Search engine optimization and search engine marketing, as well as social media advertising, are not mutually exclusive.
Businesses don’t have to make a choice between one or the other when they can combine all methods in their online campaign.
However, first, there’s a need to define SEO and SEM as both terms are often used interchangeably even by so-called marketing experts.
It’s easy to see why.
Both involve the search engine--particularly Google as practically9 in 10 of online searchesare coursed through its portal.
SEO is simply the use of tactics, strategies, and methods to boost a website’s ranking in the Google search engine results page. It is but a component of SEM, which is defined as an online marketing campaign to boost websites through the use of both advertising and optimization.
SEM also utilizes email marketing, social media promotions, pay-per-click advertising, online directories and listings, and paid search.
Social media advertising and SEO all function under the umbrella of search engine marketing.
Who are Your Customers and What do they Want?
That is the age-old question confronting businesses since time immemorial.
As you know, a good idea is nothing when you can’t reach the intended consumer in the first place. The fact is that9 in 10 of online businesses fail. You know the most common reason? They are trying to sell a product that nobody thinks they need. This is why before you make use of the analytics and big data to know your customers first.
Marketing research will provide you with a baseline statistics to ensure you don’t go in blind. For example, your audience is people who have undergone rehabilitation programs; you can target people who have been into a rehabilitation center, say,rehab centers in California.
Search engine marketers actually include analytics as part and parcel of their core service. The results of the initial marketing research will answer the following questions:
After this, you will be able to build an accurate customer profile, as well as their online behavior.
Who are Your Competitors and How Are they Reaching their Audience?
You are not only dealing with your customers, but you need to know your competitors also and how they are reaching out to their customers.
The best part about dealing with successful competitors is that you can follow their digital footprints to map out their path to success.
With some tweaking, you can find out where you can best position yourself in a competitive market.
Different Stages in the Customer Buying Process
Your SEO, SEM, and social media advertising campaigns should be geared toward generating conversions.
It’s not enough that people should go to your website. The main objective is to get them to buy. There are four different stages in the customer purchase process:
1. Awareness-- SEM and SEO will help rank your website at the top of the search engine results page. A study in 2013 revealed websites onPage 1 on the SERP get 95% of the total website traffic. People won’t buy from you if they are not aware of your existence in the first place.
2. Consideration-- After awareness, the next step is to build trust. The important thing is to make them see that you are the answer to their problem. Blogs and articles will help establish your credibility and expertise. These can be promoted through social media, SEO, and SEM.
3. Decision-- Now is the time to reel them in after they’ve taken the bait. Online marketing techniques like discounts, freebies, loyalty awards, and other promotions will help ease their decision to buy.
4. Loyalty-- To sustain your business, you need loyal patrons. They will be your lifeblood as you go attract new customers to expand your business further. This is to assume that you have quality product and service to guarantee satisfaction and value for money.
Online marketers know these stages by heart.
Organic traffic is when your customers find you naturally when they find your link on the search engine results page. Paid traffic occurs when the customer clicks on the sponsored link.
However, which is better? Clearly, organic is more sustainable in the long term because people are not going to click on an ad all the time.
The algorithm utilized by Google is also very sophisticated. That means that those that rank high in Google search results page deserve to be there. At least, for the most part.
That means your content is trusted and relevant, as assessed by Google. On the downside, traffic developed organically takes time.
Think of it as planting a seed. You need to cultivate the land, water the seed, and make sure it has enough sunshine. Even then, you have no assurance it will grow.
There used to be a time when it was effortless to rank in Google. Just flood your website with keywords and voila!
Now, there are over1.6 billion websiteson the Internet. And Google changed its algorithms to make sure the query will get the most relevant results. Meanwhile, if you pay, your website will even rank higher than the No. 1 on the search results.
We often think that nobody clicks on Google ads. After all, we don’t do it. So why should everybody else? In fact, it’s the other way around. The pay-per-click ads by Google aregenerating 65% of the trafficcompared to 35% of organic traffic.
Again, it’s a mistake to think that paid traffic and organic traffic are mutually exclusive.
Google Ads, social media advertising, as well as HubSpot Ads, make it possible to combine both methods. With online marketing, there’s no single path. Each edge you can get should be exploited to make sure you come up on top. And stay there.
SEM, SEO, and Social Media Ads are Stronger Together, Not Apart
Just to give you an idea of the cost when you are trying to decide on whether to employ SEO, SEM, and social media advertising or a combination of three.
SEO-- The cost is low and the impact is high. But you sacrifice this with the timetable as the strategy takes time to produce results. You also don’t have full control of the results. On the upside, this is still one of the best ways to rank in the search engine results page consistently.
SEM -- The cost is higher and the impact is also high. But you have greater control of the channel with which to deliver the message, as well as the audience and links you are targeting. It also produces results quicker compared to SEO.
Social Media -- The cost is low but it doesn’t generate the same impact as SEO and SEM. You also have less control of the channel and how the message is reaching your target audience.
Even if you employ SEO only, you will get results. The same thing goes for social media advertising and SEM. SEO would bring in the organic traffic to your website, which ensures long-term sustainability.
However, you also can’t just sit around and wait for your traffic to build up. And this is where SEM and social media advertising come in. These strategies require a solid optimized customer base not just to generate quick sales but also convert them into loyal patrons.
The important thing is to identify the channel with which to reach your audience. To do this, you need to revisit your goals.
Ask yourself these questions:
Both SEO and SEM may differ in the way they deliver the results. But they are designed to deliver the same results--to course traffic to your website and increase conversion. In the same vein, your investment will also vary.
In terms of cost, for instance, SEO is cheaper than SEM. If money is tight, you can probably settle for SEO, at least when you are just starting out with your digital marketing campaign. Eventually down the road, you will need to diversify your marketing channels to reach as many prospects as possible.
Think of it as a shotgun approach. You pull the trigger and see which one hits. With analytics, you can study the numbers and determine which gives you the most ROI. In that way, you can better manage your budget as you select which strategy to boost or abandon.
Combining SEO, SEM, and social media advertising will increase your chances of success.