computer on desk

Search Engine Optimisation vs Search Engine Marketing

Many businesses ask the question of how quick can they get to the top of Google and what is the best way to do it. There are two proven strategies that will help your visibility in search engines including Google, Yahoo and Bing. Search engine optimisation is a term to describe optimising your website to appear organically in search engines based on certain keywords people are searching for. Search engine marketing on the other hand is optimised advertising that appears at the top and left hand side of search engines and when clicked on, links to a page on your website. With search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) you are always targeting keywords but the way you appear on search engines is different in each scenario and the associated cost vs return is measured differently.


As an individual or business what strategy is best for you. Let's just start out by saying that there isn't a one size fits all and SEO now falls into a broad category that includes content and social media marketing as both contribute to your overall search engine position. Any good digital marketing strategy has detailed research and a plan to deliver on measurable goals. Whatever your business is you should always plan your goals for your website just like you do for your everyday operations. Your goal may be to generate 4 enquiries a month through your website or if you are running an e-commerce store it may be to convert your search engine marketing to 10 actual customers through checkout each month. Having goals at the start aids with developing and refining your plan as you move along and grow your website.

SEO and SEM have the term 'keywords' in common. The more competitive the keywords the more you should expect to pay as there are more people actively trying to acquire visitors and traffic for these search terms. Ultimately this will make it more difficult for you to rank higher in a short amount of time. With both strategies you can put your business in front by doing detailed research or having your digital partner undertake research to uncover niche pockets or underutilised keywords that fall within your target audience. While targeting broad terms are okay for loads of traffic you may be missing out on those customers that are actively in the buying cycle. For example if you are trying to target the keyword "shoes" compared to "buy running shoes" you will find that while your traffic may be good you may be missing out on a high conversion rate as you are targeting the wrong search terms. Any good plan will have a mix of active longtail keywords and broader terms that are relevant to your industry.

What Strategy Should I Use?

It's a question that many businesses will ask themselves. Why should I pay for search engine optimisation when I can just run some Google Adwords. Many people fall into the trap of trying to do everything especially when they run a small business. Effective search engine marketing requires research, time and effort to optimise ads and split test results to measure conversions. Typically we would recommend to a client to use a combination of both SEO and SEM if their market is big enough and if there is significant competition.

SEO can be your best friend! Think about whenever you search for a restaurant or a service or if you want to buy something online. Where is the first place you head to? I'm sure 99% of people would say Google. If your business isn't on the first page unfortunately it's unlikely that you will see 95% of these potential customers looking for your goods and services. Sure you can run some Google Adwords but you are investing money for each click through to your website and do you have a plan to track conversions, what pages people are searching on your website and when they are leaving. In the long term the return on investment for SEO is better than a do it yourself search engine marketing plan. Why? With solid first page rankings you aren't paying everytime somebody clicks on your website and you have the capacity to outperform those ads that appear and not pay each time someone clicks on your website. Think about how much you will spend on advertising your website in comparision to how many new customers you will obtain and their average overall spend. Being on the first page will drive more traffic, more enquiries and sales while maintaining a fixed cost. Search engine marketing requires detailed optimisation of bids and managing of costs on a daily and weekly basis. If you are in a very competitive market you can be looking at upwards of $10 - $20 per click. While sustainable in some industries you need to have a plan to track conversion and optimise your ads and landing pages.

SEM is an important component of any business and is a perfect strategy for an e-commerce store where you can track the cost of a click and a potential sale. E.g. if a click costs you $2.00 and you make $10.00 off that customer there is a decent margin and good return on investment for the business. Another scenario is a specific landing page aimed at converting visitors. If you are running a campaign or a special promotion it is the perfect opportunity to run an Adwords campaign and track how your landing pages are performing. It is highly important though that you are not just throwing up some Adwords without managing their performance. While traffic is great you would prefer highly targeted traffic that is more likely to convert so you aren't wasting your money. The importance of conversions goes ten fold whenever you run a search engine marketing campaign as you have paid money to get the customer to your website and if they leave before they do what you want them to you need to know why. This is where many businesses fall down when it comes to advertising their website.

Think long term and get your business ranking for targeted keywords and build a search engine marketing campaign that compliments your organic position on search engines and as a way to create special landing pages for promotions and specials.

Related Tags: Social Media Marketing Newcastle | SEO Newcastle