A Beginner’s Guide to SEO and SEM in 2024

Are you trying to figure out the best way to increase your website’s visibility and drive traffic? It may be time for you to learn and understand the deeper meaning and strategies of the two most popular digital marketing methods: Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Keep reading our quick guide to SEM and SEO to see how it can help your business in 2024.

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing, also known as SEM, is an umbrella term which describes the process of increasing visibility and ranking in organic search results (unpaid listings that appear on a search engine results page) or paid search results (appears at the top or bottom of a search engine results page, labelled as an advertisement). Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a type of SEM approach.

Let’s talk about SEO

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, specifically deals with organic (or unpaid) search engine results to ensure your website appears high on a list of results returned by a search engine, which drives web traffic.

For instance, according to data from firstpage.com, a search engine’s first rank (first result on a page) generates a typical click-through rate (the action of following a hyperlink to a particular website) of 39.8%, which is more than double for the second rank, which receives a clickthrough rate of 18.7%, and nearly four times for the clickthrough rank of the third rank, which is 10.2%.

Colourful text that says SEO with the O stylized as a search magnifier icon

Did you know that Google is the world’s most popular search engine, with over 85% of the search market share, and capturing nearly 95% of mobile traffic? This is why in most cases, SEO is associated with the Google Search Engine to reach and direct the target audience to your website.

Other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo are less popular platforms, accumulating nearly 4.5% of the market share, but might still be of benefit to use depending on your business and specific audience. Generally speaking, however, Google’s large traffic potential makes it a very practical option to capture an audience from organic or paid search.

There are four main types of search engine optimization methods:

  • On-page SEO: Everything that your website visitors can see relating to content, URLs, title tags, images, and meta descriptions with relevant keywords.
  • Off-page SEO: Optimization techniques performed outside of a website (e.g. backlinks from other websites) to improve a business’s reputation and increase visibility.
  • Local SEO: A strategy to optimise your business in local search results (people who are physically located near the business) by tailoring your content to your community by using geographical keywords like city names.
  • Technical SEO: Ensuring search engines can find, crawl, and index your content to optimise website functionality, which includes making sure you are:
    • Optimising website speed
    • Fixing broken links
    • Ensuring the readiness of structured data and XML sitemaps

Keyword Research within SEO

Purple backdrop, with text describing the steps of keyword research: 1. Find with a search bar image, 2. Analyze with a computer image, and 3. Use with a tab image

Image Source

To effectively optimise SEO, the first step is conducting keyword research. It is important to note that keyword research should take the following factors into account:

  • Search intent: depending on what your user is using a search engine for (looking for information? looking to buy?) their search intents would require a different piece of content.
  • Keyword search volume: how many searches does your chosen keyword get per month- is it popular? Relying on keywords that are popular may increase your traffic but may also create more competition as search engines generate results.
  • Keyword difficulty: look at the other search results to figure how hard it would be for your page to rank. Do other websites have many external links, a high domain authority score, and extensive content on a similar topic? In this case, it might be best to opt for an alternative keyword.
  • Relevant content: try to match the most frequent type of content a search engine displays for each search term. Is it mostly product pages or blog posts? Keeping search results consistent can drive traffic to your website.

There are a variety of tools online to get you started. We recommend trying these tools as a way to get a head start on your SEM and SEO keyword research:

Key Takeaways of a Beginner’s Guide to SEO and SEM in 2024

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) uses both SEO (organic search) and paid search (using PPC).
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) uses organic search methods.
  • Both SEO and SEM
    • Improve the visibility of your website to rank higher in the search engine results pages
    • Usually associated with Google Search Engine
    • Drives a higher amount of targeted web traffic to a site
    • Uses keyword research

Are you looking for some support in your business’ SEM and SEO efforts?

At Tiny Planet Digital, we provide comprehensive services for a variety of businesses, and with our team of experts, we are specifically positioned to service businesses at early stages of development. If you need help with leveraging your digital marketing for growth, take the first step by connecting with our team.

In the meantime, check out our other blogs!