SEO v/s SEM: The Difference You Should Know

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You wish to expand your business and get more sales online. In the quest, you take the help of Google, and you get suggestions like SEO, SEM, etc. The options seem pretty interrelated with just a difference of one word. 

You are more confused than before because you don’t know which one to choose, SEO or SEM. In fact, you even don’t know the fundamental difference.

Here is what you have been looking for… The much-needed explanation!!

How exactly SEO differs from SEM?

SEO differs from SEM in many aspects, an important one being ‘SEO provides organic results while SEM is a paid strategy.’

Above could be the best answer for people who have a little know-how about the two online business growth strategies, but this simple-looking topic has more explanation to come forward. Therefore, let this blog start with some basics about SEO and SEM, further dwelling into differences, similarities, and everything you need to know about them both. 

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is an essential practice of making your website discoverable on Search Engine Result Pages. It is more of an organic approach to building a website’s credibility and authenticity so that the website complies with the algorithm of search engines and ranks in the top five SERPs. 

SEO actually brings visibility to your website, so that target customers find it easy to locate your services and make the purchase. 

Four building blocks of SEO

SEO further includes various sub-strategies to improve the quality of the website and strengthening E.A.T (Expertise, Authority and Trust) principles as coined by Google. It involves checking various parameters and bringing improvisations. Therefore, you should hire a skilled SEO expert for your website because he will take less time to show beneficial results. 

Let’s look at the four building blocks:-

  1. On-Page SEO – As the name suggests, the whole work is done on the website. It helps search engines understand the website’s core services and other factors like H1, title, Meta tag, image alt tags, keywords, meta description, URL, internal linking, speed, etc. Moreover, the mandatory changes that are done under on-page optimization are – 

2. Off-Page SEO – Under this subcategory of SEO, activities are done outside the website. You can take it as credibility building of the website with techniques like link building, social media marketing, guest blogging, and brand mentioning. 

Some activities that are carried outside include –

3. Technical SEO – A website is nothing but a structure prepared with codes. Its smooth functioning and proper working depend on factors like the website’s speed, crawlability, data structure, indexing, and security. If a website is not perfect in the aspect of its technical features, it is not taken as a credible source by search engines. Therefore, the technical SEO optimizes the technical factors and makes the website more credible. The work includes-

For successful SEO strategies of your business, all these core pillars must be considered. Having said that, it is only possible when you have an expert right beside you like RankingXpress Digital

4. Content – As the saying goes, your website is ‘Kingdom’ and content is the ‘King.’ A soulful and authoritative content represents your website to the core and helps your target audience to understand your takeaways. Therefore, the website content should be crisp and purposeful. It must go by the service industry, linking all the broken ends.

Content on your website can be further broken down into three categories –

As the content hold this much importance, it needs to be qualitative, trendy, relevant, speaking of usefulness, and keyword optimized. You can further as other elements like media to make it more appealing.

You may read our recently published blog: Is SEO Worth the Expense?

SEM – Search Engine Marketing 

Unlike SEO, SEM or Search Engine Marketing is a paid service to gain visibility on top SERPs. Often people find SEM synonymous with PPC, which most people do not coincide with. According to them, PPC is one of the sub-strategies that are involved in SEM.

The popular strategies involved in SEM are –

SEM deals in paid services like Google ads, Bing ads, Gmail ads, YouTube ads, search ads, etc. The whole campaign starts with the research of most searched keywords that are targeted later to attract traffic. 

The noticeable difference between SEO and SEM

SEO and SEM are strikingly different from each other. The differences can be shown well with factors like cost incurred in running campaigns, time-taken to show results, click-through rates, credibility and authority added, visibility, etc. 

The table

Factors SEOSEM
Marketing Type InboundInbound and Outbound both
Cost involved FreePaid as the clicks
SERP ranking Appears in organic search results with featured snippetsListed on the of SERP with ad extension
Time taken in results Takes timeShort and immediate
Click-through rate HigherLower
Visibility Shown to everyoneShown to target users
Credibility HigherLower

Although the table has precisely defined how SEO differs from SEM, yet a few factors need to be discussed briefly. So let’s get started. 

Cost Involved – SEO v/s SEM

SEO has been a favorite strategy for generating organic traffic 24/7. The process gives your website the required organic traffic and recognition. As the traffic increases, the website’s credibility also increases paving ways for better recognition and sales. 

On the other hand, SEM or PPC is a money constraint technique. You need to pay for it to keep running and targeting credible users. Once the paid campaign is over, the traffic disappears and sales go down. So, at this point, you can consider SEO a free-of-cost traffic generation process in spite of SEM. However, you will have to hire experts for better SEO results and pay for high-quality content. Overall, after paying for a skilled expert and high-quality content, SEO will still be more cost-effective. 

Time-taken to show the results – SEO v/s SEM

The speed of showing results could be a contrasting difference between the two strategies. If precisely put, SEO takes time while SEM does not! Especially when you have launched a new website, it will take a lot of time. 

According to experts from RankingXpress, a new website may take 1 year on average to rank first on Google SERP. But that depends upon the brain working behind the SEO campaign. An expert campaign maker can produce results as soon as in 3 months only. Being said that, it is very crucial to choose the right-brainer to plan your SEO campaign. 

Now, as you talk about SEM, results are instant. You may start seeing conversions from the afternoon if you have paid for the campaigns in the morning. But results of SEM are short-lived till you are actively paying for the campaign.

The key point to note here is that – ‘traffic scores nil when you stop the payment!!!’

Which should be your go-getter? – SEO v/s SEM

Well, this is a pretty tough question because both contribute to your earnings at one point in time. On the one hand, SEO builds the credibility of your website; SEM brings you sure sought conversions. 

So, the question should be – when to focus on each campaign

For example, if you are a new service in the market and have just launched a website, you need to adhere to SEO and bring more organic traffic. Having SEO right from your budding entrepreneurial phase will help ease your budget and get organic visibility on SERPs. 

Later, after six months or so, when your website has gained enough authority and credibility, and you have a consistent budget, invest in SEM, manage Adwords account and launch landing pages. 

Your decision must also depend on factors like –

The similarities: SEO v/s SEM

You have seen contrasting differences between SEO and SEM; you must also understand the similarities both strategies could have.

Can SEO and SEM be combined?

Generally, experts suggest not combining both strategies and working with them at one time. However, if you still plan to combine both, you must have the ability to differentiate and integrate both channels.

Your first focus should be search engine optimization for traffic generation within six months. Later you can find the need for paid campaign and work accordingly.

You can use SEM insights as a testing bed for your SEO. With the help of SEM insights, you can see test conversion rates, keyword performance, etc.

Gain viability on the top of the SERP and in between organic search results with both strategies.

The final put

SEO and SEM are two totally different strategies that cannot replace each other’s worth. People will have to understand the difference and value of these strategies to generate more business and gain over competitive advantages. 

All in all, you will require a highly experienced Digital Marketing Agency like RankingXpress Digital. The SEO services experts and PPC services experts here will guide you in every decision being taken for the betterment of your website.

You can read our recently published blogs:

7 Tested Techniques to Improve SEO Ranking on Google

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Is SEO Still Relevant In 2021? Things You Need To Know?

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Every passing year, many old SEO trends gradually sink into oblivion and many new surfaces to make another history. But every year, trends that drive into the SEO industry depend upon factors surrounding the consumer market and Google Algorithm changes. 

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Similarly, this 2021 and whole world awaits new SEO trends to follow and act up on. However, a few people in your knowledge might also be thoughtful about its relevance because almost every field has some setback after a pandemic struck the cord. 

For such people, it would be mandatory to know that SEO is not going anywhere. In fact, it will grow to be stronger and bigger. Moreover, with time, every organization will have to optimize their website presence according to the changes made by Google Updates.

SEO will emerge and remain evergreen

Many articles in 2020 claimed that SEO would sink into oblivion in 2021 to never to come back. SEO will remain intact with the arrival of some new updates and some old trends being reabsorbed in other divisions of digital marketing. 

This year, search engine optimization will give more importance to local SEO, and other parameters like structured data will seep in. All in all, SEO 2021 is going to be more competitive and highly technical. 

It will even challenge SEO experts to learn the new trends and become adaptable as soon as possible. But before you all get overwhelmed about the hard work needed in the future, let us first learn about the SEO trends in 2021.

You can also read: 7 Tested Techniques to Improve SEO Ranking on Google

The new SEO trends of 2021 to become more relevant 

Google will implement a new methodology named ‘Core Web Vitals’ to rank websites for better user experiences. It will now trust User Metrics to make the final decision about websites’ ranking on SERPs. This new methodology will be a tie-breaker when two or more websites have relevant and high-quality content.

Also, core web vitals will help webpages to qualify for Top Stories on Google Bar.

How will you do it?

Core web vitals have multiple factors to improve on. Overall you will have to improve vitals, including page contents, page speed, UX report, etc.

In 2016, Google took this erstwhile decision of ranking websites based on their mobile version instead of the desktop version. However, the implementation took more considerable time than thought. Now, Google has made it a clear verdict. Now, Google has completed the process. Its transition will start from March 2021. The websites with no mobile version will be ruled out while ranking on search pages. 

How will you do it?

Get to know the checklist prepared by Google and implement it as soon as possible. You should make sure that your mobile version responsive. 

EAT stands from Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Although it is a controversial topic in the SEO world, yet it has immense use. It is slightly on the fair side to say that Google cannot accurately answer EAT-related questions; however, it can still check whether the content present on certain websites is relevant to the search phrase or not. 

How will you do it?

To implement EAT factor, you will have to follow secure protocols and strengthen your backlinks. Old backlinks will also do wonders in this case. 

In the beginning, Google served suggestions based on the proximity to the local user (searcher). It sometimes allowed users to land to the best services nearby, and sometimes they felt cheated. 

However, over the course of time, Google shifted its parameters and influenced local businesses a lot with its new tools. With GMB (Google My Business), it has opened new proximity for service providers to stay afloat at the front. 

But with this, the complexity has risen. That can only be eased if the experts have full command over GMB and its new features. 

How will you do it?

You can overcome the obstacles by getting trained in GMB and its implications. You should fully optimize your Google My Business listings and upgrade every attribute, including reviews, questions & answers, correct address, communication information, etc.

With the passing of time, Google has collected more than 5 billion entities, not only people but also songs, movies, books, companies, etc. This number has to grow bigger in the coming year, which will have a visible impact on Search Engine Algorithms. 

Moreover, why wait for the future while Google has already started implementing entities based on web ranking rather than based on Backlinks. The model will help Google understand the trustworthiness of various companies catering to the same services or relatable products in the online market. 

How will you do it?

This task can be a tad more complicated with respect to backlinks and related keywords. Here the organizations will have to define entities related to business/products, claim their GMB profile, etc. Here, the use of structured data will work wonders.

Google has been taking a great leap in AI (Artificial Intelligence) since time immemorial. It started with RankBrain in the year 2015 and then culminated into BERT in the year 2019. It made it pretty feasible for Google to answer queries in a better way and produce search results. 

In the series, BERT has become the most renowned tool and has been used nearly 100% for queries in the English Language. With the help of BERT, it will be easy to get the gest of queries made by users to answer it in better ways even if the searched phrase has incorrect spellings, lexical ambiguity, etc. 

How will you do it?

For utilizing BERT efficiently, websites will have to produce content for users, not for Google search. You will have to place keywords more sincerely rather than stuffing in awkwardly. It will require great command over writing skills. 

Structured data implementation has never been a new thing in the SEO world. It has been there for many years, but its importance has grown over time. With many recipe websites trending in recent decades, it has been fruitful for a neat presentation.

In 2021, when local SEO will become of more importance, structured data will be coherently used. Local businesses, with its help be able to mark their company address and details for better search results. 

How will you do it?

Gaining Expertise in structured data will force you to learn HTML and imply it with Structured Data Markup Helper. You can also do it manually or ask the help of experts. 

Googlenow has a more powerful tool BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), which will help to retrieve the smallest of the content from the webpage. With the help of BERT, it will be able to search exact phrases as asked by a web surfer. With this tool, users’ queries will be answered more precisely rather than jumbling them up into the web of irrelevant webpages. 

How will you do it?

To match up with this trend of SEO 2021, you will have to be very specific about your content. You may add FAQ schema and questions to be more specific. 

So, follow the above trends and stay afloat!! SEO will never lose its relevance!!

Consult your business with us!

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