The terms search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are often used mutually. It is important to keep in mind that these two terms have different meaning. In fact, SEO is a component of search engine marketing.
Search engine optimization means optimizing a website for organic (natural, unpaid) search engine listings. It is the most cost-effective function in a search engine marketing campaign. It can be seen as the most important long-term investment a company can do for its internet marketing activities.
Search engine marketing is the process of marketing a website in Internet via search engines. It can be done either by improving rank in organic or natural listings, paid or sponsored listings, or a combination of both.
Which one to use, SEO or SEM
SEM can deliver immediate clicks and traffic to your website. The con is that it can be expensive if your website isn’t converting the new leads. How much a new lead is worth to your business? How much it is worth to spend on SEM?
Important is that your website is attractive to the users when they arrive to your site. You need to ensure that your website is designed, written and built in a way that won’t disappoint visitors. Otherwise the money spent on PPC will be wasted.
It can be argued that the benefits of SEO are more long term and longer lasting because SEO is growing organically over time. SEM can help you to work out which keywords are getting click-throughs for your website and this can help forming the basis of an effective SEO strategy.
How to unify your SEO and SEM strategies
Often companies tend to run their SEO and SEM projects separately, and most of the digital advertising companies have their own SEO and SEM teams doing their own work.
Marketers need to realize that SEM and SEO are not separate disciplines, they are rather two sides of the same coin that can benefit each other to increase conversion rates and share of voice when managed correctly.
When you are combining SEO and SEM programs you need to first identify where the programs overlap, where they don’t, and where they should.
Paid search advertising project is much more successful if you have top ranking in natural search results, and vice versa. You need to use e.g. your web analytics tools to identify which keywords are performing well on both sides of the table, and see which ones are driving only PPC or organic search traffic.
When SEO and SEM teams are operating independently, there are often keywords or -phrases that are high volume and drive traffic from only one of the two search channels, either paid search or organic search. By identifying these terms you can optimize them better.
Measure the Paid Click Percentage
“Paid Click Percentage” makes it easy for advertisers to rapidly identify holes in either paid or organic search coverage. You can look e.g. at paid click percentages greater than 75% to identify key revenue-driving terms for your paid search project that are receiving fewer clicks from organic search results.
People who are searching are more inclined to click on organic results instead of ads, so you know that a term with zero organic clicks must not be resulting in the first-page in Google.
SEO team will get a ranked list of queries and landing pages to be optimized when you have sorted these terms by paid search revenue impact. This is will allow the SEO team to more efficiently prioritize SEO projects.
You can also use the same report to identify keywords that should be added or refined in your paid search campaigns.
Refine, Review, Repeat
Marketers get maximum revenue from both programs when paid and organic search channels work together. Identifying holes in both search campaigns, paid and organic, should improve the overall performance.
The analyses should be done on regular basis because of the continuous change of websites and advertising programs. Setting up regular meetings with your SEO and SEM teams is a good start.