The marketing strategies we used to hear about while growing up are nothing compared to the trends today. Marketing has evolved so much and taken over online platforms. The marketing jargon and lingo has not been left behind. It is this evolution that has brought about marketing terms like search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM).
What does SEO mean? Is it the same as SEM? Why are they always mentioned together? These are the questions you probably have. Well, “SEO vs SEM” makes an attempt to demystify these issue and offer some answers to your many questions.
The two terms (SEO & SEM) are often mistakenly used interchangeably. This is why there is so much confusion, even among marketers, pertaining to the two terms. There is a comparison or distinction between the two in terms of:
o Their definition
o Their inclusions, and
o The better of the two as online marketing tools
What is the meaning of search engine optimisation (SEO)? Google defines SEO as all the processes that are geared to increasing the user traffic on an individual website. This is achieved by having the website rank so highly that whenever users browse the internet for particular content that is part of the website, your webpage is displayed with priority.
Search engine optimisation is just a component of the larger SEM. This is to say that SEO is one of the SEM strategies. So, what does search engine marketing mean? SEM, according to Wikipedia, refers to an Internet marketing strategy that is adopted to enhance website visibility in search engine results pages (SERPS).
SEM is a very important tool used to promote websites and it incorporates search engine optimisation and advertising. The pecking order is quite clear now. However, SEO & SEM cannot be complete though without analysing their inclusions.
Search engine optimisation is made up of both off-page and on-page activities. The on-page activities include:
o Cleaning and formatting URLS on web pages
o Google’s authorship incorporated
o Page loading speed optimisation
o Quality optimisation of Blog posts
o Integration of social content within the webpage
o Use of keywords, meta descriptions, heading tags, and alternative text
The off-page activities include among others:
o Social bookmarkings
o Creating high quality backlinks
o Utilising social sharing signals
As said earlier search engine marketing is the outer bracket that within it contains search engine optimisation tools and advertising efforts. In addition to those two, SEM also includes paid search utilities like pay per click (PPC). The other SEM tool that bears close resemblance to pay per click is referred to as pay per view (PPV).
I believe that you will never again use the two terms interchangeably as the difference is too clear to ignore. SEM is the parent term that contains tools such as SEO, PPC and Social Media Marketing (SMM). The last thing we shall probably look at is the effectiveness of each of the online marketing tools and the advantages inherent in either.
The debate among marketers on which of the two is a better marketing strategy still continues. One thing that constantly comes up though, is that it all depends on your specific needs and the age of your brand or website. New websites are best boosted by PPC which is a part of SEM. The long run benefits of SEO outsmart the one that can be achieved with SEM.
In conclusion, I trust that the SEO vs SEM comparison has helped tone down the confusion among online marketers and internet users.