The internet is famous, or maybe infamous, for it’s abundant use of acronyms. In addition, terminology tends to use words and phrases that we are familiar with, but in a totally different context. So, today we’re going to spell out, so to speak, a few of these.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. What it means, is implementing a process that makes the best use of what the search engine does, which is to provide high quality matches of a searcher’s term to websites. For example, if your website is promoting plumbing services, you’ll want your site to come up when a searcher types in “fix broken water heater” or “plumber to fix a leak.”
Search engines rank websites on quite a number of different factors, but the main ones are keywords, depth of information, and quality. Optimization ensures that your site is consistent with what the search engine views as positives in its ranking process. The rankings that the search engine provides based solely on the website and the search engine’s algorithm are called “organic” results. In web context, organic means based on what exists, as opposed to a first page listing that has been paid for.
Which brings us to SEM, which stands for search engine marketing. Through a bidding process, your website can appear on the first page of search engine results, even if it wouldn’t rank organically for the first page. There is a caveat though. A crappy site will never hit the first page, no matter how much you pay. That said, a new high-quality website design can get on the first page, and this is a great advertising tool as the fees are only charged when a searcher actually goes to your site.
You may have also heard the term “marketing mix.” This is basically the number of different platforms you’re going to advertise on, how much you’ll spend on each, the order, frequency, etc. We recommend that every new or redeveloped site be search engine optimized, initially and ongoing. The cost of SEO compared to the value it brings, makes this a no brainer.
However, since organic ranking takes a bit of time, we also recommend search engine marketing to start giving your site visibility as soon as it’s published. Once the search engines have the time they need to “index,” assess, and rank your site, the SEO work will kick in and you won’t need to continue paying for the ads.
SEM has other purposes though. For instance, if you want to promote a new product or a big sales event, search engine marketing is very cost effective. Also, some users prefer to click on the paid ads while other prefer to click on organic listings. Often the combination of first page ranking via SEO and SEM will produce better conversion than only showing in one position.
The reason that we recommend ongoing search engine optimization work is because of the constant state of fluctuation on the internet. The search engines change their ranking criteria or criteria weighing; new competitors can enter the market; and old content will cause your ranking to drop, even if nothing else has changed.
So, in a nutshell, SEO raises your organic ranking; while SEM is a way to get you on the first page by paying a fee.
Since we’re experts at both, give us a call and grow your business!