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Search Engine Optimisation vs Search Engine Marketing



In earlier blog posts we've discussed how your brand can deliver sales growth and the impact of social media on selling (such as the use of social video to enhance engagement). Another aspect of using digital marketing to drive lead generation is obtaining traffic from search engines. You've probably heard the terms search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) thrown around. In this post we will outline how the two relate and why they are an important part of your digital marketing strategy.


Search Engine Marketing

Search is a massive market, with over 20 billion searches carried out each month in the US alone. It is easy to see why you need to get your message in front of these users (both on desktop and mobile devices). SEM and SEO are both often used in conjunction with one another. SEM involves running paid ads (typically text in the right hand margin of the search results or in a box above other search rankings). It is designed to give you instant targeted traffic based on the keywords you select to run your ad campaign around. It has a constant cost associated with it - typically you pay per click with a daily spend limit. When you stop paying, the traffic from SEM stops. 

Search Engine Optimisation

By contrast, SEO requires larger upfront investment, takes a while to kick in and involves the testing of hypotheses (and therefore more analysis of data). Your costs are in relation to time rather than ad spend. However, if successful, traffic continues to climb over time and may give you access to more customers than you otherwise would have been able to afford to access to with SEM (a parallel could be drawn with viral vs paid marketing on social platforms like Facebook). 

Seeing Results

A question that clients often ask is how we know whether SEO or SEM is working (or any other digital strategy for that matter). This is where analytics and marketing automation comes in - it is with these tools that we can understand what areas of your digital marketing campaigns are working, what still needs work, and calculate return on investment. They allow us to track things like the sale of an item, or the submission of a contact form, and where the user that did that action came from. In the case of offline business, you may need to work on strategies to get your customers back to your website to complete the feedback loop.

If you don't know or can't work out how your traditional marketing strategies are performing, think about taking a different approach. Knowing where your customers are coming from should not be a surprise if you are spending your advertising dollars wisely. The ROI that can be achieved through targeted digital marketing techniques such as SEO and SEM is through the roof relative to tactics that have been used in the past. Regardless of your industry, it is essential that you are not missing out on this traffic. 


Timothy Roberts

Tim is fascinated by the value that can be created in truly understanding the way people interact with a brand or product through measurable data.