Search Engine Marketing and SEO — Is There a Difference?
Search engine marketing.
Search engine optimization.
What’s the difference, and why does it matter? How can either (or both) of these concepts help you improve your business, your website, or your brand?
It doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t need to feel overwhelmed by the technical jargon of the industry any more. In mere moments, you’ll be able to discuss SEM and SEO—and the ability of both to revolutionize your life—with ease.
What Is the Point of Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization?
That one’s easy.
The purpose of both Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) is to increase the visibility of your website and/or your content.
Search engine optimization is actually a part of overall search engine marketing. The two strategies focus on different elements of your marketing to make sure people know what you’re providing for them and to help your target audiences can find your site easily.
What Is Search Engine Marketing?
Search engine marketing is a much broader field than search engine optimization. It includes everything—every single thing—that you can do to increase the likelihood of someone seeing your site or your content. This includes search engine optimization, but that’s not all.
Popular search engine marketing tools include paid space advertising (so your website will appear at the top or bottom of a search). Search engine marketing works to get your site more visibility and more views in whatever way possible, whether it’s free (using search engine optimization) or paid (like Google’s Pay Per Click (PPM) Adwords system or advertisements).
Search engine marketing can be incredibly effective because it is targeted. For example, when someone types a term into the search bar, if you’ve paid to have your site advertised, it will pop up right away and increase its visibility immediately.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization is one part of search engine marketing. Unlike paying to be advertised on a search engine or on social media, search engine optimization is free. It’s all about how you use your words to make sure your site is high on the list of websites that pop up after a particular search.
Search engine optimization is all about getting people to your website and your content without paying to be advertised somewhere else.
On-Site Search Engine Optimization
On-site search engine optimization occurs on your website or blog. “Optimizing” your site is the process of making your content friendly and accessible by search engines by following a set of rules.
On-site search engine optimization rules include header formatting, title wording, image descriptions, URL formatting, and more.
Off-Site Search Engine Optimization
Off-site search engine optimization happens outside your website or blog— it is the number and quality of links on other websites that connect users and viewers to your content. Off-site search engine optimization is also known as link building, because in order to really harness the power of search engine optimization, you want to have as many legit websites link to yours as you can.
Which Is Right for Me?
Honestly, it depends.
Search engine marketing gets your website in the people’s faces. It helps your content get some visibility right away, no matter what. Your website will be right there, available and waiting for that friendly click.
However, search engine optimization will help your website and content last and keep getting those hits in the long run. It will make your website or blog show up on the first page of searches without a constant stream of money flowing to the search engine company and it will help you continue to get the audience of viewers that you want to attract.
The differences between search engine marketing and search engine optimization should help you make the decision that’s right for you, but there is one decision that isn’t really a choice: whether or not you consider using search engine marketing or search engine optimization at all.