Generally speaking, search marketing refers to both paid search (SEM) and organic search (SEO). Lift Digital provides both of these services for clients in order to tap into existing demand in the market, but these two tactics are very different in their planning, execution, timeline, and expectations.
Paid Search Marketing (A.K.A. Search Engine Marketing or SEM) is the process of getting your ads in front of people conducting searches on search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) buy bidding on keywords.
For more information about Paid Search and what our paid search process is, click here to learn more.
Organic Search (A.K.A. Search Engine Optimization or SEO) is the process creating content, publishing that content on your website, and optimizing both the website and the individual pages (along with various page elements) in order to be shown more often and higher on the page in search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) when people are conducting searches.
For more information about Organic Search and what our paid search process is, click here to learn more.
What’s The Difference Between SEM and SEO
The main difference between SEM and SEO is that SEM is a paid search strategy and SEO is an organic search strategy. What this means is the with SEM you’re paying for the clicks you receive, and with SEO you’re not paying for clicks (which is a bit misleading).
BOTH tactics should be part of every marketing strategy since search marketing takes advantage of tapping into the existing demand there is in the market. People are actively looking for your information, product, and/or solution. You don’t have to convince them they need to buy something; you just have to convince them to buy YOUR something.
SEM and SEO can both provide website visitors to your website, but one difference is that when your SEM budget is exhausted (or not enough) the traffic stops while with SEO you can get as much website traffic as long as (1) people are searching for your targeted keyword phrase, and (2) you can hold onto a top spot in the rankings.
Another difference between SEM and SEO is that you can launch an SEM campaign in a relatively short amount of time and have your ads shown at the top of a search engine results page (SERP), but with SEO you have to have your web page crawled, indexed, and ranked and then there is no guarantee the search engines will like or display your listing where it can be found (new websites sometimes take months or years to earn a valuable first-page ranking).
How SEM and SEO results are displayed also differs greatly: SEM results are ads which can appear as shopping ads (usually at the very top of the page showing individual products) or listings at either the top or the bottom of the SERP. These ads have several different configurations which may include information at a store’s location, links to different pages on the advertiser’s website, the website link, a phone number, a review ranking, a discount, and potentially even a form to fill out. SEO results usually follow a more similar format of having the web page’s headline, name of company, description of the page content, and the website link. SEO results may also include a map of the business’s location along with other similar businesses, more detailed information about a business including photos, reviews, phone number, links to social media profiles, and even the ability to purchase online or place an order.
Another key difference in SEM and SEO is that with SEM you can frequently (and dynamically) change your ad copy and test which ad copy works the best, while with SEO your ad copy is what got you the ranking and if you change it the ranking will adjust accordingly.