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SEO vs SEM. What are they? and why do I need them?

Jessica Ferguson October 12, 2017

If you run your own business and you haven't heard about Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing then you may have been hiding under a Rock.

But if you're still not sure what they are, and why you need them, then READ ON....


What is SEO? or Search Engine Optimisation?

SEO is the practice of enhancing your website to improve your overall position in search engine queries.


So how do I improve my SEO?

SEO is analysed on the key components that make up your website like; the content on your site, website efficiency and security, mobile device optimisation, external links to your site and ultimately the end user (customer) experience.  By improving all of these factors on your website you will significantly increase your position in search engines, and maybe even get a number 1 ranking (a unicorn in the SEO world).


Why invest in SEO?

• Investing in your own website will see you organically rank in a high position in search engines.
• Updating and writing quality content on your website can be much cheaper and more long term than running a paid advertising campaign.
• The results as mentioned are long term, and don’t just apply for the set time a paid ad campaign runs like SEM.
• There are many free tools that can help show you what to change on your website to improve your SEO.
E.g seositecheckup.com

Why would I not invest in SEO?

• It’s time consuming to constantly update the content on your site to optimise it for search engines.
• The results can take a long time to generate a high position, and ultimately seeing results.
• It can be costly if you require technical assistance for site issues like improving page load speed and mobile optimisation, or if you require a copywriter to help with content.

• Securing backlinks (site recommendations to your site) can be tricky to secure if you don’t know how.


What is SEM? or Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

SEM is, in a nutshell, a paid advertising campaign on a search engine.

You pay each time someone clicks on your ad. Hence why it’s called Pay per click or PPC for short.

A PPC campaign runs on the search engine you pre-define, and when someone types in 'a match' with one of your paid ads, your ad can appear. Examples of SEM include: Google AdWords and Bing Ads.

Why would I pay for SEM?

  • To reach customers quickly and get your brand name out there.
  • Can help you get to the top (Ad) position in Google to rank if your SEO isn’t amazing*.
  • You can decide exactly what you spend - Set your budget daily on what you can afford.
  • It’s based on key words (search words) that you decide and bid on
  • You can specifically target your area of service, device (mobile, tablet or PC), or even retarget people who have already visited your site.

Are there any downsides of SEM?

  • If your competition uses SEM also then you may all be bidding on the same key words pushing the price of these key words up.
    If you don’t select the right key words for your business goals you could be wasting money.
  • Better SEO further improves your Ad rank and also saves you money.
  • If your SEO isn’t up to scratch then your campaign won’t perform as well as it could.

So there you have it, a full run down of SEO and SEM.  In our opinion, the integrated approach is often the best one.  A little bit of Column A, and a little bit of Column B, but hopefully after reading this, you can now make an informed decision on what is right for your business goals.


What's your experience with SEO and SEM? Share your thoughts with me on LinkedIN