Search Engine Marketing Services

Part 3: The Difference Between SEM and SEO Services

Some consider SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) synonymous, interchangeable terms. This is not the case. In fact, SEO is a subset of SEM. Although most SEM’s perform traditional SEO services (organic site optimization), SEM is generally part of a broader gamut of internet marketing.

The marketing side of SEM involves advertising and target marketing in order to draw traffic to websites. This includes, but does not only pertain to:

Pay-for-inclusion – the SEM firm manually submits your site to applicable search engines and directories. Submission fees are required for submissions to search engines and directories. Many SEM companies guarantee your site will be indexed by the search engines within a short period of time.

Trusted Feeds – when there is no page to crawl, or a site is working off of dynamic pages drawn from a database, they are impossible for spiders to see and index. Trusted feeds send out this dynamic content via XML format so that it can be indexed by the search engines.

ROI tracking – the SEM firm tracks statistics gathered from marketing channels to show ROI trends.

Email Marketing – the SEM company sends out email adverts typically targeting customers related to the SEM’s client.

Traditional Ads – Ads are displayed on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Ads are based on keywords entered in the search and fees are triggered by impressions (you pay for the ad even if it’s not clicked through).

PPC– generally these are text based ads, where the copy is written by the advertiser. The PPC advertiser places a bid amount, choosing the fee they are willing to pay when the ad is clicked through.Typically, the higher the bid, the better ranked the ad will be in the SERP.

SEM has its advantages in that your site can obtain instant traffic increases if the campaign strategy is successful. But relying solely on the marketing side SEM has its disadvantages. It can be expensive as costs will accumulate from ads and PPC. Furthermore, these marketing tactics do not necessarily guarantee stickiness of your site. Search engine marketing may drive initial traffic to your web pages, but this traffic increase will be short term if your pages are poorly laid out and contain weak or irrelevant content. Websites need to be well written, from both a programming and aesthetic perspective.

The intricacies of search engine marketing combined with search engine optimization can also be an overwhelming task for any firm. While a large SEM company may be able to handle the workload of both the marketing and SEO side of the business, specialization will most likely provide better results.

SEO is a more technical process than SEM and involves a deeper understanding of search engine algorithms. An SEO firm also sets out to optimize your site for peak performance organically, so that it is seen and listed in the search engines on an ongoing basis. The organic search engine optimization process of SEO is one of the main factors that separates SEO from SEM. Organic search engine optimization provides free search engine positioning, instead of pay for results.

An SEO company tends to have more understanding of website design, programming, and how search engines work. SEO company staff is typically made up of programmers and website designers.

If you were to separate the marketing side of SEM from SEO and compare the two, SEO maintains a better overall ROI than SEM. Sixty percent of top search engine listings are devoted to organic listings. In most cases, a good SEO service is all your site needs to drive traffic to it.