sake. Search engines are looking for content that is reliable and trustworthy, so users continue to use their search engine.
While there are literally hundreds of factors that go into what determines a high-ranking website, Google is very clear in stating that websites should focus on “creating helpful, reliable, people-first content.”
While some things may be out of your control, there are many actions you can take to ensure your website content is well-positioned to rank. And that can start by combining insights surfaced through SEM data with your own know-how about creating content your audience will find valuable.
SEO and SEM: Together Like Two Peas in a Pod
Rather than approaching SEO and SEM as separate marketing approaches, the magic really happens when a savvy marketer knows how to use them together.
With a little coordination, SEM campaigns can be used to fuel longer-term SEO results, and vice versa, SEO strategies can be used to bolster future SEM campaigns.
Need Help Solving Your SEO and SEM Challenges?
Even with some education, SEO and SEM can take a lot of expertise – and the help of marketers and copywriters with years of experience.
Let our team’s expertise help solve your digital marketing problems – including SEO and SEM campaigns. Contact us today to find out how we can put a digital strategy together so you can maximize your efforts and shine online.