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  • Writer's pictureSanne Butterfield

The Facts: SEO + SEM

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

Not the most juiciest of topics, but this comes up so often that I have created a factsheet addressing SEM and SEO, the definitions, key attributes, pros, cons, differences and their combined efforts. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is a form of internet marketing that aims to promote websites by increasing their visibility in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

≈ Key attributes: Paid search ads (PPC, or pay per click) are the major techniques of SEM to drivetraffic. SEO also sits under the SEM umbrella. It is seen as the organic “unpaid” brother that also increases search visibility. Bing and Google are biggest. (consider RLSA, remarketing list for search ads for pervious visitors to your or search partner sites).

• Google Ads (Adwords) allows you to choose between Five different campaign types: Search Network, Display Network, Video (YouTube), Shopping, and Universal Apps.

• Ad Rank determines how an ad gets shown. Based on, your bid, available inventory space with google, your Quality Score.

Ad Rank is crucial it determines your ad position on page and if your ad will show at all.

• Quality Score made up of determining factors: your bid, expected CTR (based on past performances), landing page experience, ad relevance based on “ad language” in relation to “search query” and the ad format (inclusion of site link, address and phone number can help boost).

High score is discounted rate, bad score is more expensive.

Google recommends setting a max CPC bid of $1.

Keywords selection is key! Broad match, Phrase match, Exact match, Negative match.

≈Pros: control, sophisticated targeting instant results, increased visibility, customised ad options (search and display) based on geographic location, time of day, budgetand audience, sophisticated post/during campaign result measuring.

≈ Cons: risky if not used in an optimum manner, requires a systematic short-term and long-term plan to keep momentum. The moment you stop your PPC campaign, you may not get as many hits.

≈ Fact: PPC earns 80% of SEM campaign budgets but is only responsible for less than 25% of all search traffic.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a form of SEM that deals with organic website’s ranking on a Search Engine Result Page (SERP). The technique of SEO is to improve the search engine rankings of a website, give it more visibility and hence, more traffic. Goal: leave enough clues for the bots/spiders to want to include your website in their index.

≈ Key attributes:techniques involved are both architectural and performance: Technical SEO, On Page SEO, Content SEO, Off Page SEO, Local SEO.

• Technical SEO: Technology stack (server, domain, subdomains, redirects, HDP, HDPS and all error handling), Information architecture (navigation, sitemaps, indexing and content), URLs folder structure, linking) and Site structure (structure, data, tags, page speed, images and usability).

• On page SEO: html code, keywords, metadata like tags and mark-ups to determine relevance (use relevant keywords with a density of 2/3% on your web page in the file name, Meta description (info under url at serp), title page and image tag/name.

• Content SEO: relevant keywords and topics, develop incredible content, deliver quality user experience, follow latest search engine guidelines (your website should meet the needs of the target audience and be a direct answer to the user’s search query).

• Off page SEO: Links to websites (‘link juice’/‘back linking’): the more high quality inbound the links the higher the authority rating. Quality over quantity.

• Local SEO: Boost your Organic Search by opting your rating by Google:

- add your business to Google Local Listing + Google Map (see link: “Google My business”)

- fill out detailed business info (relevance)

- distance to search

- prominence: reviews, business, NAP (name, address, phone) on local platforms like Yelp, referring links and websites.

- real time engagement metrics determine quality and relevance

- interactivity over static

- Google EAT: prove your worth to Google by demonstrating: Expertise (truthful, useful content demonstrating you are the industry leader/expert), Authoritativeness (credentials, reviews), Trustworthiness (install SSL certificate: business registration online + costumer protection + Secure Socket Layer https).

≈ Pros: generate traffic, awareness, conversation, build long-term trust and credibility

≈ Cons: time consuming, no overnight quick fix results, at the mercy of search engine algorithms and updates

≈ Fact: SEO drives 75% of all search traffic, only 15% of marketing campaign budgets goes to SEO.

Note -- voice recognition will grow and impact on SEO, longer questions. Phone calls are very important too (handsfree operating: Siri call local hospital ED etc.)

Difference between SEM + SEO? SEO tends to give back quality hits, and higher rankings but that may take years. SEM, on the other hand, is quick and tends to give you instant results, like a lot of hits in a very short period of time. SEO vs SEM can be simple explained. SEO is equity, where you add something every few days and get results later, SEM, on the other hand, is the instant result for every rupee spent. As the rupee stops coming in, so do the benefits. In the short term battle of SEO vs SEM – SEM comes out the obvious winner. In the long term battle of SEO vs SEM – SEO wins hands down. Best strategy is to practise ongoing combined efforts: SEO techniques + Content Optimisation + Social Media optimisation Important combined factors for SEM + SEO: - the website content - the website structure and internal links - the searchers geographical location - mobile/user device specific optimisation - loading times - server accessibility - social signals (from social networks) - Page Rank: counts the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important a website is. Keep in mind… When creating content. Know your costumers search behaviour: What drives people in their search? - Do? (buy or order something) - Know? (find answer to a question) - Go? (navigational) - Search? (type in url, most typed into google are: facebook and youtube)


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