Click Here – Understanding SEO/SEM

You just launched your organization’s website, and you need to start drawing visitors to build awareness, sell, or inform your audience about your product or service. Now what? Luckily in today’s connected world, there are a variety of ways to drive traffic to your online property. Let’s start off with a discussion of the two most widely-used activities to promote your online property: Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEM as a whole is a form of Internet marketing that is focused on driving traffic and increasing visibility through advertising and optimization. The concept for SEM is quite simple. When a consumer searches the Web by searching for key phrases, they are sending targeted requests for information that a search engine translates into a list of relevant websites. Marketers have been able to determine this consumer mindset indicates the searcher may very well be somewhere in the buying cycle, researching a product or service to try and satisfy an immediate or future need. That makes search engine results some of the best sources of targeted traffic allowing marketers to leverage this power against consumers very effectively.

In terms of the big picture, SEO, while a distinct activity, falls under the umbrella of SEM. SEO is the act of optimizing a website through keywords and website development to boost natural search engine listings. Search engine optimization is one of the most cost effective functions of a digital marketing campaign and SEM program. Some of the common tactics within an SEM campaign include:

• Paid inclusion and trusted feed programs
• Pay-for-placement management (includes pay-per-click)
• Link popularity/reputation development
As mentioned above, SEO is a multidisciplinary activity that seeks to generate productive organic traffic from search engines via technically sound and connected sites by matching query intent with relevance and value. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page) and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of searches, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines. SEO takes time and patience; however, if utilized correctly, it can be extremely beneficial to an organization in terms of viewership.

When used together, SEO/SEM can benefit each other to increase conversion rates and share of voice. Insights gained when buying pay-per-click (PPC) keyword ads can positively impact SEO creative initiatives, while natural search queries and click path data can, and should, influence keyword bidding.

Independently, SEO/SEM are very powerful tools. However, together SEO/SEM complement each other to the point where they are almost used interchangeably. In order to effectively merge SEO/SEM, there are three steps that need to be taken.

1) Identify Overlap- You start by identifying the high-volume and top-converting search queries in each channel. Once you have filtered to find the most impactful search queries, the next step is to evaluate how they perform.

2) Measure the Paid Click Percentage- Measuring the click-share of each channel is a better way to find coverage holes and overlap than trying to compare the number of impressions, clicks, and conversions that each channel is driving. Sorting these terms by paid search revenue impact will give you a ranked list of queries (and landing pages) to optimize against, allowing you to more efficiently prioritize SEO projects.

3) Refine and Repeat- Websites and advertising programs are continually changing. This analysis should be done on a regular basis and changed if it is not producing the results you seek.

SEO/SEM has given marketers great insights into consumer buying patterns. It is important that organizations take advantage of this technology so that they can maximize their ROI.

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