Search engine optimization and search engine marketing might sound like pretty interchangeable terms, but are they really? How do they differ, and what are the different types of SEO and SEM services you should expect to get when hiring an SEO/SEM specialist?
Firstly, it helps to ask what does SEO optimized mean, and what does SEM mean. Beyond simply their definitions, what is SEO, and what is SEM?
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization boils down to getting search engines, like Google, to list your site in results for the kinds of searches your potential customers would use. For example, if you are a plumber in NYC, you want to be listed in the results for a search for “plumber NYC”, not for “wedding cakes Brooklyn” or something else unrelated to your business.
What is SEM?
Search Engine Marketing is a series of marketing methods that are used to boost your search engine rankings and make your website more visible. SEO and content marketing is just one of these methods, albeit an important one. Many of the marketing methods are paid, while many search engine optimization techniques rely on organic growth.
What should you expect from an SEO/SEM company?
The better your website matches up to what people are looking for, the more your search engine rankings will improve and, eventually, you should be one of the first results people see. Effectively, what SEO optimization means for your business is increased, valuable and relevant website traffic. Some of the techniques used to do this happen on-page, for example, creating optimized content and information, while some happens off-page, on the back end of the site. In our next article, we’ll cover this in more detail.
Your SEM specialist will make sure that, while your content library is growing and helping you create a content optimized website, people are still finding your products or services when they need them, quickly and effectively. They will do this through various paid and organic services, like pay-per-click listings, paid advertising and natural backlinks, to mention a few.
But how do they go about it?
1 – Research
The first thing your SEO/SEM specialist will do is research everything to do with your SEO needs. This means researching what keywords your potential clients are using to find services like yours, seeing what your competitors are doing and finding out what kinds of websites are attracting the right kinds of customers.
2 – Strategy
Next, they will plan a strategy by laying out a detailed content plan and SEO plan. In other words, what is going to appear on your website, as well as in the background, to help you attract customers? Are you going to include a weekly or monthly blog? What keywords are you going to include? How often are you going to update your social media and will there be a live feed on your site? There are hundreds of questions that go into building a good strategy and keeping it updated and dynamic.
3 – Execution
Step three is making the strategy happen. They will populate the site with interesting and relevant content, ensure the right keywords are in place, and promote it using various SEM and social media techniques. It’s worth mentioning at this point that most strategies are ongoing – it’s not enough to put up a website and hope people find it; it needs to be constantly updated and promoted to stay relevant.
4 – Audit and Report
Your SEO/SEM specialist will also continuously monitor your website traffic, study the reports you receive about your engagement and update your strategy to suit the changing online environment.
Online content, SEO and SEM are dynamic, not static, and you need to stay on top of your game. Search engines are constantly evolving, and so is the way people search for information, which is why you should include SEO and SEM in your marketing plan and budget long term, not just once off – it’s the only way to get real results out of online marketing. Professional SEO/SEM specialists keep up with the constantly shifting goal posts of search engine rankings and make sure your company is getting the best benefit out of your online presence.
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What have been your SEO and SEM successes (and failures)? Leave a comment, I read every one.