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To SEO or SEM? How to make sense of digital marketing

So you may have been told, heard or read that in order to get ahead with your business marketing, you need to do SEM or SEO. But you don’t really know what that means. Let us assure you, it isn’t really all that complicated or overwhelming, but like most marketing, it does require some thought, planning, and process.

SEO vs SEM How to make sense of digital marketing

Just to take you back 10 years or so, “traditional” marketing is what we all used to do such as advertising in magazines and newspapers, and on radio and TV, and billboards. Back then we were probably creating direct mail campaigns that were delivered via letterboxes (such as leaflets and letters to the homeowner). This form of marketing stills suits some businesses and industries, but because most businesses now have web sites, and most customers have smart phones and other devices, almost all of our communications is online. People are hardly watching free to air TV anymore as streaming takes over, so who’s seeing those TV adverts?!

“Digital” marketing is now what most businesses do. This can be any of a variety of online marketing tactics to communicate with a target audience – email, social media postings and advertising, videos and mini-videos (eg TikTok), web-based advertising, text messages, multi-media messages, multi-channel campaigns.

Some digital marketing can be quite easily done in-house with simple planning to ensure frequency and consistency. If your business has a list of customers’ emails, then you have a marketing list to send an email newsletter to. Ask how Ascend 7 can help you set up an email newsletter template. If your business has a business account on any of the social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Houzz, Pinterest, TikTok) then you can be uploading regular posts to your accounts to generate more followers and engagement.  Ask how Ascend 7 can help you set up social media accounts, or to provide content, images, video for your posts.

But if you are seeking information about what is happening on your website (how many visitors, from where, looking at what?), then you may need assistance with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) analytics for your site. Or if you need to specifically target a particular audience based on age, gender, location, occupation, or even interests, then you may need Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

So let’s do a quick break down of what these are.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Basically, this is relating to the success of your website in search engine results. In other words, how easily can a potential customer find your website and your fabulous solutions when searching through Google (or Bing or Duck Duck Go). This is referred to as “organic searching”.

Search engines “crawl” through the content of websites to rate how effective each site will be to visitors. The search engines have algorithms to assess a site’s keywords, tags. link titles, image titles and other things, and they then rank the website. So when a person types a word or phrase into one of the search engines, it will display the better ranked websites in the first few positions and on the first page. Your business will benefit the most by being highly ranked (preferably on the first page) for the phrases specifically related to your brand, product/service offering, or unique selling point.

The search engine algorithms are mysteries wrapped up in enigmas  – no-one knows the secret formula to getting your website ranked in the higher positions, other than it takes time and little bit of finessing. However, we do know what search engines look for in each website they crawl:

  • Quality of content (good use of keyword/phrases that are relevant to the product/service offering)

  • Level of user engagement (good navigation, provides a good user experience – no technical errors)

  • Mobile friendliness (if it works well on a desk top, does it also work well on a device?)

  • Number and quality of inbound links (does the site backlink to other authority sites?)

  • Technical setup (URL structure, loading time, broken links, alt text on images)

Ascend 7 uses a number of tools and techniques to optimise websites, and we provide a range of optimisation services suited to your budget, level of expertise, and outcomes. Ask us how.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

If your business needs to do specific marketing to a targeted audience, then Search Engine Marketing can be very effective. This can involve various types of paid advertising based around the keywords and phrases suited to your business offering. The most common is pay-per-click via Google Ads. A Google ad usually displays as the top 1-3 positions on a search result page. It is a good activity to use for brand recognition and to generate enquiries and traffic to your website from your desired potential customers. But because you are creating an advertisement with very specific keywords, you do need to closely consider the correct audience, the right targeted keywords/phrases, your budget, and clearly define some KPIs for the campaign.

Another cost-per-click advertising method is via the social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, where you can “boost” an advertisement to a very specific target audience, based on the profile details and interests of the platform users.

One last type of search engine marketing that may be of interest to you is local SEO marketing. This involves providing localized content and local links in order to generate a proximity factor for your business’s location(s). This is very relevant for fast food and retail shopping businesses wanting to attract people who are currently close to their outlet.

Ascend 7 can provide you with assistance to start Search Engine Marketing for your business today. Ask us how.