In almost any media planning for a business, SEO and SEM strategies are fundamental. SEO and SEM positioning and search marketing strategies . SEM and SEO are essential in digital marketing strategies for search engine positioning . At least one of them must be accommodated if our product or service is sought and we want to be found. Therefore, they are not exclusive but complementary.

Both strategies must be used. SEO benefits from the traffic that is generated in a SEM campaign. And this, improves your results by an optimized SEO onpage that allows a higher level of quality. The ideal is to work both strategies in a joint and coordinated manner, since they can be perfectly complemented, although there are specific cases in which they are not usually used.

What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO, optimization for search engines , can be defined as the process for improving the visibility of a website in the organic results of the different search engines. It will be work of optimization and increase in the popularity of the website , with the aim of being traceable by the search engines, correctly indexed and relevant so that the greatest number of its pages appear in the top positions of search engines after consultations search of users. In our case, we will focus on Google. There are two fundamental factors that influence the positioning: Relevance and authority.

Google considers that a website is relevant when it accurately corresponds to a specific search carried out by a user. SEO onpage techniques are applied , actions that we carry out within our own website to optimize them for search engines, such as optimization of keywords, provision of friendly URLs, improvement of user experience or reduction of loading time, etc.

As for authority, a website has authority when it is popular . It is about all those optimization actions that serve to increase the popularity of our website. The popularity is achieved by improving the number of links from other sites that point to ours, and we will do so by publishing guest articles on other blogs, distributing interesting content through social media and that becomes viral, with the publication of notes of press, etc. These signals are external factors to our website. These are the so-called offpage SEO techniques . It should be noted, the linkbuilding.

What is the SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

The SEM, marketing in search engines , includes the techniques used to improve the positioning of a website through paid ads that appear on the search results page for certain keywords. In our case, it refers to the promotion of a website in search engines through the use of paid ads through platforms such as Google AdWords or Bing Ads , which can be extended to other types of advertising through these and other display platforms and social media, through payment based on the clicks generated by the ads. 

The main differences between SEO and SEM

Regarding the deadlines for obtaining results

SEO requires a longer period of time than SEM . The results in SEO are obtained in the medium-long term and does not guarantee that the work that is being done will position. It does not offer any guarantee that the first positions can be reached and the fluctuations in the position in the ranking of results are not too great, they usually occur when the algorithms of the search engines implement important modifications.

On the contrary, SEM is a very effective strategy from the first moment , almost immediately, since it starts to appear directly in the results of Google for all the keywords that have been chosen and you can extend everything you want in the time.

In paid ads, the change of positions in the rankings can be constant. The ranking of the ads is modified, which depends on a mathematical formula that takes into account the bid and a quality factor that is calculated in real time for each search.

In SEO, it is normal to perform actions for positioning in a few key words , while with SEM there is no such limitation.

Regarding effectiveness, flexibility and how they are shown

SEO is more powerful than SEM because of the greater confidence that transmits to users an organic result as opposed to one marked as “advertisement”. That implies that the CTR (Click Through Rate) of SEO are somewhat higher than in SEM, especially in first positions. However, with SEM it is possible to get ahead of the first SEO . Another thing is that users want to click or not being a payment link, but if you respond to what the user seeks, it usually works and clicks. The CTR is high for the first positions. In any case, both in SEO and in SEM, the rate of click (CTR) decreases with the position. A lower position, fewer clicks.

The SEM is very flexible , and the changes are effective immediately. On the contrary, SEO is not very flexible and does not apply quickly.

In search engines, paid or sponsored ads are displayed under an “ad” tag and usually appear in the upper area, but sometimes also in the side and bottom of the results page. In contrast, organic SEO results do not carry any label and tend to show up immediately after the first paid links.

Better SEM in a Landing Page

For example, if you want to promote a Landing Page, the most appropriate strategy would be to make a SEM campaign, since a landing, taking it as the concept of a single page portal with hardly any content, would not have options to position itself. In any case, it could be interesting for the keyword of the domain.

A landing page is a web page specifically to convert visitors into leads. Offer something so that the user is willing to leave information through a form to later contact them. Or, it can be a page of our site intentionally that we try so that our traffic arrives and we pretend that it carries out a certain action. Therefore, the content will be specific and necessary to achieve the purpose for which the landing page was created.

Regarding the investment, SEM is paid, but SEO is not “free”

The SEM, in addition, has the “disadvantage” that when you stop investing, “you stop going out”, although we must not forget that it gives a powerful capture of new “clients” when it is active. In SEO, it is not necessary to think at all that it is “free” , so much in time that we can “invest” ourselves, as if we need a specialist or even someone who is capable of making changes in the programming or in the design. In SEO, we are talking about a fixed cost with respect to the company responsible for optimizing the page and generating the content.

Anyway, SEO is the positioning in organic or natural results in browsers, and does not need direct investment in advertising, unlike SEM which refers to the effective management of sponsored links in search engines. In SEM the cost is variable, according to the work of campaign management and payment for visits .

Regarding the measurement

For SEO metrics you can use the Google Search Console tool , which gives certain information, the positions and keywords that have generated us clicks. But the resulting information is incomplete and hinders SEO positioning work.

On the contrary, in SEM, and thanks to the own tools that Google AdWords supplies, you can have the data and statistics of keywords and metrics of a campaign . You can also have them through Google Analytics . Using this tool, we will see that Google cares about privacy in searches, and identifies as ‘Not provided’ the keywords that users look for in their platform having a session started, it is more difficult to know the keywords or queries by which they are getting traffic.

The application of SEO and SEM in the digital marketing strategy

To begin, we must not miss the opportunity of, if we have to address the creation of a website from scratch, do it with current technologies, easy to manage, adaptable to all types of devices and with a high degree of usability. That is, conveniently prepare the website to be more user friendly with Google.

Betting on a good SEO optimization , because we try to offer the best version of our business and, therefore, of us. Therefore, positioning with SEO is fundamental for searches. A well optimized website will have a higher quality index, which will affect the CPC and the ranking of our search ads. However, the first thing is the SEM.

First steps for positioning

The first thing is to identify the keywords by which we want to position ourselves. We will previously study the keywords for which we want to position ourselves, we will locate the ones that have more searches and cause more clicks. And for that, we’ll use SEM tools ( SEMrush or the Google AdWords Word Planner ) just like if we did a paid campaign. The best thing is to find keywords that many users are looking for, but in which the offer of web pages positioned is relatively low at that time. We will leave for SEO the positioning of those keywords that have a higher cost per click (CPC) in Google AdWords.

From here, we can decide whether to start a SEM campaign to get visits and immediate results; or, these keywords that interest us we incorporate them into our site with a good content marketing strategy that will end up contributing linkbuilding in a natural way and visits to social networks due to the quality of the contents that have been shared in the same. In this way, in the medium or long term, we will achieve natural or organic positioning. That is, SEO. The best positioned keywords, as well as those with a local scope, we can boost with organic traffic, and we will leave those that are poorly positioned, for SEM campaigns.

Launch a SEM campaign

The SEM strategy is essential to establish and establish the business within a specific, well-selected niche. Get more immediate results. It allows us to measure better than in other advertising strategies.

SEM ads focus on users who are really interested in converting, those who need to solve the idea of ​​buying that they have in their heads, but the conversion rate will be very low and, rather, SEM focuses mainly on sales . In addition, according to the ROI obtained, you can control the results of the campaign. But there are other searches to take advantage of, but they have different objectives, more than branding, not sales.

The SEM is the best way for new and small brands, without traffic or prior brand awareness, to be known both for the immediacy of their results, as well as for the possibility of competing with others more established in the market with less budget than the necessary to access traditional media; in addition to the level of flexibility to be doing actions little by little and to measure; and for the control it allows over the budget and the objectives. We would even say that the data can help to better understand the target and its needs.

With little budget, and if the product allows it, start with small SEM campaigns and other low cost actions to get backlinks (collaborations, publications, etc.). However, it is not advisable to start an SEM campaign without having done a good preliminary study and without consulting a specialist, since it is easy to make mistakes and spend the budget quickly without obtaining results (for example, ignoring the quality index, preparing little ads optimized without guiding the user to the most appropriate landing or to the conversion, etc.).

Improve the level of quality

For Google to give us a better position of the ads, these and the experience of the landing page are elements that the more relevant they are for the user, the greater the probability of achieving higher quality levels and that can contribute to paying less and opt for a better position in the searches.

Therefore, the advertiser has to work on the quality level and not leave everything in the hands of the users who decide to click on the ads and contribute to making the CTR better. The “philosophy of Google” is to give value to the user to find what they are looking for, but always taking into account for the ad’s ranking (position), in addition to the bid strategy (for example, the CPC), the quality level (the quality of the ad, the effectiveness of the landing page and the expected CTR). The texts of the advertisements should have a more commercial approach.

You must analyze the results of the SEM campaigns and check if the keywords have been positioned by SEO to stop bidding on them in Google AdWords. The analysis of results allows to see if the visibility in the search engines is increased and it serves to progressively reduce the costs.

Start of the SEO strategy

Based on the results and the historical, start the SEO strategy knowing what are our keywords with the most potential. Next, the optimization of the web would have to be improved, which would not imply too much work since an initial work would have already been done.

You should analyze the results and check if those keywords that had a high CPC have been positioned after betting on SEO.

Finally, a longer-term strategy would have to be planned, including the actions corresponding to the generation of content, social media and the attainment of links. That is, SEO offpage. Implement a content strategy with attractive, relevant and extensive texts with the clear objective of achieving quality traffic and visibility of the website.

Content is one of the most relevant points currently in SEO, and especially linked to Social Networks, so SEO and Social Media go hand in hand to achieve a good organic positioning in search engines. Therefore, we must create original, interesting, relevant content that generates engagement with the clear objective of being shared on other websites, blogs and social networks. This will involve getting more links and better positioning thanks to Social SEO.

Therefore, it will be essential to develop a marketing strategy for quality content to generate interest .

The SEO that is carried now premiums the original content, which benefits the users. And as Google says: “think of the user (more than the robots) and the rest will come alone”.

On the other hand, plugins make SEO much easier and almost oblige to write unconsciously to achieve the best possible positioning. But it is necessary, because it is an opportunity to get ahead of the competition.