There are several methods of marketing your business online. The two major choices that you have are search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). Although they seem and look similar, in truth they represent two opposite aspects of online marketing. They sometimes work hand in hand, but they can function completely independently of each other as well. Let’s take a look at what SEO and SEM are so that you can go into your next marketing meeting with a full understanding of both terms and what they can do for you.
What is SEO?
According to Search Engine Land, SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” Simply put, it is the process of getting traffic from search engines. SEO is any action that you take to improve the standing of your organic listings within search engines, especially the major search engines Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
The organic search engine listings are the listings that are in the center of the page. They are the most prominent, and they are also the most trusted in most cases. There is no way to buy your way into organic lists – you have to raise your position through the proper use of search engine optimization.
What is SEM?
According to Nashville Marketing Systems’ list of common SEO myths, search engine marketing, or SEM, is the discipline of placing ads effectively around the organic listings that are on the search engines. This includes pay per click (PPC) advertisements that appear at the top and sides of the organic listings in Google. One thing that you can count on is that organic listings will always be centralized, with ads around them.
Search engine marketing is the practice of getting the most bang for your buck from these advertisements. Unlike search engine optimization, search engine marketing is all about trading a fixed budget for a certain number of impressions or click-throughs. Unlike search engine optimization, buying as space is the only way that you can create a position for yourself when it comes to search engine marketing.
Do SEO and SEM work together?
The short answer to this question is yes, but they do not have to. Because both disciplines are concerned with different aspects of search engine listings, they can be used in tandem or completely separate from one another. Most companies will use search engine optimization and search engine marketing for different reasons, however.
In general, search engine marketing is used for short-term campaigns. Search engine optimization is used for longer-term campaigns. Search engine marketing can be used to determine better strategies for search engine optimization. In many cases, this is exactly what a company will do. Organic listings are meant to stay around for a while, with ads to bolster a company’s position for a seasonal sale or a short boost in web traffic.