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  • The difference between SEO and SEM is simple.

  • SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the practice of optimizing content to be discovered through

  • a search engine's organic results.

  • And SEM or Search Engine Marketing, is traditionally SEO plus Pay-per-click advertising,

  • but some people just look at it as PPC today.

  • Now, you might be thinking that SEO is the way to go

  • since organic traffic is free, consistent, and passive.

  • But it'd be short-sighted to think that it's the only way to grow your business through search.

  • So today, we're going to be talking about some search engine marketing strategies and when

  • and where you should be using SEO, PPC, or both.

  • Stay tuned.

  • [music]

  • What's up SEOs?

  • Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that helps you grow your search traffic, research

  • your competitors and dominate your niche.

  • Search engines are in my opinion, the best traffic source.

  • In fact, around 5 billion searches happen on Google every single day.

  • It's also been reported that search engines drive 10 times more traffic to shopping sites

  • than social media.

  • And for you local business owners, 72% of consumers who did a local search

  • visited a store within 5 miles.

  • Now, to explain why SEO and PPC are both important, let's play a game of "would you rather."

  • Would you rather be able to instantly rank #1 for any keyword

  • or have an unlimited PPC budget to pay for ads?

  • Why SEO of course

  • [audience cheering]

  • Naw bruh. PPC.

  • [audience cheering]

  • Now, I certainly don't have an answer to this, but let's unpack both sides.

  • From a pure SEO perspective, you need to remember that search engines are businesses.

  • They need to make money in order to operate.

  • As a result, most, if not all platforms will give premium placements to paying customers.

  • For example, commercial keywords like "insurance," have a ton of value and therefore, a ton of competition,

  • so the entire fold is pretty much covered in ads, making organic results near invisible.

  • So assuming you ranked organically for this keyword,

  • a searcher would have to scroll down for a while

  • before even entertaining the thought of going to your page.

  • Now, let's make a case for PPC.

  • Sure, if you had an infinite budget, you'd be ranking #1 at the top of every page, right?

  • Nope!

  • Google doesn't show Ads on every page for every search.

  • There needs to be some sort of commercial intent in order for Ads to appear.

  • For example, key in something with clear commercial intent, like "buy red sox tickets,"

  • and you'll see Ads galore.

  • Type in an informational query, like "what to do in Boston," and you won't see any Ads.

  • So if you were to opt-in for an infinite Ads budget, but no SEO, you'd be missing out

  • on a ton of opportunity to get traffic.

  • And another thing to note is that commercial keywords generally have less search volume

  • than informational ones, which would even further limit your pool of relevant traffic.

  • As you can see here in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer, the informational query gets searched nearly

  • 27X more than the commercial one.

  • So now I'm guessing that your answer to unlimited SEO traffic vs PPC traffic is probably tougher

  • than you might have initially thought.

  • But this is why we have yet another acronym, SEM, where we can combine the two strategies

  • and truly take our search engine marketing to another level.

  • Let's go through a few strategies that should give you a good idea of when and why to implement

  • SEO, PPC, or both.

  • First, try running Ads for keywords that are too competitive to rank for... at least for now.

  • There are likely keywords in your industry that you won't be able to rank for in years.

  • For example, if you were creating a brand new supplements store and you wanted to rank

  • for things like "buy protein powder," then your chances of a Top 3 ranking are slim.

  • You'd be competing against the likes of Amazon, GNC, and Walmart to name a few.

  • Now, it doesn't mean that you should abandon SEO altogether and just run ads.

  • But since ranking for competitive terms will likely be a long play,

  • PPC can help get the ball rolling immediately.

  • And there are three massive benefits to using PPC while you're working to rank your pages.

  • First, you can immediately start generating revenue since you're paying for traffic.

  • This will hopefully help get some cash flow coming in, but do note that just because you advertise,

  • it doesn't mean you'll have a positive return.

  • Oftentimes, it can take months and a lot of lost dollars to find a campaign that works for you.

  • Second, you get an opportunity to test and optimize for conversions.

  • Most ad platforms have conversion-tracking features.

  • Afterall, if publishers can see that their ad spend is returning positive ROI, they'll keep spending.

  • So use this as an opportunity to get insights on things like the average cost per conversion.

  • Run controlled tests to improve your conversion rate.

  • And as you start producing profit from your ads, scale out to other platforms.

  • And third, you can get valuable keyword data.

  • Within Google Ads, they have a report called, "Search Terms."

  • Within this report, you can see keywords that people are bidding on and see conversion numbers with them.

  • This can help you get an understanding of whether the keywords you want to target

  • will actually produce conversions.

  • As a hypothetical example, let's say that you were bidding on "protein powder," and getting

  • a ton of traffic because it's a popular query.

  • But in terms of net profit, you weren't profitable.

  • Within the Search Terms report, you might find that a keyword like "grass fed whey protein"

  • sends a lot less traffic but converts at a much higher rate.

  • So what I recommend you do is to export the search terms report from Google Ads.

  • Then use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer, where you can paste up to

  • 10,000 keywords at once and get all their metrics.

  • Now, I don't have an Ads campaign on protein powder, but to illustrate my point,

  • you'll see that the Keyword Difficulty score is much lower for "grass fed whey protein."

  • So it would be worth investigating and potentially creating a new page for.

  • That way you'll likely be able to get some traffic from organic search faster.

  • We have a full tutorial on keyword research where I outline a detailed step-by-step process

  • to assess ranking difficulty, so I highly recommend checking that out.

  • Now, another reason you might use both SEO and PPC is if the search results pages are covered in Ads.

  • As you already saw in the "insurance" example, competitive keywords generally have a lot of people

  • willing to pay top dollar to appear at the top.

  • And even if you're ranking #1 through SEO, the organic results are so far down

  • that they may not even get clicked.

  • Now, to put this into perspective, you'll see that on average, we've ranked in the #1 position

  • for the keyword "local business seo."

  • But if you look at our Click through rate, Search Console tells us that people only

  • click our result 0.5% of the time!

  • And if we look at the search results, you'll see that there are a bunch of ads,

  • making it look like our #1 organic result is actually #4.

  • As you can see, the majority of ads are for local SEO services, so if we had an agency

  • offering services like this, I'd definitely consider putting some money into ads to get more clicks

  • to our pages, and hopefully more customers.

  • Finally is to own as much real estate as possible.

  • And this is similar to the strategy that we've just went through, but for a different reason.

  • These days, a typical SERP will have some Ads at the top, some SERP elements like featured snippets,

  • "People also ask" boxes, and then the organic search results.

  • Now, while this might feel annoying for SEOs in particular, I want you to look at this as an opportunity

  • to rank in SERPs with monopolization in mind.

  • For example, you'll see that The Blog Starter is paying for Ads, owns the featured snippet,

  • and has the #1 ranking position.

  • And to me this makes a lot of sense for him to put his time and effort into since he's likely making

  • a lot of his money from this page.

  • At Ahrefs, we're fully committed to providing the best educational resources on SEO.

  • So you'll see that for the keyword "SEO tutorial," we own a spot in the video carousel and then

  • the #1 organic ranking position.

  • And if we decide to go the online course route,

  • I'm sure we'd put money into testing ads for various keywords.

  • Another example of us using SEM is on YouTube.

  • Last year, we made a video that's been really helpful to those who are new to SEO.

  • And since our main KPI for YouTube is engagement,

  • we advertise for that keyword and we own the #3 organic position.

  • So the way I like to look at the topic of SEO vs. PPC is not so much which one should you use.

  • It's more about looking at the differences and seeing how they complement each other to create

  • a dominant search engine marketing strategy, aka. SEM.

  • Now, if you're relatively new to SEO, I highly recommend watching some of our videos

  • which I'll link up in the description.

  • Or if you want to see us make some PPC tutorials, let me know in the comments.

  • And if you enjoyed this video, make sure to like, share and subscribe for more actionable tutorials.

  • So keep grinding away, go and dominate your industry, and I'll see you in the next tutorial.

The difference between SEO and SEM is simple.

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SEO vs. SEM: Whats the Difference and Why You Should Care

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    Lynn Chou posted on 2019/12/05
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