SEO and SEM are often placed side by side, although they express two different concepts. These are strategies that aim to increase the visibility of certain content (articles, blog posts, landing pages, entire domains) on the web or, more precisely, on search engines.
However, before devoting resources to digital marketing and relying on a web agency like Moka Adv, you need to understand the real difference between SEO and SEM.
Table of contents
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and means “optimisation (of content) for search engines”. SEO is nothing other than the set of techniques and strategies useful for positioning a website among the organic (i.e. not paid) results of search engines, first and foremost Google.
The aim of an SEO specialist is to ensure that when a user searches on a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, AOL, etc.) for a certain keyword, the website he/she has worked on appears on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP); possibly in the top ten positions.
SEO on-page and SEO off-page
SEO activity is divided into two macro-areas: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. The first concerns what can be optimised within the website, the second what can be implemented outside the website.
By “on-page activities” we refer to all those activities that you can perform within your Internet site, blog or e-commerce. These include:
By “off-page activities” is meant the set of activities directed outside the website, through which one tries to increase one’s “domain authority“, i.e. the credibility and trustworthiness of the site on search engines. Off-page activities include:
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. Unlike SEO, which attempts to reach as much “free” traffic as possible, SEM uses Paid Search Advertising (PSA).
The best known SEM tool is Google Ads, which allows you “to target” your audience for more targeted results. Bing and Yahoo also have similar tools, but have never managed to achieve the same success as Mountain View.
In a way, one could say that SEM encompasses SEO, since if content is not quality and structured in a certain way, SEM campaigns fail. Therefore, in addition to the already mentioned practices for good SEO, the following must be taken into account in the case of SEM:
Search Engine Advertising (SEA)
A feature of Paid Search Advertising (PSA), better known by the name Search Engine Advertising (SEA), is that it works both by keyword, like SEO, and by “cost per click” (CPC); in other words, the ad only costs the advertiser money when it is viewed, clicked or tapped.
The main objectives of SEA’s key performance indicators (KPIs) include:
SEO vs SEM: which is better?
As we have mentioned, a well-done SEO is an essential prerequisite for SEM. Without landing pages and quality content we can invest in PSA or SEA all we want, we will achieve nothing!
Of course, SEM allows one to achieve great results in a short time, but it is only with SEO that one really ranks in the SERPs. It can be said, therefore, that SEO and SEM are two “complementary” strategies and that there is no single answer to the question «which is the best strategy?»; both are valid.
However, SEO is to be preferred, for two reasons:
Why SEO is important for enterprises 4.0
Enterprise 4.0 is the result of the transformations brought by digital technologies and global interconnection; it also has to do with the Italian Transition 4.0 plan, which supports and incentivises innovative SMEs.
To sum up: SEO is important because it makes a company appear in search results; a web designer may have created the best possible user experience (UX), but if it is not supported by a digital marketing strategy, elaborated by an SEO specialist and applied by a copywriter (sometimes the two are merged into one), the very existence of the site will serve little purpose. A site exists the moment it is indexed and positioned, i.e. after SEO.
SEO is therefore important because: