Whether you are looking to improve your website, or you are designing it entirely from scratch, website marketing will have an important role to play.

Your title tags will need to be on-point, your homepage should look enticing, and your customers should be incentivized to come and visit you again.

This is the basis of what makes a website optimized for both internet users and search engines — your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. However, that isn’t the end of the story….

SEO vs SEM Story

Not the end of the story, not by a long shot.

You will need a robust procedure for bringing in regular website visitors. And for this, you will need to go beyond SEO, and consider your marketing strategy as a whole. A popular and complementary channel will be SEM (search engine marketing or PPC). Here’s how the two differ, and complement each other.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

SEO is all about improving your organic rankings — and as such, it’s a long-term marketing strategy that takes into account on-page elements, as well as off-site elements like backlinks.

Here are some of the essentials of SEO you need to know:

You will need to give search engines a range of clues as to the content and function of your website. To do this efficiently, you will need to conduct keyword research using SEO tools. Try to insert these terms naturally within your website’s page titles, meta description, image tags, body copy etc., because forcing them in will harm your website’s rankings.

SEM vs SEO doing it right

Take the time to do it right, otherwise, your page rank will fall.

When it comes to content planning, consideration for your website’s SEO should stay at the forefront of your strategy. By optimizing for search, you are providing readers with high-quality information that answers their queries.

You should also ensure you add regularly updated content that links back and forth between other high-quality websites in your niche. You should also try to score organic mentions and links back to your branded website. This is called link building, and it is another critical strategy for bringing in organic traffic.

Finally, don’t forget about your website speed. 40% of internet users abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, and a slow website will damage your SEO due to poor engagement metrics.

If you’ve used a closed-source system to build your website then the speed will be looked after by the software company you built your website with. But if you’ve had a custom website built, or used an open-source online platform, you’ll have to manage your website speed yourself. This guide has some really useful tips to help you look after your website speed.

SEM- Search Engine Marketing

SEM or paid search uses paid-for marketing campaigns in the form of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing.

As much as we hope our brand name develops a good organic reputation in online search rankings, most of us will have to shell out on some targeted ad campaigns. Especially if you are a new brand.

PPC to Boost SEO and SEM

PPC can help gain attention when you’re new or not popular.

Employing PPC through Google and Bing ads is an excellent source of high-converting traffic for brands. If you want to get noticed in your local area, or further afield, pay per click campaigns can make a massive difference to your bottom line. Paid search can also help you plan effective SEO strategies so that you can incorporate these two acquisition streams together into a singular brand message.

But the really useful thing about PPC is how measurable it is.

PPC comes with a wealth of analytics behind it and that means you can review how successful your different campaigns have been – you can go really granular and look at the finite details, such as region and age, to establish where you should be directing your campaign.

This means that you can “target the right people at the right time, in the right place.”

The Difference Is Distinct But You Need Both

Both SEO and SEM work in tandem to build a brand’s online image. However, if you are looking to outsource these tasks, you will need to need to draw clear distinctions when negotiating the right deal for you.

If you are a new website, you will need to make sure your website is fully optimized before any paid campaigns will be genuinely useful. You will ideally be looking for an SEO agency that can plan and build a website with great UX. And, you will need to ensure that the mobile website looks stunning and functions just as smoothly.

The content you create must also be carefully planned out and designed to hold the reader’s attention and keep them coming back for more.

SEO vs SEM content marketing

High quality content will keep your site visitors engaged.

An audit, research, content creation and complete website set up will be the key priorities in getting your website’s SEO sorted.

However, to dig a little deeper, and to really see good results fast, you will also need to invest in SEM. PPC ad campaigns are relatively quick and easy to set up — the real work comes when you start optimizing campaigns and tweaking ad copy. You will need to balance PPC bidding so that campaigns remain profitable overall.

Pay per click advertising will let you know which sales messages work best.  You can then include them prominently within your website’s content.

Digital PR

It is always worth investing in your brand’s digital PR, as this is an integral part of building up your website’s SEO over the long term.

A link to an article that mentions your website on a leading news network can be a significant boost to your website. For instance, if you get yourself listed in a product roundup article, you can reach millions of readers and create a steady stream of page views.

You can also ‘cheat’ this same system by investing in native advertising, hosted through websites like Taboola and Outbrain.

Native advertising mimics the writing style of a general newspaper article. However, brands can utilize these posts to ‘hijack’ the news and weave in their product recommendations to influence the reader to take a closer look.

Automate What You Can To Boost Your Overall Performance

As far as ‘being in control of your brand’s narrative,’ you will also want to ensure that you are automating marketing tasks as much as you can. You can also use automation to keep a careful eye on any incoming feedback data.

SEO vs SEM automation

Use automation for your mundane repetitive tasks.

Each SEO and SEM company you use will keep you ‘in the loop’ as far as figures and ROI goes. However, you will also want to ensure that you can access and make use of the numbers yourself.

Once you have linked analytics to your CRM, ensure that your website can set up retargeting ads, referral ads, personalized empty cart emails, opt-in email popups, shoppable social media galleries, etc. All these tactics are part of the bigger marketing picture.

SEO and SEM are vital to a website’s growth and profitability in the long term. By building up your brand through strong SEO foundations, you can create an attractive website that will stay in your visitor’s minds.

But if you want to make sure your brand message sticks, using search engine marketing alongside your SEO tactics will do just that. You may even decide that you want to ramp up your efforts by incorporating Facebook advertising into your marketing strategy.

Whatever you decide, make sure that you have given consideration to all of your options before settling on your final approach.

Victoria Greene

Victoria Greene

Victoria is a brand consultant and freelance writer. She writes a blog called Victoriaecommerce.com. Here she shares advice to business owners looking to make the most of their digital marketing budgets.