I want to kill two birds with one stone with this post and cover both SEO and SEM. The purpose will not be to make you a SEO or SEM expert. Not even an amateur. The two categories are both far to broad to cover in a blog post or this online marketing strategy series. What I want to do here is to explain what they are and how they are different as most people have no clue. For the do it yourself’er I’ll point you towards some helpful resources. If you’re not into the DIY thing then you can contact me and I’ll be glad to offer you some help via my paid services.
First things first
Before we begin it’s important to understand the anatomy of a search engine results page. When you Google something let’s say the words ‘car dealer’ there are three possible places on the page to view results. They are paid search, organic, and local.
What is SEO:
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It typically refers to a website owners efforts to rank high in organic search.
What is SEM:
SEM stands for search engine marketing and refers to a business owners effort to appear in paid search results (think Google Adwords).
Where should you focus your energy and money?
Consider this senario. You are evaluating two business for purchase. They are identical in every respect except for business ‘A’ receives 90% of it’s business from organic web leads and business ‘B’ receives 90% of its business from paid search results. Which would you prefer to buy? When ever I ask people this they always say option ‘A’. But that would be a mistake (in my opinion). What would happen if Google changes it search algorithm and now business ‘A’ does not rank high for it’s keywords but instead ends of on page 10 of the search results. This happened to a friend of mine as well as other business when Google made it Panda update.
Why a primary focus on SEO is a marketing mistake
- SEO results are out of your control (think Panda updates).
- SEO results are far to competitive (literally millions of results for typical search)
I recommend focusing first on SEM / paid search
- SEM results are largely in your hand
- Paid search is far less competitive
If you’re running a WordPress site I recommend downloading the Yoast SEO plugin. That’s what I use.
If you want to read up on some advanced SEO pickup Danny Dover’s book Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Secrets
(this is not typical stuff you will find on the web).
Read the SEOmoz blog
SEM / paid search help
Setting up Google Adwords is easy. But getting it to work cost efficiently is not. I recommend you hire a professional (I provide AdWords management services) from the start if you’re considering advertising online. You’ll save yourself thousands. You an also try reading Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords 3/E: How to Access 100 Million People in 10 Minutes.