Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing: 5 Main Differences

Monday, August 7th, 2017
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For businesses looking to build a robust marketing campaign to drive traffic and conversions at their websites, there are two main strategies available: Search engine optimization and search engine marketing (also known as pay per click or PPC marketing). These two approaches have some similarities. For example, they both use keywords; they both utilize search engine results, and they both have the goal of improving a website’s performance. In fact, SEO and search engine marketing often work best when combined into a single campaign. However, in order to use SEO and PPC effectively, you also need to understand their unique differences. Here is a look both at how they differ and at how these differences can benefit your website.

 Search engine marketing tends to cost more than does search engine optimization.

Often, you will hear that PPC requires you to pay for your presence in the search results, while SEO gives you visibility for free. There is a certain amount of truth to this statement. For example, with PPC, you pay a certain amount of money every time somebody clicks on one of your ads, while with SEO, you pay nothing to the search engine, either to have your website listed in the search results or to have people click through to your site. However, there is a cost associated with search engine optimization. For example, SEO requires you to implement a campaign that incorporates high quality content, carefully researched keywords, strategic link building, and other strategies that require time, effort, and, usually, the paid assistance of SEO experts. All of this time, effort, and professional support costs money. All costs considered, however, PPC does tend to cost more than SEO. In fact, about 87 percent of all the money spent on getting websites in the search results is spent on search engine marketing, not on SEO.

SEE ALSO: 5 SEO Tasks to Prioritize

Search engine marketing tends to yield results more quickly than does search engine optimization.

The extra costs associated with search engine marketing, or PPC, however, can be well spent if they yield the results your business needs. And statistics show that PPC gets results faster than does search engine optimization. In general, it can take months to start seeing results from a search engine optimization campaign, while a search engine marketing campaign can start delivering higher traffic volume and conversions to your website in a matter of days. The reason for this difference is the manner in which each type of campaign works. Search engine optimization earns you visibility in the search results by delivering high quality content and other markers that tell search engines you have valuable material to offer regarding certain topics. It takes time to create that material, create those signals, and get them noticed by the search engines. On the other hand, search engine marketing simply pays to have your ad placed on the top of the search results page. As a result, your website shows up immediately and can instantly begin attracting traffic and conversions.

Search engine marketing also delivers a higher rate of conversions than does search engine optimization.

When it comes to these valuable conversions, search engine marketing also tends to deliver a higher rate of conversions than does SEO. Specifically, PPC ads deliver a conversion rate that is 1.5 times higher than that of search engine optimization. For every 100 visitors, this translates into 1.5 more conversions than are earned by search engine optimization. This high rate of conversion and the speed with which results are delivered make PPC a popular choice among websites.

Search engine optimization, however, earns more traffic than does search engine marketing.

While search engine optimization may deliver a slightly lower rate of conversion than does PPC, it does deliver more traffic. The amount of traffic SEO delivers depends upon how successful the campaign is. If a website, with the help of SEO experts, can run a successful SEO campaign and get their website listed on the first page of the search results, they can enjoy 8.5 times more traffic than a search engine marketing ad. The reason is usually because people trust an organic search result more than they trust a paid result and are therefore more likely to click on an organic link. Thanks to this large difference in traffic volumes, experts have estimated that SEO is 5.66 times more valuable in the long run than is PPC. This means that even with the faster results and higher conversion rate of search engine marketing, SEO will get you more results over time.

The unique advantages provided by SEO and search engine marketing, however, make them both good choices for your website.

Since search engine optimization and search engine marketing both have unique advantages, which one is the best choice for a website looking for greater visibility in the search results? The answer for many businesses is both. Consider, for instance, what you will do while you are building your search engine optimization campaign. Are you willing to go months without an uptick in traffic and conversions? Or would you rather enjoy traffic and conversions from a search engine marketing campaign now and the benefits of an SEO campaign later? In addition, search engine marketing and SEO often work best hand in hand. For example, both utilize keywords. If you run both campaigns, you can use your search engine marketing campaign (with its faster results) to test keywords in order to identify the most effective ones. You can then incorporate those findings into your SEO campaign. In addition, you can save money by focusing your SEO campaign on more expensive keywords (search terms that cost more in a search engine marketing campaign) and focus your PPC efforts on less expensive search terms. The interchangeable use of keywords is only one of the advantages to SEO and PPC working together which can expand the opportunities your website has to grow. As a result, if you want to enjoy the greatest visibility possible in the search results, consider using both search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Their differences can work together to build a solid online presence that will allow your website (and your business) to thrive.

Ruth Hawk
Writer, WEBii
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