The Realities Of Finite Resources
We live in a world of finite resources. If you’re a business owner, you know this to be all too true. Allocating your operating budget between staffing, leases, supplies, utilities, taxes and marketing costs can be a daunting task. Breaking down a marketing strategy into something smaller than “War And Peace” can be just as formidable at times. What can be explained in a short time, however, is allocating your finite marketing resources between SEO and SEM.
What Is SEO?
Being that we are well into the digital age, you probably have some understanding of what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is. Simply put, SEO involves increasing where your website shows on a search engine results page (SERP). There are a lot of similarities between SEO and real estate in this manner. It’s all about location, location, location. Regarding SEO, owning multiple top spots on SERPs is always the goal.
Where things start to differ is how this is accomplished. SEO involves work on both the frontend (what users see) and backend (what Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. see) of your website to be effective. Some of it, such as content creation, can be easily crafted by a business owner. Other aspects of it, such as the coding of the site and garnering backlinks, requires more specialized experience.
What Is SEM?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is likely something you have some experience with as well. Just like SEO, SEM is about getting top spots on SERPs. SEM is a little different as it involves paying for these spots by bidding on keywords people are searching. These keywords can be complex as Phoenix Plumbers Who Repair Instant Hot Water Systems to something as simple as Phoenix Plumbers. The goal here is to get the top ad spot in as many relevant searches possible as cheaply as possible.
Which One Is Right For My Business?
Anyone working in digital marketing for more than a year has been asked this question. In late 2000, when Google Ads (then known as AdWords) launched, picking one over the other was a possibility. This is no longer a valid option. SEO and SEM are two sides of the same coin which weave together like an ornate tapestry when executed correctly.
SEO is a long game. By creating unique content (streamlined with your everyday operations for efficiency), backlinks, a social media presence, and conversion oriented online user experiences – your site can develop almost self-sustaining traffic. This takes continual upkeep and a longer ramp-up period for this to occur. Metrics like time on site, back to search, bounce rate and others will be an obsession for you or your marketing team for a year straight as baselines are crafted. This is where SEM comes in.
To start, SEM is a short game. When executed correctly, SEM is an almost immediate source of relevant traffic and leads for your business. Depending on your vertical, ramp-up times for SEM are 1 to 3 months. Experimentation with targeting parameters, landing page design, and textual content will provide invaluable data for SEO.
Once your site has enough history and is ranking well on SERPs for several keywords – SEM can take a different form. From here, SEM can be utilized to re-engage website visitors with hyper-relevant ads, explore new keywords to guide your SEO efforts, fortify your strongest SEO terms and uplift your weakest SEO terms. One of SEM’s biggest strengths is how quickly it can be changed. Ads can be modified with the most relevant data to your company and users at a moment’s notice – while SEO would take weeks or even months to do this.
SEO and SEM are two sides of the same coin, and when executed correctly, weave together like an ornate tapestry.
Planning, Executing & Succeeding
As noted earlier, marketing resources are finite. A business that endlessly spends more money than it brings in isn’t going to remain a business for very long. A marketing agency that’s worth your time and money are going to be cognizant of this.
Whether you run your own digital marketing efforts or work with an agency, one of the most important aspects of success is going to be having a plan. Starting out, ensure your site is up-to-date with the current SEO best practices such as proper HTML structures, mobile responsiveness, fast load times and being coded for Google Amp. Getting these SEO basics out of the way first will increase your initial input cost but will help increase the success of all other marketing efforts that succeed it.
Once a good foundation is in place, SEM should be your next focus. This will bring in instantaneous traffic while your other SEO efforts take time to gain momentum. If all of this sounds foreign or a bit overwhelming, try not to stress too much. An agency partner like Defero can work with your team to structure monthly budgets going forward for both SEO and SEM.
You don’t want to lose the forest for the trees. Remember, money taken from SEM early on means fewer leads coming in at that time – while money taken from SEO means fewer efforts being put into your site’s future self-sustaining traffic. Find a balance that reflects your goals for the year and where your business’s online presence realistically is. A marketing agency that acts as an extension of your business can help find the perfect balance of SEO and SEM and identify other important service lines that can help boost your performance. Defero prides itself on being that true partner to its clients, helping your business establish practices that yield measurable improvements and long-term success.