SEO & SEM: There is a difference.

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MCKAY ADVERTISING + ACTIVATION

SEO & SEM: There is a difference.

There is a huge difference between SEM and SEO — we didn’t want to have to write this post, but sadly the terms are often used interchangeably.

Popular knowledge says that search engine optimization (SEO) uses Off-Page and On-Page activities to ensure that a site appears high on a list of search result.

On-Page SEO puts keywords into titles, it uses meta descriptions, heading tags, alt text, and more. On-Page SEO is related to a website’s blog posts. It uses clean URLs, is related to how fast a page loads, whether your page has Google authorship incorporation and utilizes social content. Off-Page SEO uses good backlinks, social signals and bookmarks, plus a whole slew of other elements. In short, SEO is awesome.

SEO is not SEM

So what is search engine marketing (SEM)? It is Internet marketing that also, like SEO, increases a website’s visibility in search result pages. SEM does work in conjunction with SEO, but SEM utilizes paid search elements like pay per click (PPC). The second you start using paid search in a campaign, it becomes an SEM campaign. In short, SEO is only a part of SEM.

You cannot use SEM and SEO interchangeably. So which one is better?

SEO is important, but if your question is “how long until I rank high on a search page?,” then you might want to consider this: rank is cute, but how long would you like to wait, and how many strategies will you try before it kicks in? Don’t you really want your search engine strategy to give you leads and, ultimately, conversions?

In the world of SEO first is actually third.

See what we did there? In this particular search (“lion king tampa”), the Straz Center’s listing came up high in the organic search results (blue box). That’s a result of the website’s strong SEO footing. A closer look reveals some some ticket resellers (you call them “scalpers”) below and alongside news articles plus the Broadway production’s official website. But you know what’s even higher than that organic result?

That’s right, the Straz Center’s well-planned SEM, complete with site extensions, hours of operation and an address for the official place to buy Lion King tickets. Again, there are SEM ads from resellers that show up to the right and underneath, but there are myriads of reasons why they wouldn’t score as high as the Straz’s own SEM.

A good SEM campaign will have good reporting on how spend is being strategically placed. It is nimble and ready to adjust to the real time information that search engines make available to marketers. At MA+A, SEM campaigns are a collaborative, evolving partnership between our strategists & media buyers and our clients’ marketing team.

If you want to learn more about how that works, then make plans to join us on February 9 when our partners at Google fly in to talk marketing with you in Ybor City.

The event is free, but space is limited, so RSVP and ask advance questions by filling out this form.

(Can’t wait? Contact us now, and we’ll get back with you as soon as possible.)