What’s The Difference Between SEM, SEO, & PPC?
If you’re quite new in the digital marketing space, chances are, you have read or heard about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and might have some questions on your mind.
Both of those practices are ways to market your business online through search engines. In short, both will fall under Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
But to simplify each for now, PPC focuses heavily on the paid methods of driving traffic while SEO relies on organic and doing processes to improve your website to driving traffic.
If these details are still blurry to you, then don’t worry, we’ll be discussing the differences in this article. Let’s get started!
What is SEO?
Like mentioned above, Search Engine Optimization is SEO which means we are optimizing our website in terms of the images, contents, and load speed not just for search engines but for humans as well.
And it involves the following steps:
- Keyword research – Find the keywords that people are searching for
- On-page SEO – Create content for humans or searchers
- Off-page SEO – Building your authority and trust as well outside of your website
- Technical SEO – Ensuring that your website is search engine friendly which means it can be crawled and indexed
What is PPC?
PPC (pay-per-click), now this is a form of advertising where you as an advertiser are paying for website visits and clicks from popular advertising platforms such as Google Ads or Microsoft Ads.
And here are some of the stuff that involves PPC, in Google Ads at least:
- Keyword research – Both PPC and SEO involves this important task
- Campaign Budget & Bids – Decide how much you’re willing to spend on a daily or monthly basis and how much bid you’re willing to spend per click as well
- Ad creation & Automation – Create ads in text, image, and video format. You can also automate when it’s going to run and stop showing up
- Audience targeting & Retargeting – You can choose your demographic target and even retarget users based on the criteria you set
What is SEM?
As mentioned above, the goal of both PPC and SEO is to drive traffic from search engines. Their difference is PPC is where money is involved to drive traffic while in SEO, organic traffic is involved to drive traffic.
So in short, in SEM, you do PPC or SEO or if you have the manpower or the patience, both.
That Said, Should You Use SEO Or PPC?
Now that you know the difference between those terms, for sure your next question is: Which should I be using for my business?
In a perfect world, it should be both. But if you don’t have the capacity to do both at the same time, then choose what you think that suits best for your business.
But here are the stuff you should consider first:
What Are Your Goals and Do You Have the Budget?
If you have the budget and wanted quick traffic and exposure, especially if you’re running an offer or introducing a new product then PPC is the way to go.
On the other hand, if you don’t have the budget but have lots of patience and you wanted to grow your website’s traffic organically then SEO is the best option for you.
As mentioned, PPC costs money, hence called Pay-Per-Click. And it also depends on your niche if the clicks are going to be cheap or not.
If you don’t have enough budget to invest in your campaigns, chances are it’s not going to work the way you wanted it to and you’re just going to waste ad spend.
Assess Your Website’s Current Performance
If you’re already ranking for your organic keywords and receiving a lot of organic traffic as well, then you better settle with SEO. You just need to constantly be on the lookout for Google’s algorithm updates.
If you’re not getting a lot of organic traffic and decide to opt for PPC, make sure that your website is properly optimized for PPC, it will not magically improve your website’s performance. Optimizing your website first is a must before you start spending with PPC.
Just because you’re spending a ton of money on PPC, doesn’t always mean it will lead to traffic and conversions. A properly optimized website is still recommended.