When the topic of SEO vs SEM arises, some experts may argue that SEO is the best way to go as it offers higher quality leads at a cheaper cost when compared to SEM. However, it isn’t so simple. Every business is different and has unique needs. For example, your small business may not have a big ad budget and it may also lack the resources needed for doing effective SEO.

SEM is the wider discipline that incorporates SEO. SEM includes both paid search results (using tools like Google Adwords or Bing Ads, formerly known as Microsoft adCenter) and organic search results (SEO). SEM uses paid advertising with AdWords or Bing Ads, pay per click (particularly beneficial for local providers as it enables potential consumers to contact a company directly with one click), article submissions, advertising and making sure SEO has been done. A keyword analysis is performed for both SEO and SEM, but not necessarily at the same time. SEM and SEO both need to be monitored and updated frequently to reflect evolving best practices.


Clients turn to search engines because they really need a product or service. They have already created a need; it only remains to find a company that suits their interests. It is a medium that can easily encourage conversion, if the company offers what the customer is looking for; the visit will result in action by the customer, either a direct purchase, request for a quote, or more information for a later purchase.
That's why it's necessary to always stay abreast of developments in the SEO world, so that you can see these algorithm updates coming or you can determine what to do once they’ve been released. The WordStream blog is a great resource for SEO updates, but we also recommend Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable for news on updates. Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive is also a great resource for analyzing the causes and impact of algorithm updates.
PPC (paid search marketing): PPC (pay per click) advertising involves paying to have search engines display your website offer in or alongside search results. For example, Google's Adwords program will display your ad at the top or right side of the search results page (placement depends on many factors including keywords and quality of ad). Google will also feed your ads to websites running its Adsense program. There are other types of PPC marketing, such as Facebook Ads. In PPC advertising, you pay each time someone clicks on your offer. Paid search differs from organize search in that you're paying to have your website or offer displayed higher in search results.

Anyone with a website can greatly benefit from understanding organic search engine optimization. Also called organic SEO, organic search engine optimization is a process of optimizing your website copy and HTML in order to help your website rank higher on search engines like Google and Bing. This way potential customers can find you quickly and easily.
The leading search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!, use crawlers to find pages for their algorithmic search results. Pages that are linked from other search engine indexed pages do not need to be submitted because they are found automatically. The Yahoo! Directory and DMOZ, two major directories which closed in 2014 and 2017 respectively, both required manual submission and human editorial review.[39] Google offers Google Search Console, for which an XML Sitemap feed can be created and submitted for free to ensure that all pages are found, especially pages that are not discoverable by automatically following links[40] in addition to their URL submission console.[41] Yahoo! formerly operated a paid submission service that guaranteed crawling for a cost per click;[42] however, this practice was discontinued in 2009.
As the number of sites on the Web increased in the mid-to-late 1990s, search engines started appearing to help people find information quickly. Search engines developed business models to finance their services, such as pay per click programs offered by Open Text[7] in 1996 and then Goto.com[8] in 1998. Goto.com later changed its name[9] to Overture in 2001, was purchased by Yahoo! in 2003, and now offers paid search opportunities for advertisers through Yahoo! Search Marketing. Google also began to offer advertisements on search results pages in 2000 through the Google AdWords program. By 2007, pay-per-click programs proved to be primary moneymakers[10] for search engines. In a market dominated by Google, in 2009 Yahoo! and Microsoft announced the intention to forge an alliance. The Yahoo! & Microsoft Search Alliance eventually received approval from regulators in the US and Europe in February 2010.[11]
The response rate here was huge because this is a mutually beneficial relationship. The bloggers get free products to use within their outfits (as well as more clothes for their wardrobe!) and I was able to drive traffic through to my site, get high-quality backlinks, a load of social media engagement and some high-end photography to use within my own content and on product pages.

On April 24, 2012 many started to see that Google has started to penalize companies that are buying links for the purpose of passing off the rank. The Google Update was called Penguin. Since then, there have been several different Penguin/Panda updates rolled out by Google. SEM has, however, nothing to do with link buying and focuses on organic SEO and PPC management. As of October 20, 2014 Google has released three official revisions of their Penguin Update.
Craft or improve your email marketing strategy. Consider implementing Calls to Action that engage your readership in immediate ways. This works whether you’re selling a product, hosting an event, or delivering new content for your subscribers to enjoy. Set time aside to regularly draft emails–consider making a goal to write a set number of email drafts per week.

Another ethical controversy associated with search marketing has been the issue of trademark infringement. The debate as to whether third parties should have the right to bid on their competitors' brand names has been underway for years. In 2009 Google changed their policy, which formerly prohibited these tactics, allowing 3rd parties to bid on branded terms as long as their landing page in fact provides information on the trademarked term.[27] Though the policy has been changed this continues to be a source of heated debate.[28]

The first one is pretty powerful and pretty awesome, which is investing in demand generation, rather than just demand serving, but demand generation for brand and branded product names. Why does this work? Well, because let's say, for example, I'm searching for SEO tools. What do I get? I get back a list of results from Google with a bunch of mostly articles saying these are the top SEO tools. In fact, Google has now made a little one box, card-style list result up at the top, the carousel that shows different brands of SEO tools. I don't think Moz is actually listed in there because I think they're pulling from the second or the third lists instead of the first one. Whatever the case, frustrating, hard to optimize for. Google could take away demand from it or click-through rate opportunity from it.


Another one of the benefits of SEM is that people who see your PPC ads are those most likely to want to buy your product or service. PPC ads require you to choose a geographic location and specific search queries to target. As a result, you can be sure that anyone who clicks on your ad is not arbitrarily surfing the web, but rather, is looking for your product or service and in a position to do so.
Amber Kemmis is the VP of Client Services at SmartBug Media. Having a psychology background in the marketing world has its perks, especially with inbound marketing. My past studies in human behavior and psychology have led me to strongly believe that traditional ad marketing only turns prospects away, and advertising spend never puts the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Thus, resulting in wasted marketing efforts and investment. I'm determined to help each and every one of our clients attract and retain new customers in a delightful and helpful way that leads to sustainable revenue growth. Read more articles by Amber Kemmis.
Thanks for the comment Slava good too see your team is on top of things and happy you liked the post. The website in the case listed was a client who has taken on an agency who was doing lower quality SEO work which was affecting the site such as the huge link network and a strategy which only revolved around mainly head terms. We saw no long tail integration from the old agency's strategy, so we were able to yield great results to begin with. The clients site has 100's of high quality articles which we were able to re optimize and update as noted. Further to this they had a large index of high quality pages to work from. Sure enough the points listed above were key elements to a far wider strategy which could be 100's of points. I just wanted to include some of the biggest wins and easy to implement points.  
Organic search should not be viewed as just one of many different marketing strategies. Instead, it should be the cornerstone of your efforts. Your materials should all be optimized to maximize their appearance on the SERPs. You should also be using the insights that can be gleaned from organic search to inform the rest of your marketing endeavors.

Knowing which pages visitors go to directly gives you an opportunity to design those pages so they accurately and quickly address visitors' needs. For example, if you sell clothing and your new-arrivals page is a popular destination, you want to be sure the content is always fresh, and you want to provide easy access to the full department represented by each new item. Who wants to see the same items week after week on a page that is supposed to represent the cutting edge of your inventory? And if you're featuring a new raincoat or bathing suit, you want to let visitors also easily see your whole line of raincoats or bathing suits."

Local SERPs that remove almost all need for a website. Then local SERPs, which have been getting more and more aggressively tuned so that you never need to click the website, and, in fact, Google has made it harder and harder to find the website in both mobile and desktop versions of local searches. So if you search for Thai restaurant and you try and find the website of the Thai restaurant you're interested in, as opposed to just information about them in Google's local pack, that's frustratingly difficult. They are making those more and more aggressive and putting them more forward in the results.
Which one wins in a fight? If I were a betting man, I’d put my money of organic search traffic. As exciting as it is to see a quick surge in traffic from an effective PPC campaign, I’d take sustainability over a short-lived win any day. And that’s just the surface. I’ve gone over several of the benefits that organic search traffic can have on your business. I’m talking about the kind of results that correlate with cold hard ROI.Use the insights, implement the action steps, and stay competitive.
For our client: We monitored everything on a daily basis. If something came up, which needed to be fixed, we were quick to implement it with the development team at the business. We also rolled out numerous campaigns multiple times as they worked effectively the first time around in generating significant traffic so it was second nature to do the same thing twice.
Additionally, knowing how your SEO is performing can help you make the necessary changes over time to keep your rankings high. Look around for a keyword tracking tool to help you track how your SEO is performing. It’s typical for your ranking to fluctuate from week to week and even day to day. Look for a general upward trend from month to month that shows that your efforts are successful.
Great analysis and tips, Rand. Your first tip was to focus on branded search... but when it comes to small-medium businesses, there's a limit on how much brand search-demand one can produce. Are you saying that google search will eventually become an engine made only for entities/businesses we already know of? Where does that leave the whole discovery process?
If you've never been on Product Hunt before, it's like a daily Reddit feed for new products. Products get submitted to the community and they're voted on. Each day products are stacked in descending order based on how many votes they've had. Ranking at the top of the daily list can result in thousands of conversion-focused traffic to your site, just as the creator of Nomad List found out.
Google doesn't always include a whole paragraph of text in the Featured Snippet. If you add "Step 1," "Step 2," "Step 3," etc. to the start of each HTML heading within your content (for example, within your H2 tags), Google will sometimes just list out your headings within the Featured Snippet. I've started to see this happen more and more in keywords beginning with "how to".
Optimization techniques are highly tuned to the dominant search engines in the target market. The search engines' market shares vary from market to market, as does competition. In 2003, Danny Sullivan stated that Google represented about 75% of all searches.[63] In markets outside the United States, Google's share is often larger, and Google remains the dominant search engine worldwide as of 2007.[64] As of 2006, Google had an 85–90% market share in Germany.[65] While there were hundreds of SEO firms in the US at that time, there were only about five in Germany.[65] As of June 2008, the marketshare of Google in the UK was close to 90% according to Hitwise.[66] That market share is achieved in a number of countries.
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Social is no longer just about conversation and content; it’s now an established channel for customer acquisition, remarketing and engaging existing fans/customers to support retention programs. It may be relatively immature compared to search and email marketing but it’s a channel in which most ecommerce teams are ramping up investment (people and tools).
A good example is Facebook Custom Audiences. Within this Facebook supports email targeting, the ability to upload customer email addresses and then target those users on Facebook with tailored ads. This lets you micro-segment based on your existing customer database. One application is customer loyalty marketing, promoting offers to existing high value users via Facebook ads.
Now, it’s important to emphasize that the term “organic marketing” doesn’t mean that no money is spent. You’re still going to invest in your marketing strategy and any related software ( Hubspot for inbound, MailChimp for email lists, Buffer for scheduling social media posts, and the like). Rather, organic means you’re not paying to boost the specific post itself.
Utilizing keywords in your URLs will also help with your rankings. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to change the home page URL of your website without your domain authority being reset. However, each additional page you add is a place to insert a keyword, as long as it is relevant to the actual page content. We’ll go over blogging shortly, but URLs of blog posts are a great place to use your keywords.
Anyone who types in a search query has a specific intent. And they’re expecting the content that they find in the SERPs to satisfy that intent. If you can understand the search intent of your prospective customers, it will transform your marketing in several ways. You’ll be able to predict what keywords your potential customers are likely to use.  It’s easy to start targeting keywords with no structure or strategy. But that’s a mistake.

Having large groups of content that all revolve around the same topic will build more relevance around keywords that you're trying to rank for within these topics, and it makes it much easier for Google to associate your content with specific topics. Not only that, but it makes it much easier to interlink between your content, pushing more internal links through your website.
In February 2011, Google announced the Panda update, which penalizes websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources. Historically websites have copied content from one another and benefited in search engine rankings by engaging in this practice. However Google implemented a new system which punishes sites whose content is not unique.[35] The 2012 Google Penguin attempted to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine.[36] Although Google Penguin has been presented as an algorithm aimed at fighting web spam, it really focuses on spammy links[37] by gauging the quality of the sites the links are coming from. The 2013 Google Hummingbird update featured an algorithm change designed to improve Google's natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages. Hummingbird's language processing system falls under the newly recognised term of 'Conversational Search' where the system pays more attention to each word in the query in order to better match the pages to the meaning of the query rather than a few words [38]. With regards to the changes made to search engine optimization, for content publishers and writers, Hummingbird is intended to resolve issues by getting rid of irrelevant content and spam, allowing Google to produce high-quality content and rely on them to be 'trusted' authors.
Many page owners think that organic reach (the number of unique individuals who see your post pop up in their news feeds) is enough to make an impact. This was true in the first few years of Facebook but is no longer the case. Facebook, and many other social media networks is truly a pay-to-play network. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all on algorithmic feeds, meaning posts are shown to the user based on past behavior and preferences instead of in chronological order. Organic posts from your Facebook page only reach about 2% of your followers, and that number is dropping. Facebook recently announced that, in order to correct a past metrics error, it is changing the way it reports viewable impressions, and organic reach will be 20% lower on average when this change takes effect.

For a small business, it is better to start with Organic SEO because aside from it is a low-cost investment, it will build your internet presence gradually and eventually have a solid foundation in your own niche – provided that you are doing the right way. It is not bad to invest in non-organic. You just have to make sure that you are investing on the right campaigns and not on the overly artificial ways to gain traffic and rank. Avoid investing too much on paid advertising and instead invest on creating relevant and useful content.

The first is that you look at who are your current customers, who are your prospects, what groups are they in, and join those same groups if they’re relevant and not too title specific to a marketer or a different field that you’re not in. But really starting with the folks that you already are working with and using them to figure out which groups are most relevant. This is also especially important because I think it was about a year ago, LinkedIn now made all the groups private. So you can’t go in and look at what’s going on in the group. And it’s really hard to know which ones are the best ones to join just by doing simple searches on say the title of the group. So, start with the folks that you know.
However, you can use paid campaigns to reinforce core messages that you’ve shared via organic posts. For example, if the company has been involved in a public crisis (think Volkswagen and the emissions crisis), then information you’ve provided to people who have contacted you can be used as part of a wider educational marketing program with paid ads to extend the message reach.
Paid marketing, on the other hand, allows business to target, reach, engage, and convert their audiences quickly and directly. Instead of waiting – or hoping – for someone to find your blog post in organic search or on social, paid marketing has you “pushing” content – mainly in the form of ads – directly to your target audiences. As such, it’s much more sales-forward and focused on driving specific actions, like making a purchase or attending a webinar. Here’s an example of this in action:
Your strategy defines your audience, your platform, your content, and even how you measure success. For example, if you sell a product for a young demographic, you may decide that Instagram is the best place to build your brand by using a series of witty pictures with a strong call to action to make a purchase. Alternatively, you may decide to extend the reach of your brand by attempting to break into a new market, such as building a rapport with women, who comprise a large proportion of Pinterest users. Micro-blogging may be an ideal way to give busy business people the bite-sized content they need on their morning commute, while infographics provide visual punch to make a point instantly.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Maximizes search result exposure by targeting and driving Web traffic and ultimately delivering increased sales. The majority of search engine page results come from unpaid or organic search. SEO optimizes websites to ensure top search engine placement, such as Google, as only 15 percent of searchers continue beyond page one.
That said, ground-up marketing works because it’s work. There’s no substitute for careful attention to your website’s content and careful curation of your business’s social media presence. Paid ads can be an effective tool within a high-budget marketing strategy, but if the consumer arrives at your website and doesn’t find what they’re looking for, how is that investment working for you? It’s not. If a sponsored tweet draws them in but a discrepancy in expectation chases them away, what’s the benefit there? It’s absent. Organic marketing is a long process, but ultimately it will yield more authentic customer engagement and more accurate SEO.
Link building is a catchall term for the practice of creating new external links to your site. Beyond creating great content people want to share, guest blogging and asking webmasters from authoritative sites relevant to your business to link back to your pages are great ways to build links. When possible, use keywords are the anchor text for your links, as this will help send signals to Google that your pages are relevant for those terms.
An ideal keyword has high monthly searches and a relatively low keyword difficulty. Once you find some keywords that make sense for your business, have a relatively high search volume and a relatively low keyword difficulty, it’s time to research the competition. However, you’ll first want to understand how local searches affect organic search engine optimization.
Retargeting: Each platform offers retargeting to help you reach people who’ve already visited your website. The benefit of retargeting is that a conversion is more likely when you know the prospect is interested. You might also upload an email list and use Facebook Custom Audiences to serve ads directly to subscribers. In the following example, we see two ads that show in the Facebook sidebar to reach former web visitors.
Beyond organic and direct traffic, you must understand the difference between all of your traffic sources and how traffic is classified. Most web analytics platforms, like Google Analytics, utilize an algorithm and flow chart based on the referring website or parameters set within the URL that determine the source of traffic. Here is a breakdown of all sources:
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