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Understanding the Two Main Search Optimization Strategies for Businesses
If you’re looking to attract attention, drive traffic to your site, and grow your business, then search optimization needs to be an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. The most important things to know are SEM, SEO, and the differences between them. We will be finding out just that here.
Understanding Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing (SEM) is an umbrella term for the different types of paid search advertising that exists today. Involving paid tactics to gain visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs), SEM includes both the activities for setting up and optimizing ads. It also involves setting the budget to pay for ad placement.
Often referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, SEM mostly involves the use of Google Ads to implement the marketing strategy. Businesses use PPC to perform keyword research and generate campaigns that target the best keywords for their niche, products, and/or services.
When someone searches for these keywords on Google or other search engines, custom ads are generated at the bottom or top of their search engine results pages (SERPs). Whenever someone clicks on these ads, the brand is charged by Google or another search engine where the search is conducted, hence the term pay-per-click.
SEM's biggest advantage is that it is targeted, which makes it an incredibly important source of internet traffic. Most people use search engines to answer a question, learn how to do something, or find a solution to a problem.
So, when someone navigates to a website from an ad and organic search results, they are highly likely to convert. The higher relevance of the ads to the searcher makes SEM traffic more valuable than traffic generated through channels like email and social media.
Another advantage of SEM is the use of tracking return on investment (ROI). Since you pay every time someone clicks on your ad, you will know exactly how much traffic your PPC campaign generated at what price.
In the end, the purpose of search engine marketing (SEM) is to make it easier for advertisers to gain visibility in the search engines and drive the right kind of traffic without having to wait for it. Therefore, successful SEM requires a dynamic SEM strategy that gets the best ROI.
Understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
What is search engine optimization (SEO)? It is a process through which a website is optimized to drive free traffic from search engines. When a site is optimized, it is easier for search engine crawlers to understand it, which increases its chances of ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).
SEO is a strategy involving the use of ‘organic tactics’ to gain visibility in SERPs and it is a critical part of search marketing. Unlike SEM, SEO does not require a business to pay for placement on the SERPs.
Instead, businesses need to use various tactics to get their website or content to rank or show on the first page of the search engine results pages. Getting ranked on the first page can increase the value and authority of any business.
There are a hundred tactics that you can use to improve your ranking in search engines. However, on-page SEO and off-page SEO are the two most widely used SEO strategies. They are often referred to as the pillars of search engine optimization (SEO).
Another SEO strategy that is often used is Technical SEO. These three strategies are collectively known as ‘White-Hat SEO Strategies’. The following is a brief introduction to each of these strategies:
1. On-Page SEO
Rules that you can apply on your website or blog, on-page SEO optimizes each website page to target a specific keyword and become search engine friendly. Search engine friendly means being easier to understand by search engine crawlers.
What strategies are included in on-page SEO? The strategies are content creation, keyword research, and keyword optimization. By making it easier for search engines to understand the content on a page, on-page optimization in SEO helps the page to rank higher in SERPs.
Examples of on-site SEO applications on a website or blog are well-formatted URLs, good descriptions, optimized titles, and the appropriate use of H1, H2, images, and more.
2. Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO is an SEO strategy that involves getting votes from other relevant or authoritative websites to make your website ‘more trustworthy’ to search engines. The main purpose of off-page SEO is to build the reputation and authority of a website by connecting it to other high-quality websites.
The most well-known Off-page SEO strategy is link building. This strategy involves getting high-quality backlinks. Now, there are two types of link building: organic and artificial. Also referred to as natural link building, organic link building involves building links using organic or natural methods. Some examples are blogging about current news, creating quality website content, performing social bookmarking, and writing for Ezines.
On the other hand, artificial link building is building links via the back door or through manipulative ways. Businesses that use this approach to get backlinks don’t wait for others to link to their site. Instead, they build links themselves and direct them to their site. Examples are commenting on blogs, posting in forums, buying links, directory submission, and link exchanges.
In addition to natural and artificial link building, other Off-page SEO techniques include managing local listing and directory profiles. When many websites, especially authoritative websites, are linking back to your site, it shows to search engines that your website is trustworthy, reliable, and reputable. As a result, the search engine ranks your website higher in SERPs.
3. Technical SEO
The third and final SEO strategy used to get search engines to rank a website higher in SERPs is technical SEO. This strategy includes optimizing a website’s ‘non-content’ elements and the website as a whole. The purpose of this is to improve the foundation and backend structure of a website.
Technical SEO strategies are used for site architecture, site speed, security, crawlability, indexing, structured data, and mobile-friendliness. By improving both user and search crawler experience, technical SEO leads to a higher ranking in search engines.
While all three strategies can do a decent job independently, the best way to go usually is to combine the three strategies for the best results.
The Advantages of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Businesses
Using search engine optimization (SEO), you can optimize your website to drive natural/organic traffic or visitors from search engine results pages (SERPs). While you don’t need to pay anything to get organic traffic, the SEO strategy may require you to incur some costs depending on the competitiveness of the market you’re targeting. However, SEO has many advantages overall, which makes it a great option for any business. The following are the main advantages of search engine optimization (SEO) for your business.
1. Brand Awareness
People are unlikely to buy from you if they don’t recognize your brand. Therefore, you need to build brand awareness to affect your business’ bottom line and improve its long-term prospects. Your aim should be to get a top-of-the-mind recall from your prospect.
There are several strategies that you can employ to increase awareness about your brand. These include BTL activities, social media promotion, the use of flyers, and more. However, search engine optimization (SEO) is often more effective than these strategies in making target customers aware of a brand and its products/services.
How does SEO help to achieve brand awareness? By putting your business in front of the target audience when they search for the keywords you targeted. The target keywords are more than just words that people use to search on Google. They are a doorway to your business.
By ranking for these keywords, you can increase the visibility of your website/business. When people see your website in SERPs repeatedly, it increases awareness about your brand.
2. Increased Trust and Credibility
To ensure that only the best, most relevant sites appear on the search engine results pages (SERPs), Google works incredibly hard. This is the reason millions and millions of people around the world trust Google when they want a query answered or want to find something on the internet. This makes the search engine a highly reliable service.
Not only do the Google loyalists trust the search engine, but they also trust the websites that get a high ranking on the Google search result pages. If your site ranks on the 9th or 10th page of SERPs, this will hurt your reputation, and you won’t get a lot of traffic or customers coming your way.
On the other hand, when your site gets ranked on the first page of the Google search results, you automatically earn ‘credibility’ and ‘trust’ from the users searching for your targeted keywords on Google.
When people search for the products and/or services you offer on the internet, they are more likely to trust your business and buy from you if you appear on the first page of the organic search results. Also, since most people have a habit of ignoring sponsored ads and instead going for organic search listings, your job of making your business stand apart from the competitors will become a whole lot easier.
In addition to the above, if your business relies a lot on user reviews, then visibility in SERPs with several positive reviews can significantly improve your business’s credibility.
3. Increased Traffic
One of the primary benefits of SEO is increased website traffic. Even if your business is catering to a niche product, you can get a lot of traffic flowing your way by getting ranked for the right keywords. After you’ve done the initial hard work of getting your page ranked, it wouldn’t take much to maintain this.
When it comes to search engine traffic, one of the best and most reliable to do this is by creating great content or content that your target audience would be interested in. For example, if you’re a company that offers plumbing services, you’d do well to write blog posts on solving the plumbing problems in homes.
The idea is to educate your target audience and get them to buy from you. This is where SEO meets content marketing. Currently, SEO is all about content marketing. Knowing how to use content to grow your business and educate your audience about it will directly impact your SEO rankings.
4. Lower Costs
Investing a lot and still not getting the desired results is one thing you don’t need to worry about when performing search engine optimization (SEO). While running a successful SEO campaign does involve some definite costs, they are a lot lower than what you’d have to pay for any other marketing campaign.
What is the reason for this? SEO allows you to build a high level of brand awareness compared to other marketing methods by laser targeting traffic for your brand and business. While SEO isn’t exactly cheap, the costs spent on it are more than justified. This makes SEO a winner.
5. Great Return on Investment (ROI)
With paid or sponsored ads, you need to pay a fee every time someone clicks on your ad. SEO doesn’t work that way. While SEO isn’t exactly free, it doesn’t require you to pay for clicks or impressions.
However, you will have to invest some time and money in SEO to get the results you’re looking for. If you don’t have much knowledge or skills in SEO, then you will have to work with a reputable company that can take care of it for you. Despite this, SEO can ensure a better return on investment (ROI) compared to the traditional ways of marketing or advertising a business.
With SEO, you can tweak your efforts and improve your results over time without impacting your marketing efforts and business too much. Additionally, you can get a better return with SEO than PPC or SEM in the long run if you show a little bit of patience.
As seen above, there are many advantages of employing a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy for your business. It is a more effective online marketing strategy for your business than SEM. However, it is advisable to employ both the SEO and SEM strategies to improve the searchability of your businesses rather than using just one of these strategies. You will find this beneficial.