Like any other technology, search is growing fast and is evolving with time. Which means there’s a bigger opportunity for businesses of all sizes to leverage it to reach out to their target audience and connect to them.
There are many ways to gain online exposure, but Google still leads the pack when it comes to helping you get the best results. However, there is one dilemma you may face as a business when trying to use the search engines to grow. And that is whether to focus your efforts on search engine optimization or search engine marketing.
In other words, should you invest in SEO, or invest in SEM?
First of all, let’s understand both.
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the part of search marketing that uses organic tactics to gain visibility in SERPs. With SEO, you won’t need to pay for placement on SERPs. Instead, you can use a variety of tactics that prompt search engines to show your content near the top of SERPs because the result is valuable and authoritative.
SEO includes hundreds of tactics that can help businesses increase their search rankings. These techniques are often grouped into three categories :
1. On-page SEO
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages by :
- Matching search intent
- Covering a topic in-depth
- Using short and descriptive URLs
- Writing tempting title tags and meta descriptions
- Using descriptive alt tags for images (where appropriate)
- Writing simple and easy to read content
- Including keywords in important places
2. Off-page SEO
Off-page SEO is anything done outside a website to improve its rankings. Such as:
- Getting backlinks from relevant and authoritative websites
- Earning brand mentions
- Optimizing your Google My Business listing
- Earning positive reviews
3. Technical SEO
Technical SEO involves making technical changes to help search engines crawl, index, and rank content more efficiently. These optimizations include:
- Improving page speed
- Using canonical tags to prevent duplicate content
- Using hreflang tags for multilingual content
- Optimizing robots.txt for crawl efficiency
- “No indexing” thin content
A strong SEO plan doesn’t focus on just one of these three types of SEO but instead combines all three strategies to produce the best results.
What is SEM?
Often referred to as paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. Search engine marketing is the part of search marketing that uses PAID tactics to gain visibility in SERPs.
A paid SEM strategy includes both the activities involved with setting up and optimizing ads as well as setting a budget that pays for the placement of ads.
Using Google Ads, you can conduct keyword research and create campaigns that target the best keywords for your products, or services. Then, when users search for those keywords, they see the custom ads at the top or bottom of SERPs, your company is charged each time a user clicks on the ad.
SEO vs SEM: Which Should You Choose?
For some businesses, SEO makes complete sense while SEM is out of question. And for some SEO may not seem viable when compared to the benefits of SEM.
If you are an accounting agency that needs to generate local business and is no hurry to do so, building and executing a solid SEO strategy can work out great in the long run. But if you’re a lawyer competing with other legal agencies in the competitive SEO space, you may be better off buying PPC ads to get better results.
It is essential to analyze your existing goals and how they co-relate to your overall business objective. You have to create an online marketing strategy that clearly guides you towards leveraging the right method.
Balancing SEO and SEM
If you are a business that truly cares about creating a strong online presence and getting better returns in both, short term and long run, then you should balance both SEO and PPC together.
The goal is to avoid leaning too heavily on one strategy or the other by Balancing your immediate SEM results with your long-game SEO strategy. That way, you’re building yourself up as a market authority at the same time you’re creating an active customer base.
We’ll share three tricks of combining SEO and PPC marketing strategies in order to yield more powerful results for your business.
1. Keyword Data Sharing
In SEO, developing a keyword strategy is essential for ranking the website on search engines. While in PPC ad campaigns, keywords are used to target customers who are closer to making a purchase.
Running organic and PPC campaigns together gives you more data to analyze the keywords that have the highest conversion rate.
Use Long-tail SEO keywords to help you identify the negative keywords that don’t work for your PPC campaign. This combined effort can help you optimize your overall marketing strategy.
2. Maximize Your Business Exposure on SERPs
When SEO and PPC work together, you benefit in maximizing your business exposure on SERPs. Companies who rank number one for a given search term often tend to reduce or eliminate PPC effort.
Yet it is important to consider that for most SERPs, the top two or three results are always PPC ads.
By leading in both organic and paid search results, you can give the impression to your potential customers of being an established brand in a particular market and gain relevant traffic.
3. Use PPC Ads to Refine Your SEO Content Strategy
You can use PPC ads that target specific groups and result in the most conversions to get valuable data about key demographics, and test page attributes to refine your SEO strategy and create SEO-friendly content that works well to rank your web pages organically.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (PPC) may be two distinct marketing strategies with unique roles and purposes, but they can be combined or used separately to lead to surprising results.
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Here’s how you can do so:
- Collect conversion related data from your PPC campaign and use it to convert your organic search visitors better. Also, keywords that worked for you in PPC are best to optimize your website for, so using them for SEO purposes makes sense. Your PPC campaign will end, but the rankings you achieve for the same keyword will remain for quite some time.
- Work on both paid ads and organic search listings to double your traffic by increasing your visibility in the SERPs. This especially gives great results when you’re aiming for competitive keywords that need a bigger PPC budget.
- Use keywords that are too expensive for you to invest in or are not delivering a lot of traffic for SEO. This way your PPC efforts will only be directed towards keywords that have a better ROI.
- Ad copies that are performing well can be used in the meta description of your website’s organic listing to increase the click-through rate.
- Test different keywords with PPC ads before investing in them to improve search engine rankings. The purpose of running small test PPC campaigns for these keywords is to find out whether they are worth optimizing for.
By being active in both, SEO and SEM, you’d be able to reach out to more potential customers and build even more brand awareness. Which ultimately results in higher visibility and better returns.
Knowing your business and its long term goals is important to create an online marketing strategy that gives results. But by focusing on SEO and SEM, you are automatically taking a better approach than your competitors who are focusing on only one of these powerful methods.
This, of course, differs from business to business, but if you want to improve your chances of success, then it makes sense to have an optimum search strategy that involves both, SEO and SEM.