After a brief overview on internet marketing in the previous article, let us now look at the two major means of promoting or advertising your website/portal on the internet. They are: Search engine Optimization (SEO) and Search engine Marketing (SEM). Make no mistake, each of these are extensive areas of work, with many inherent and exclusive features.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO simply put, relates to organic search or free listings (left hand side of the search engine result page) on a search engine. The target for every website is to gain higher rankings on search engines to assure greater visibility and traffic. Thus, every strategy, every step taken to enhance your organic ranking on the search engine comes under SEO. Some of the key SEO techniques include directory submissions, article submissions, on-page optimization, social media optimization etc. Site design, tweaking of the HTML source code to make it search engine friendly and keyword optimization play a pivotal part in determining the success of SEO.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing refers to the paid form of advertising online. This refers to text ads on search engines, banner ads on different websites, image ads etc. For this form of advertising, the marketer has to fix a specific advertising budget and devise the precise strategy based on his budget. The paid search campaigns mainly work on the CPC or CPM models wherein the advertiser will pay a certain amount for each click or impression. Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing, MSN Ad Center are some of the leading paid search platforms that marketers have been successfully using for paid search ads.
SEO vs. SEM – Which is better?
You as an online marketing professional must have often faced a common question from your CEO/CMO/decision makers (THE BOSS) – Which is better, SEO or SEM? The answer is both! In fact, ideally a comprehensive online marketing strategy must look to encompass both these avenues and maximize the returns that each of them can provide.
However, before you start off, you can explain your BOSS the pros and cons of SEO and SEM in the following way:
A Few Tips:
The next most important question is how to start? Whether to make a start with SEO or with SEM? Further, how to manage both simultaneously? The following points will help:
1. A good way of starting your online marketing efforts is to start with paid search. This gives you an immediate idea of the keywords that work for your business and those that you can just delete.
2. You can start with doing SEO for your long-tailed keywords first as getting rankings for your core keywords may be difficult, especially if they are highly competitive. You can do paid search ads for your core keywords till then, and once you get a good enough SEO ranking, you can lower your paid search budget. Sounds cool, right?
3. For making your SEO efforts successful, do not indulge in keyword stuffing or cluttering your website with too many links. Remember, your site is for your customers and not the search engines.
4. For SEM, do not start with huge budgets. Start with lower bids/daily budget and then move on to increasing them as per the results.
Thus, both SEO and SEM can drive your online marketing efforts in their own way. It is fair to say they are two sides of the same coin and can be equally fruitful to enhance your online presence.