Do you know the real difference between SEO & SEM?

Do you know the real difference between SEO & SEM?

Over the years I have been asked countless times which is better to invest in – SEO or PPC?

In reality, some searchers will click on paid ads and others will click on organic links.  As a business owner, you want your company to have that searchers business at the least cost possible.  So is the answer SEO, PPC, or BOTH? Is so, how do you accomplish that within your budget? 

Let’s get the basics out of the way.

What is Pay Per Click (PPC)?

Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically.  For a campaign to begin to show results, it can take as little as a day or as much as a couple of months. This depends on your company’s industry and online competitiveness.

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

SEO stands for “search engine optimization”.  It is the process of getting traffic from the “free” or “organic” search results on search engines.  SEO is a complicated discipline and will take months. Most experts will tell you to invest four to six months before seeing any kind of traction.  It combines a large number of tools and best practices that evolve and constantly adjust according to Google’s updates.  

Changes to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Landscape

It’s no secret to paid search and SEO managers that Google has steadily made updates over the past couple of years that have directly harmed organic traffic. This includes the addition of a fourth text ad above organic links, moving the Local Pack to the top of the search results, and more. 

With this in mind, it should be no surprise that Google’s advertising revenue hit $33.92 billion in Q3, compared to $28.95 billion in Q3 of last year.

Advertising still makes up the vast majority of Alphabet’s revenues (parent company of Google), of which paid clicks from Q3 2018 to Q3 2019 increased by  18%. So to think one will outwit Google at their own game is best said philosophically: “it is what it is”.  

I am not bringing this to light to support PPC.   Our agency manages SEO as well — and does a fantastic job of it. 

In the end,  it is all about the client, their goals and their budget.  I prefer to look at my clients short and long term goals. Short term goals are usually about revenue and sales, of which PPC is a good resource.  Long term goals tend to be more about strategy and cost efficiencies to which SEO can help accomplish.

Utilizing PPC for top line revenue and incremental growth opportunities is a good solution and one I use with most clients.  

Keeping in mind that Google will continue to change algorithms to support their bottom line, investing in SEO is like investing money in a 401K for your business, its money that will gain value over time and remain in your account.   Similarly, by investing in SEO you create long-term value for your website that will continue to accrue over time.

Knowing SEO is for the long haul, I believe budget is best spent on ensuring the SEO foundation is healthy.  Fixing the fundamentals like alt tags, meta-descriptions, having all images properly labeled, strong content and site speed are some of the basics that we see missing or incorrectly built on most all sites we review.  Many times clients are happy with the performance of the PPC and the improvements made with just having the basic SEO working properly. If budget allows, we can then organize a plan and strategy based on the client’s needs to continue investing in the wealth of their website with more aggressive SEO tactics such as link building and onsite SEO.  For more information or  help with both your SEO and PPC needs, give us a call at 972-243-2211.

Karen Brunton

After traveling across Europe and the U.S., Karen settled down in her native DFW Metroplex and into her advertising career. Some 20 years later Karen’s passion for providing comprehensive, results driven media programs for her clients has only increased. More info
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