Search Marketing or Search Engine Marketing? We’re raising this question early on because online there are discrepancies over what Search Engine Marketing is. Actually they disagree on what it should be called. It’s either Search Engine Marketing or Search Marketing. Like this:
So what was the term ‘SEM’ is now seen by some as just ‘Search Marketing’.
They’re clearly interchangeable.
But does it matter? To get started definitions aren’t necessarily important. However it’s probably a good idea to clarify what the terms mean to your business if you’re paying someone else to do it for you. Just to be on the safe side…
Let’s keep it simple: if you’re marketing your business on the internet you’ll need a mix of paid and unpaid activity to get yourself noticed.
And that includes:
When you enter a search term into a search engine and hit the ‘enter’ button, you get a page of results. These results are called Search Engine Results Page, or SERPs.
Some of the SERPs results will be organic, that is those gained naturally because a site’s content delivers just what the user is looking for. Other results, that usually appear at the top, on one side or the bottom, are ‘sponsored’ or ‘ad’ results.
And in theory, the higher you rank, paid or organically, the more clicks you get. So you want to be aiming for those top spots.
Search engine optimisation is the activity of making your website more relevant to online searches, and increasing its search engine rankings. It includes on page (such as keywords), off page (such as link building) and technical (such as site speed) elements. The best SEO is a perfect blend of it all.
Search engines send out ‘spiders’ to crawl the web pages of each site, taking a snapshot of the page content. The search engine’s algorithm then decides how well the page for a particular search term should rank.
In general the pages should:
You can read more on SEO in our search engine optimisation blog.
Paid search in it’s most basic definition is the ads that show up when someone searches for something online and when someone clicks, you pay a fee. As you pay for the click anyway ideally you want the person who has clicked to become a customer.
And of course other businesses are bidding on the same keywords as you and want those top spots.
Let’s use Google as an example because it’s the world’s largest search engine. To achieve the highest rankings in the search engine results, the adverts are placed in an auction.
But it’s not a case of paying the most to gain that top three ranking. Your placement comes from a combination of factors, with budget being only one of them. Your landing page and how well written your advert is also count.
You can read more on this in our PPC and paid search blog.
There are similarities between the two, and of course differences – beyond the basics that one is paid and the other is organic. For example:
Paid and organic both need keyword research and targeted keywords to work at their best
Part of both paid and organic marketing is about increased visibility in search engine results
Both require a good knowledge of your audience and what they want to see when they click
There are differences too:
With SEO it takes time to get good rankings in search results pages, whereas SEM starts the moment you start a campaign
SEM you pay each time a person clicks (there are variations on this but it’s basically about paying for clicks or impressions). With SEO the click is free
Paid ads can target highly specific audiences. It’s possible to target niche keywords with SEO, but you don’t get to choose who gets that result in the same way as with paid.
While the different techniques produce different results, you need to be present in both areas for the best results.
SEM or Search Marketing or whatever name you wish to give it, combines the best of both worlds. You get higher search rankings and put right into the minds of the people who are actively searching for your service.
Experienced marketers (like those at Revive, ahem) understand the relationship between paid and organic and how paid can affect organic clicks. But it’s not necessarily a direct affect, more of a halo effect scenario.*
For example people who see both paid ads and organic ads could be more likely to click the organic ads (see Googles’ ‘Incremental Clicks Impact of Search Advertising’ study – it showed that 89% of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads were paused).
Or searchers who’ve searched and seen or clicked an advert for a business may be more inclined to click the organic result. Also people who have clicked paid search ads may be more open to shares and links, thus improving the organic result.
These may seem insignificant , but it’s the knowledge of such details that makes for the extra ROI and more marketing mileage.
It also goes a little way to explaining why you need both SEO and S(E)M, and not just rely on paid-for online marketing.
Paid and organic both bring their own benefits. Paid for example can deliver your brand name quickly to a new audience. It can generate revenues quickly too and it reaches people on their terms – when they are ready for it. Paid can be highly targeted.
SEO is slower but once those great rankings are achieved it will burn for longer. Most websites traffic is from SEO and nothing builds trust in a brand like well-manufactured SEO pages. It’s also cheaper than paid.
The take-home? Get good at both. Or get someone to be good at them for you.
If you’re not on page one for your most important search terms you’re not ‘smashing’ it with search. So, if you want to explore Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation or just plain old Search Marketing you might like to give us a call.
People call us because we know things. Things like if you jump from position 10 to position 9 in Google search results, the click through rate isn’t really affected. If you jump from position 3 to position 2 your click through rate will significantly improve.
If this kind of knowledge appeals to you, we can help.
*If you want to know what the halo effect is, give us a call.