Understanding SEO and SEM

What is SEO? What is SEM? Do you need both? Get answers and learn how to effectively use SEO and SEM to achieve your goals online.

Finger pointing to search bar icon

SEO and SEM are really two sides of the same digital coin. SEM is about getting traffic through paid ads, and SEO is more about acquiring, monitoring, and analyzing organic traffic.

So, how do the two relate and work together? And does your search strategy need both to work as effectively as possible?

In the following guide, we will discuss:

  1. What is SEO?
  2. What is SEM?
  3. How do SEO and SEM work together?
  4. Do I need both?
  5. Need assistance with your search marketing strategy?

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of enhancing your website’s visibility to improve ranking and gain organic traffic from search engines. People use search engines when looking for something they need, right? Well, most people click on something within the first page of search engine results (SERP). Always being in the mindset of your customer…that is the essence of SEO.

Google is by far the biggest search engine, garnering more than 7 billion searches a day (90,460 per second), so most SEO campaigns highly target this specific search engine.

Google and other search engines consider several ranking factors that influence where a webpage gets placed. In order to rise within SERP rankings, your business wants to create pages and content that work with the ranking factors of the search engine.

What is SEM?

Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a digital marketing strategy that uses paid advertising to ensure that your business’s products and services are visible in search engine results pages (SERPs). Advertisers bid on keywords that users enter on Google or Bing, giving brands the opportunity for their ads to appear alongside results for those searches.

With an increasing number of consumers researching and shopping for products online, SEM has become an important online marketing strategy for increasing a company’s reach and conversion.

One of search engine marketing’s greatest strengths is that it gives brands the opportunity to put their ads in front of people who are ready to buy at that precise moment.

How do SEO and SEM work together?

You can use SEO and SEM together to create an effective search strategy. SEO is the foundation for good SEM. When you have each set up properly, you have a better chance of getting high-quality traffic and improving conversion rates.

Once you have an SEO-friendly site and highly-targeted ads using the right keywords, you have a better chance of showing up at the top of paid searches. But you need to have SEO in place so that Google sees you as a credible site. If your website is new, you can prioritize SEM first as it can take a while for SEO rankings to become established.

Data from SEM helps SEO know which keywords or queries drive traffic to the website. Transferring SEM results to SEO provides an opportunity to optimize keywords and phrases that are most popular. When sites and landing pages are optimized, there’s a good chance that conversion rates will increase.

Do I need both?

It’s really up to you. But as we previously demonstrated, both tactics can have a positive effect on your search strategy. In fact, there’s a direct correlation between top rankings on Google and category leadership. In a world where first brand impression usually starts with a search engine, choosing not to participate with SEO or SEM is basically giving up that opportunity to your competition. By combining both SEO and SEM efforts, you can significantly enhance the quality of your site, increase your reach, and improve your online traffic.

Both SEO and SEM are tactics that help keep brands in the mindset of today’s consumer. We hope this blog helps differentiate the two marketing tactics and allows you to see how they can work together.

Need assistance with your search marketing strategy?

Cuker can help!

We provide both SEO and SEM solutions to enrich your site and search capabilities. Our proven strategies can increase rankings in search engines, improve brand exposure, boost conversions, and drive sales growth.

If you’d like to know how our SEO and SEM expertise can help your brand’s search marketing strategy, let’s talk.

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