The Power of Using SEO and SEM Together

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SEO and SEM are two highly effective strategies that help business owners reach their target audiences on search engines like Google. While the two marketing channels can bring quite a bit of success when used on their own, when used together, the two pack a hefty punch that can take your digital marketing efforts to the next level.

In this blog, we’ll help you understand what SEO and SEM are and just how powerful the two strategies can be when used together.

Key Differences Between SEO and SEM 

SEM and SEO are often used interchangeably but they are actually two different strategies with several key differences. 

SEO and SEM are both used to increase a website’s visibility in the SERPs (search engine results page). However, they each focus on different ways to get there. 

SEM (search engine marketing) is an approach that uses paid advertising to appear in the search results. There are a variety of SEM formats. A few of the most common include pay-per-click (PPC) ads, product listing ads (PLAs) or shopping ads, and text-based advertisements.

SEO (search engine optimization), on the other hand, focuses on continuously optimizing your website for higher rankings in the organic search results. This involves things like strategic keyword use, high-quality content creation and optimization, link building, and more.

Google’s search results are divided into two categories: paid results and organic results. 

example of paid and organic search results

In the example above, with an SEM PPC strategy, you may occasionally find your site at the very top or, in some cases, at the bottom of the SERP with a “Sponsored” indicator. How often your search ads appear in the results depends on a lot of factors. This includes the relevant keywords and match types you select in your Google Ads account as well as your ad budget. 

A solid SEO strategy, however, will help you earn consistent placement in high-ranking organic results. You can also use SEO to help your site appear in SERP features. In the example above, WordStream has earned what is known as a Featured Snippet. Other SERP features include People Also Ask, the Knowledge Panel, Local Pack, Video Carousels, and more. 

Unlike SEO, SEM can deliver pretty quick results. SEO takes a lot of time and consistent effort. 

SEM or SEO: Which Strategy Should You Choose?

Now that you understand the difference between SEM and SEO, you may be wondering which strategy you should implement on your site. Let’s break it down. 

If you’re stuck choosing between the two strategies, in most cases, SEO has the greatest long-term ROI. 

SEO is a strategy that any site can benefit from. In today’s competitive landscape, for many businesses, SEO is a necessity. Without consistent visibility in search engines, some businesses fail. 

SEO also lays a strong foundation for supplemental digital strategies, such as SEM. In other words, if you’re attempting to dabble in SEM but your SEO strategy isn’t up to par, you might not see a significant amount of success. Think of SEO as a precursor to SEM.

When used in tandem, however, SEO and SEM have the ability to kick your digital marketing strategy into high gear. Having a solid SEO and SEM strategy can maximize the amount of real estate space your site owns in the SERPs, bringing more traffic to your website and increasing your chances of capturing your audience. 

If you’ve started with SEO and you’re not seeing the results you were hoping for, SEM could be the perfect addition. You can supplement your SEO efforts with SEM to reach those that might not have previously converted into paying customers. 

However, what the decision truly comes down to is your marketing budget. Depending on your industry, SEM strategies can come with high-ticket prices on keywords and ad placements. 

Making the Most Out of Your Digital Marketing Strategy 

Whether you’re interested in SEM, SEO, or both, SMA Marketing can help. As digital marketing experts, we have the experience needed to take your business to new heights. Let us fine-tune your next digital marketing campaign. Contact us today!

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