An image of jellyfish for no reason at all except for it looks nice with this post about SEO and SEM.
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8 minuites
June 9, 2022

What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

SEO and SEM are both digital marketing strategies that aim to improve a website’s visibility online. SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, focuses on improving a website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) through techniques such as keyword research and backlinking.

On the other hand, SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, involves using paid advertising to improve a website’s visibility in search engine results pages. In other words, SEO is a part of SEM, but SEM includes other methods of website promotion beyond just SEO.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s unpaid results. This is often referred to as “organic” or “natural” results, as opposed to the paid advertisements that appear in search engine results pages. 

The goal of SEO is to increase the amount of traffic that a website receives from search engines, which can be accomplished by improving the website’s ranking in the search engine’s results pages for certain keywords or phrases. 

There are many different factors that can affect a website’s ranking in search engine results, including the quality and relevance of the website’s content, the number of other websites that link to it, and the overall user experience of the website. 

By implementing various SEO strategies, such as keyword research and link building, website owners can improve their website’s visibility in search engine results and attract more organic traffic.

What is SEM?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) through the use of paid advertising. 

This is typically done through a combination of paid search ads, which appear at the top and bottom of search engine results pages, and contextual advertising, which displays relevant ads on other websites that are related to the keywords that the user has searched for. 

SEM is a broader term than search engine optimisation (SEO), which refers specifically to the practice of improving a website’s organic (non-paid) ranking in search engine results. 

While SEO focuses on improving a website’s visibility in organic search results, SEM includes both paid and organic tactics and can be a more effective way to drive traffic to a website and generate leads and sales.

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform that allows businesses to display ads in Google’s search engine results and on other websites that are part of the Google Network. With Google Ads, businesses can create and run ads that are targeted to specific keywords and audiences, and they only pay when a user clicks on their ad. 

This allows businesses to reach potential customers at the moment they are searching for products or services that the business offers. Google Ads offers a range of ad formats, including text ads, display ads, and video ads, and it provides detailed reporting and analysis tools so that businesses can track the effectiveness of their campaigns and make data-driven decisions to improve their results.

Why choose google ads over SEO?

While search engine optimisation (SEO) and Google Ads both have their own advantages, there are a few key reasons why a business might choose to use Google Ads over SEO. 

First, Google Ads can provide faster results than SEO. While SEO can take time to improve a website’s organic ranking in search engine results, a well-designed Google Ads campaign can start driving traffic to a website almost immediately. 

This can be especially important for businesses that are looking to generate leads and sales quickly, or that need to respond to a fast-changing market or competitive landscape.

Second, Google Ads offers more control and flexibility than SEO. With Google Ads, businesses can choose exactly which keywords they want their ads to appear for, and they can adjust their bids and budgets to target specific audiences and regions. 

They can also test different ads and landing pages to see which ones are performing the best, and they can pause or stop their campaigns at any time. In contrast, SEO is more of a long-term strategy, and it can be difficult to predict and control how a website will rank for certain keywords.

Third, Google Ads can complement and enhance the effects of SEO. While SEO focuses on improving a website’s organic ranking in search engine results, Google Ads can help to drive additional traffic to the website from paid search results. This can help to increase the overall visibility of the website and boost its credibility with search engines and users. 

Additionally, by tracking the results of both SEO and Google Ads campaigns, businesses can gain a better understanding of their customers and the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.


Why would I choose SEO over SEM?

There are a few reasons why someone might choose SEO over SEM. Here are a few possible reasons:

  1. SEO is a long-term strategy that can provide sustained benefits over time. By contrast, the effects of SEM can be more short-term.

  2. SEO is a cost-effective way to improve a website’s visibility. While SEM can also be cost-effective, it typically involves paying for advertising, which can add up over time.

  3. SEO can help improve the overall user experience of a website. By optimizing the website for search engines, it can become more user-friendly and easier to navigate, which can lead to increased engagement and conversions.

  4. SEO can help build trust and credibility for a website. By appearing at the top of search engine results pages, a website can establish itself as a reputable source of information or products.

Of course, there may also be situations where SEM is the better choice, such as when a website needs to quickly increase its visibility or target a specific group of users. It ultimately depends on the goals and resources of the website owner.

I'm still confused. Should I just hire a Marketing Expert?

There are a few reasons why someone might choose to pay a marketing expert for SEM instead of doing it themselves. Here are a few possible reasons:

  • A marketing expert has specialized knowledge and experience in the field of digital marketing. They know how to create and implement effective SEM strategies that can help a website achieve its goals.

  • A marketing expert can save the website owner time and effort. Implementing an effective SEM strategy can be time-consuming, and it requires a certain level of expertise. By hiring a marketing expert, the website owner can focus on other aspects of their business while the expert handles the SEM.

  • A marketing expert can provide valuable insights and advice. They can conduct research to identify the best keywords and ad groups to target, and they can provide guidance on how to optimize a website for search engines. This can help the website owner make informed decisions about their SEM strategy.

  • A marketing expert can help the website owner track and measure the results of their SEM efforts. This can provide valuable data that can be used to continually improve the website’s performance and achieve its goals.

In short, hiring a marketing expert can provide a website owner with specialised knowledge, expertise, and support that can help them effectively implement and optimise their SEM strategy. 

You can always learn it yourself. We are creating a hands-on workshop that will teach you the skills to create and manage a business-specific SEM campaign that will bring you immediate results. 

Sign up for our newsletter to get a 50% discount (Sales pitch finished. I promise). 

Some examples of the type of strategies my business can use.

There are many different strategies that businesses can use to create effective Google Ads campaigns. Here are a few examples:

  1. Keyword research: One of the most important steps in creating a Google Ads campaign is to identify the keywords that are most relevant to your business and that have a high search volume and low competition. This will help to ensure that your ads are shown to users who are actively looking for the products or services that you offer.

  2. Ad group organisation: Another important strategy is to organise your keywords into tightly-themed ad groups, with each ad group containing a small set of highly-related keywords. This will help to ensure that your ads are relevant to the user’s search query and that they provide a good user experience.

  3. Ad copywriting: The text of your ads is critical to their success, as it needs to be attention-grabbing and compelling enough to encourage users to click on your ad. Your ad copy should include your targeted keywords and a clear and compelling call-to-action, and it should be tested and optimised regularly to improve its performance.

  4. Landing page optimisation: The landing page that users are taken to after clicking on your ad should be relevant and useful, and it should provide a good user experience. This means that the page should contain the information that the user is looking for and that it should be easy to navigate and read. Additionally, the page should include a clear call-to-action to encourage the user to take the next step, such as making a purchase or filling out a contact form.

  5. Conversion tracking: It’s important to track and measure the results of your Google Ads campaigns to see how they are performing and to identify areas for improvement. This can be done by setting up conversion tracking, which allows you to see which keywords, ads, and ad groups are generating the most conversions. This can help you to optimise your campaigns and allocate your budget more effectively.

Why we think it's important to run a Google Ads campaign alongside an SEO campaign.

Running a Google Ads campaign alongside an SEO campaign can be beneficial for several reasons. Some of the main benefits of doing this include:

  1. Reaching potential customers at different stages of the buying process: By running both an SEO campaign and a Google Ads campaign, you can reach potential customers who are at different stages of the buying process. For example, someone who is just starting their research on a topic may find your website through an organic search result, while someone who is ready to make a purchase may be more likely to click on your ad.

  2. Improving the visibility and performance of your website in search results: An SEO campaign can help improve your website’s visibility and ranking in organic search results, while a Google Ads campaign can help you reach your target audience through paid advertising. This can help increase your website’s traffic and improve its performance in search results.

  3. Reducing advertising costs and improving ad placement: An SEO campaign can help improve the user experience on your website, which can lead to higher quality scores for your Google Ads campaign. This can help reduce your advertising costs and improve the placement of your ads in search results.

Overall, running a Google Ads campaign alongside an SEO campaign can help you reach more potential customers and achieve your business goals more effectively.

To summarise..

SEO and SEM are two digital marketing strategies that can help improve the visibility and performance of a website in search engine results. 

SEO focuses on improving the visibility of a website in organic search results through techniques such as keyword research and link building, while SEM involves using paid advertising to reach potential customers through sponsored listings on search engine results pages.

Both SEO and SEM are important for helping businesses reach their target audience and achieve their goals, but they have different focuses and approaches. By using a combination of both SEO and SEM, businesses can maximise their visibility and reach in search engine results.

Chat with us about your business needs and we’ll help offer some advice and suggest some strategies that could help your business reach its goals no matter what your budget.

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