Do you know the difference between SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing)? They are the two sides of the same coin. Both techniques are used to capture traffic to a website. But one of them is more immediate, for the short term. And the other is a more long-term investment.
Have you already guessed which is of them is the best for you? Well, in case you still do not know, here we explain it to you. SEO deals with organic results; those that occupy the top positions of Google search results. And the SEM are those results from the beginning that are classified as ads.
In general, the ads are activated when the search denotes an intentional purchase, or search for information about a product. And they are also distinguished from organic results because they are identified with a small label that says: “Ad” or “Sponsored.” This is the first difference between SEO and SEM is how the results appear in the searches.
SEO: A Long-Term Strategy
The SEO positioning is all those techniques that are used to position a web page organic Google searches. Disregard all those promises that tell you that SEO is very simple and things like that. Therefore, the other big difference between SEO and SEM is its term to obtain results.
SEO is a long-term technique. Positioning a result on the first page of Google depends on many factors (hundreds of possible factors).
The key at the beginning is to use the technique called “long tail.” Use more extended keywords, with fewer searches but less competition.
SEM: For The Short Term And Maintenance
The SEM is used primarily for two reasons:
- To capture visits to a website from the beginning of a project, when we do not yet appear in the organic positions.
- To take advantage of all opportunities, because if we do not take advantage of it, the competition will do it.
The results that Google will show for “sports shoe” will be different from “Nike second-hand shoe in L.A.” There will be few who seek the latter, but their intention is much more specific.
This is why this technique of publishing ads in search engines, mainly Adwords advertising, is used both in the short term to start receiving users who visit the web, and long-term to continue maintaining market share in this segment of the advertisements.
There are searches in which it is very complicated to appear on the first page of results. Imagine that you sell sports shoes. Appearing on the first page for the search “buy sneakers” is going to be a real marathon in the long term. That is if you will ever get there.
You would compete no more and no less than against real giants like Amazon. There is nothing, imagine what it would be like to fight against these giants. Indeed, a waste of time and resources.
That’s why the ads if it is made it very clear, give us the opportunity to compete against these giants and have the opportunity to appear in searches that would otherwise be almost impossible.
Differences Between SEO and SEM
Let’s see the most salient differences between one technique and another.
- Deadlines – It is said that the SEM is short term, and SEO is long term. Although, as you have already seen, there are sectors where the SEM is practically mandatory if you do not want to lose any opportunity to attract customers. From the moment we have configured our campaigns and “we give the button,” we will begin to appear in the searches of hundreds or thousands of users (well, the amount already depends on your budget). However, to appear in the organic results, it is necessary the work for many months, or even years, to gain positions little by little. In fact, when a website is new, it is said that there is a period in which Google still does not take you seriously, which is usually about six months. And no matter how much you have done an exceptional previous work, it will cost you to appear in the first pages of the search engine for a few months. It is what is known as the “Sandbox” of Google.
- Cost – The costs are another difference between SEO and SEM. The SEM is paid. We decide a budget to invest, and we are charged for every click that is made in our ads. That’s why these campaigns are also called PPC (pay per click). SEO is free; you do not have to pay anyone to appear in the results. However, the cost in time and hours worked is usually higher than in the case of the SEM. The organic positions in the search engines are not supposed to be manipulated. There are hundreds of criteria and parameters to take into account for a page to appear before or after others. Some rules of the game that you must know, and that you must be very careful not to try to alter so as not to suffer penalties. The first are techniques to manipulate the algorithms (sometimes even unethical), and the second is to work to get up positions, but within the rules of the game.
- Positions in the search engine – In the SEM, in addition to occupying the first positions of the results, you can also show ads at the end of the page: The SEM always occupies the beginning and the end of the page, and SEO always occupies the central part of the search results.
- Keywords – Both techniques are based on the optimization of keywords but have a significant difference in focus when we perform the strategy for one or the other. Although there are different tools for SEO and SEM, Google’s keyword planner is often used in both to start charting the strategy. When we search for keywords, the tool returns all the words related to the theme chosen, as well as the volume of monthly searches for each one, and the difficulty for each keyword or level of competence.
And this is where the massive difference between SEO and SEM lies:
While in SEM, we discard those keywords that have a small number of searches, SEO can be very interesting because the competition is low and will accelerate the process of positioning in an organic manner. Also, in SEM, we also look at the cost per click of each word (it is indicative, but it gives us an idea of the existing competition between advertisers), and in SEO we look at other parameters such as the authority of the page.
Despite what you might guess, calls to businesses are not decreasing as investment in digital marketing grows. Instead, the investment in digital marketing has actually led to a dramatic rise in calls to businesses.