Search Engine Marketing: Is It More Effective Than SEO?

Many of us think that Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or paid search advertising, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are the same things.

But are they the same?

They aren’t.

SEM is basically a kind of Internet marketing.

Here, you promote a website by boosting its visibility in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), primarily through paid search or advertising.

SEO–on the other hand–is the optimization of pages through organic and non-paid methods, through content & social media promotions.

But we will talk about the difference, in detail, later.

Let’s first figure-out what SEM is!

It’s the procedure of getting traffic and visibility from the search engines, through both paid and unpaid efforts.

It powers and improves the reach of the search engines so that you get more clients–at the right time and the right place.

Search Engine Marketing covers:

A. SEO: This helps you get traffic through unpaid or free listings. It works on website content and site architecture, and improves rankings in the SERPs to boost pay per click (PPC) listings.

B. SEM: For it you have to purchase traffic through paid search listings.

SEM is also called:

A. Paid search ads

B. Paid Advertising

C. PPC (Pay-per-click)

Though Google Ads is the most commonly known and used paid search tool, you will help your internet marketing cause further if you use Bing or Yahoo also.

SEO and SEM: Which Is Better?

Coming back to the differences, the key difference between the two is that SEO is simply a component of the SEM. Besides SEO, SEM includes many other search marketing strategies as well, such as PPC and Social Media Marketing (SMM).

While SEO is increasing the amount of website visitors, via getting the site to fetch high results on search engines, SEM is the internet marketing that boosts a site’s visibility via organic search engines results & advertising.

An additional key difference between the two: with SEO you will have to be patient and wait for the results; with the PPC, you can hope for instant results.

Don’t use the terms SEO and SEM interchangeably.

The reason: even though they work side by side, they are anything but the same term.

SEO or SEM: Which Marketing Tactic Is Better?

As per some of those in the know, if we compare the two, organic SEO has an edge.

However, which fetches better results may depend on your general Digital Marketing targets.

SEM cannot thrive minus organic SEO.

Still, PPC (a component of SEM) may make more sense, vis-à-vis SEO in many specific cases.

For instance, in case you are first launching a site, and are keen to get high visibility at once, launch a PPC campaign. It will take less time, vis-à-vis SEO.

Still, it wouldn’t be a wise idea to focus ONLY on PPC and ignore SEO completely.

Granted organic SEO may take more time to produce results. But it will cost less eventually even as you will be able to establish a search credibility that, perhaps, you may unable to get with PPC.

If your websites rank high in the organic results for their target keywords, you will get free traffic 24/7, industry recognition, and enjoy all the benefits of SEO.

Besides, with more appearances in the searches organically, you will enjoy the option of focusing your SEM efforts on other keywords to expand your reach.

Effective SEO will make your site swift & user-friendly as well.

What tilts the pendulum further towards SEO is that Google follows a system known as Quality Score.

If Google finds that people click and then they go away thanks to not-too-good experience, you will have to pay more for every click.

To wrap it up, in case you want to attract traffic fast, begin with Search Engine Marketing, but work on your SEO simultaneously.

Generate a long-lasting and guaranteed online business with effective SEO!

Don’t rely solely on paid traffic!

The Mystery of Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing has always played a critical role in managing the visibility of a company’s online brand. However with the Internet becoming what is arguably today’s dominant medium, Search Engine Marketing has also risen to become a key driver in a company’s overall brand strategy. Regrettably the maturity of the products and services that comprise search engine related disciplines come at a time when the industry has never been more complicated and difficult to navigate. Even though businesses today have many more options with regard to how they execute their search engine initiatives, I find that many marketing executives struggle more today with their online marketing strategies than they did a few years ago. In today’s blog post I’ll share my opinions on the current state of the Search Engine Marketing Industry.

My experience with Search Engine Marketing predates many in the field. In the mid 80’s I co-founded what was at the time the largest web development company in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. My partner and I later sold that company to the largest web enablement firm in the world where I stayed on for a period of time as their Director of Internet Strategy before leaving to found one of the top 50 Interactive Advertising Agencies in the United States. At last weeks 2006 Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose, California it was clear that the industry has shown remarkable growth and made tremendous advances in sophistication as well as in the diversity of product and service offerings currently available, but I question whether things are getting better or worse for the consumer.

In talking regularly with many senior executives, marketing professionals and entrepreneurs one thing is clear…they are clearly not fluent in the area of search engine marketing. While these professionals understand the potential that search engine marketing holds for their businesses they do not understand how to capitalize on it. In fact, many of the people I have spoken with are extremely frustrated at the amount of money they have invested in search initiatives without being able to develop an understanding of the medium such that they have not yet been able to develop a consistent winning strategy in this space.

The major problems that exist within the search industry are tied to the fact that this is still an embryonic medium. There are only so many ways to purchase advertising in more mature mediums like radio or television. Contrast this with the numerous options available to consumers and businesses looking to purchase advertising on the internet: Search Engine Optimization, Pay-Per-Click, Pay-Per-Call, Pay-Per-Acquisition, Sponsored Advertising, Internet Yellow Pages, Ezine ads, Contextual Advertising, Embedded Advertising, Pop-overs and Pop-unders, Banner serving networks, Directory Ads, Link Farms, video ads, webinars, etc. Advertising mediums in the infancy of their lifecycle spit out new opportunities faster than you can shake a stick at, with inexperienced vendors cutting their teeth on the advertiser’s nickel. There is rarely a week that passes when I don’t speak to a company who has a horror story to tell about a search marketing company who over-promised and under-delivered and by the time the advertiser figured out what was going-on they had spent thousands of dollars with little to show for it.

Another problem with the search industry is that Google currently controls most of the traffic. Combine Google’s dominant position with the fact that they will share little if any data with advertisers and that they can change the rules of the game at any time and it brings new meaning to the term “Flying Blind.” However the issue of transparency within the search industry is not limited to Google. Most of the search engines play their cards very close to the chest as they try and establish a leg up in the market. Until there is competitive pressure brought to bear on Google the odds are stacked against the advertiser. I met with a client last week that was spending 50% of their Pay-Per-Click budget on Yahoo and MSN because it was recommended to them by their search marketing firm. The problem is that given the advertisers product line and target market Yahoo and MSN would produce virtually no return for them…This is a big problem.

The fact is that the Internet is the medium that can deliver the most velocity and biggest return on your marketing dollar. I also believe that this will continue to be the case as the dominance of the Internet medium will only continue to widen the gap over alternate mediums. Companies cannot afford not to allocate a substantial part of their advertising budget to online advertising, but until the medium matures it will behoove of them to make sure that they work with the best vendors who can keep up with the rapid pace of change in the industry.

Effective Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Keyword Advertising Without Losing Your Shirt

You may or may not know that traditional methods of marketing (emblematic items, broadcast ads, printed ads, etc.) can be integral to successful marketing on search engines. I will remain very broad in covering the topic because there are many options available to you, and some of them will be better suited for your particular goals than others. Up front, the best advice I can give is to talk over your specific goals with a qualified Website solution provider who practices SEM and is familiar with integrating it into Website design.

The ways to market your business (specifically your Website) via the search engines make up a lengthy list. The pay-for-placement methods are somewhat fewer, and can be broken down into three general categories as follows:

  • You can pay for the number one spot (in the page margins) of the search engines by individual keywords. Although this kind of placement may seem appealing, it is only as reliable as your advertising dollars allow. You can be outbid by someone who is willing to pay more for that position.
  • You can pay-per-click (PPC) for given keywords, and depending on your budget and the popularity of the word(s) you select, your positioning will vary. Again, this is effective in getting traffic, but there is a difference between someone who clicks their way to your site and someone who makes a purchase once they’re there. (You aren’t paying-per-click for customers who buy something. You are paying just to get the visit.)
  • You can pay to advertise on other peoples’ Websites by having the search engine companies liaison between you and the other site owners. This is a comparatively newer way to advertise, paying to put out an advertisement while other Website owners receive some search engine indexing and kickback benefits for allowing your ad to be on their sites. In theory (and usually in practice), this is a win-win option.

Of these three general methods, keyword ad campaigns can usually be limited to a pre-specified number of dollars per month (or until your account is replenished). So you aren’t really writing a “blank check” to advertise with keywords in these ways, but you do need to manage your budget and your account carefully. Buyer beware!

I have had several clients who came to me because of keyword ad accounts that were handled poorly by their previous service provider. In the worst cases, some of them were victims of out-and-out fraud. One case in particular stands out in my mind.

I had an accountant approach me with complaints that he had been spending $400 to $600 per month for the previous 6 months for 200 guaranteed clicks to his Website per month. “Wow… that’s a pretty good guarantee,” you might be thinking. And he received a report from his provider each month that substantiated that he was in fact getting that kind of traffic (more than 200 hits per month) from his keyword ad campaigns. His complaint, however, was that he had no new clients that came from his Website (otherwise called “conversions” from ad response to customer). The ratios of hits (impressions) to sales (conversions) seemed unreasonably low. I was suspicious.

I did a bit of research on his Website’s performance, and what I found was disturbing (but all too common). His account was set to automatically replenish (re bill his credit card) on the fifteenth of each month, up to his specified maximum monthly budget of $500 or so. That means that if his account balance was $250 on the fourteenth of the month, another $250 would be charged to him to restore his account balance to $500. Each click cost him money, and over the next 30 days his balance would incrementally be debited until it came time to replenish it on the fifteenth of the following month. If he ever hit zero, his ad would “fall off the map,” but such a billing plan assured him that he would never go beyond his budget. Sounds like a foolproof way to advertise, right? Guaranteed hits with no cost overruns! It gave him a false sense of security, and he was getting scammed!

When I did an analysis of his Website traffic, I saw a steady trend of visitors that came from a variety of sources, some of them from his paid-for advertising campaign. I counted about 20 to 30 hits related to his pay-per-click deal. Suspiciously, however, he had about 150 to 180 hits on the fourteenth of each month, the day before his account replenished. It never took him down to zero, so he didn’t think anything strange was going on. But it seemed apparent that whoever was managing his account was taking advantage of his trusting nature, and he was paying for artificial hits. His reports showed over 200 hits, just as he was promised, but he was unwittingly padding the pockets of his account manager!

Don’t let that happen to you! I didn’t relay that story to scare you or to deter you from using paid-for advertising. Really, paid ads are extremely effective in the right situations. I simply want you to realize that, like everything else with doing business online, there is often more than meets the eye. Forewarned is forearmed. Get into the game of marketing your Website, but do it with a wise eye and wary wallet. The best approach is likely to be one that combines the three types of advertisements bulleted above, so you can measure which one works best for your particular campaign. You might also want to try a Text Message Marketing (TMM) portal to supplement your variable advertising budget with a flat rate option! Text Message Marketing (TMM) is a relatively new marketing trend that appeals to millions of consumers for a number of reasons.

Most solution providers and SEM companies that have been around for awhile are reputable or they wouldn’t stay in business. But you must take an active interest in the management of your advertising budget. Ensure that your SEM provider gives you more than just a total-hits-per-month report and an invoice for recharging your account. You should require them to provide you with the Website analytics that show all of your traffic, the trends, the hits-per-page, hits-per-day, sources of hits (so you can ensure they’re from different addresses), keywords used to find you, and so forth. Even if you never look at the details of those reports, the fact that they are provided to you will be a deterrent to keep your SEM provider honest. They probably are honest anyway, but in the end you have to CYA (cover your assets).

How to Use Search Engine Marketing Services to Increase Your Website’s Ranking

Did you know that link popularity plays a huge part in the ranking of websites by search engines? That means the more links you have point to your website, the higher your website will rank in the results. Now the question becomes how do get you high ranking websites to link to your website?

Webmasters can’t afford to mess around so they must obtain these high-ranking links very quickly. This is especially true of part-time webmasters; every minute is valuable. For that reason, you need to employ three techniques that can help you in your Internet marketing business and provide you with excellent link exchanges with other websites.

Three Internet Marketing Techniques To Help Website Owners Obtain Traffic

Technique 1 – Write An Article

If you want your website ranked by the search engines, you’ll need to write an article about the product/service you provide. By writing your article, your readers can learn who you are and what you are offering to them. Why should you write your article? At the end of it, you’ll place a resource box that gives the reader your website information as well as the URL for that site.

When another website or Webmaster chooses to publish your article, they’ll need to include the resource box. It’s easy to write an article. If you don’t want to do the work, you can hire freelance writers from Elance or some other free lance website. All you need to start a project is to hire a writer and have your budget.

Technique 2 – Submit Articles To Directories

Now that you have your article written, it’s time to submit it to different article directories. By publishing them in article directories, you ensure it gets picked up by ezine publishers as well as website owners who want quality, up to date information. You can find all kinds of article directories on the Internet. The more you submit to, the more backlinks you create for your website. Many article directories are going with the RSS technology. RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication, which means your articles will get further mileage.

Technique 3 – Do Your Own RSS Article Feeds

Another popular Internet marketing technique is using RSS feeds for your articles. You can easily use this by setting up a blog using WordPress.org or Blogger.com. If you’re not used to blogs, then you may want to settle on Blogger.com; however, if you’re more experienced, use WordPress.org.

Once you’ve got this set up, add your articles to the site. Make sure have a hyperlink back to your URL and have an Anchor Text using your targeted keywords. When the search engines spiders are sent out, you’ll end up higher in search engine rankings. Once you’ve done this, submit the new RSS feeds to both RSS directories and search engines.

As you see, it isn’t hard to get high search engine rankings but it will be necessary to create backlinks and do link exchanges to ensure that your article gets seen and read by all your visitors.