When it comes to establishing an effective online presence, SEO and SEM are two acronyms everyone needs to know. SEO stands for search engine optimization, while SEM is all about search engine marketing. The two terms are often used interchangeably, and they do have plenty in common, but they're not the same thing.
SEM: A Definition
Search engine marketing is essentially a kind of internet marketing focused on pushing websites and webpages up through the search engine results pages via both advertising and optimization. There are various techniques and systems involved with search engine marketing, including the option for site owners to pay for PPC (pay per click) ads at the top of the search engine results pages, putting their links right at the front of the line.
The Benefits of SEM
The most obvious benefit of SEM is that it allows you to quickly and effectively get your pages listed high in the search engine rankings. It's the fastest way to get more clicks on your pages and generate more leads. It also allows you to boost brand awareness, target the right audience, push your products ahead of the competition, and enjoy a better return on investment (ROI) compared to other marketing techniques.
What is the Connection between SEM and SEO?
While SEM often involves paying for marketing tools to push pages up the search engine results, SEO is focused on adapting and adjusting pages to give them better search engine rankings organically. Ultimately, SEO is a component of SEM; it's just one additional form of marketing.
Top SEM Tips
Now that we understand exactly what SEM is and how it differs from SEO, let's take a look at some smart tips to help you set up an effective SEM strategy.
Start Off Small
In the beginning, it makes sense to take baby steps with your SEM strategy. Since SEM involves some form of investment on your part, it's important to monitor your budget accordingly and start off with just a few focused campaigns, rather than taking on too much. Begin with just a few campaigns, analyze the results, and then use what you learn to launch your next campaigns.
Choose the Right Platform
There are several SEM platforms out there, including Google Adwords and Bing Ads, and each platform has its ups and downs. Some are better suited for certain audiences, while others might be more effective at advertising certain types of sites or businesses. Ask yourself some questions about what you want to get from your SEM campaigns and compare platforms accordingly to make the right call.
Use Every Tool You Can
There are plenty of tools out there to help you make your SEM campaigns stronger and more effective. One of the best places to start is the queries section of Google Analytics, which lets you find associated keywords that are relevant to your subject matter or business goals. Many of these SEM-related tools are totally free and easily accessible too, so be sure to use them as often as you can.
Be Real With Your Users
Users won't be happy if they click on an ad that says one thing but it leads to a page that says something totally different. The vast majority of users want to find whatever they're looking for quickly and easily, so if you waste their time with ads that lead to landing pages that don't quite correspond to their search, you'll only frustrate and alienate them. Ensure that your ads are honest.
Review Data All The Time
One of the main pitfalls many business owners fall into with SEM is failing to review and act on the data they collect through their campaigns. You should never simply set up ads and then sit back, expecting the customers to simply roll in. You need to be constantly reviewing the performance of your ads and making adjustments like adding new keywords, replacing keywords that aren't working, etc. in order to ensure that your marketing efforts are bearing fruit.
Brittney Ashley, CEO