A Beginner’s Guide to SEO and SEM in 2023

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 Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Keep reading our quick guide to SEO and SEM to see how it can help your business.

What is SEO? What is SEM?

Both terms are used interchangeably, but they are two different things:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing web content to increase visibility and ranking in organic search results.
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the process of increasing visibility and ranking in organic and paid search results on search engine results pages (SERPs). SEM is a combination of SEO and other web marketing techniques!

Let’s talk about SEO

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

As stated, SEO optimizes and increases a website’s visibility on the search engine using organic methods. By improving your website’s position on search engine result pages, web traffic will increase. In most cases, SEO is associated with the Google Search Engine to reach and direct the target audience to your website. However, other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo are also valuable platforms, depending on your business and audience.

There are 4 main types of SEO:

  • 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 optimize 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 on the search engine to optimize website functionality.
    • Optimizing website speed
    • Fixing broken links
    • Structured data and XML sitemaps

So how is SEM different?

A graphic showing s a flow chart with SEM (search engine marketing) on top and SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per click) under the umbrella.

Search Engine Marketing is a combination of SEO and other marketing techniques. Thus, it includes both: organic search and paid search.

Organic Search (SEO)

  • The use of natural algorithms optimized using Search Engine Optimization.
  • SEO focuses on getting to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) using the natural algorithm.

Paid Search (SEM)

  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC): Advertisers only pay when a user clicks on an ad.
    • Bidding: Budget and control the amount spent using PPC.
      • It is also possible to purchase ad space on search result pages
  • Use platforms like Google Ads, YouTube Ads, Search Ads, Shopping Ads, and more, to reach your target audience.
  • If done correctly, SEM can drive almost immediate results, based on your business’s bids and strategy.

To effectively optimize SEO and SEM, the first step is conducting keyword research.

Key Takeaways of a Beginner’s Guide to SEO and SEM in 2023

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) uses organic search methods.
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) uses both SEO (organic search) and paid search (using PPC).
  • Both SEO and SEM
    • Improves the visibility of your website to rank higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
    • Drives a higher amount of targeted web traffic
    • Uses keyword research

Here are some helpful tools for SEO and SEM keyword research:

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

Take the first step towards optimizing your online presence by connecting with the Tiny Planet Digital team.

In the meantime, check out our other blogs!