SEO vs SEM for Small Businesses
Growing a small business can be a daunting task, and with so many options for marketing, it may seem impossible to decide what’s right for you and your business. Luckily with internet marketing, there’s already a lot of existing data for you to build on. If you have a website or even a Google My Business listing, then search engines already have some information about your business and potential customers. So how do you start? And should you choose SEO or SEM for your business?
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
In the most simplified terms, SEO is explaining each element of your website to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. By explaining exactly what each element is, search engines are able to give their users more relevant search results. If search engines can do that, the customer will keep using them. And considering Google’s prevalence, they’re doing a pretty decent job of giving us the content we’re searching for.
So we have to give Google what their users are looking for. And you may feel that, as a contractor or a landscaper, you don’t have the ability to create content that users want. But with over 3.5 billion searches a day on Google alone, content from your industry will always be in demand. You’ll want to create content relevant to your product or service so that when users go looking for that product and service you are placed at the top of the search results.
Here’s how it works from Google’s point of view: Someone searches “landscaping in London Ontario.” If you have content about landscaping in London, Ontario, Google will want to show that. But how do you outrank your competitors?
If a user gets to your page and the content just says “We do landscaping in London, Ontario” you’re probably not providing the user with enough relevant content. The user then leaves your page and Google notices that they’re not interested in your content and thus ranks you lower on future searches. But if the user gets to your page and finds content about landscaping in London Ontario, the process of landscaping, and a call to action that keeps them on your site, then Google will notice that users are interested in your content and rank you higher.
- Over 75% of users don’t make it past the first page of results, with the first result on the first page taking around 33% of all search traffic.
- Without SEO you might not even show up for searches relevant to your business.
- SEO has long term effects on your ranking, once your content is optimized it will stay that way for a while.
- Optimized content requires little to no maintenance to continue ranking.
What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?
SEM is the main alternative to SEO. By paying for search ads your website can be displayed above organic search results leading to more traffic. There are a number of factors that contribute to getting your ad on the front page of Google, number one being money. The average cost per click of a search network ad on Google is about $2, but it tends to be higher for competitive industries.
But why would anyone want to pay for something you could achieve through hard work with SEO? In short, the answer is time. It can take months to rank first for competitive keywords with SEO, whereas SEM can get you to the top page immediately. It is worth it to note that Google favours more relevant ads through Quality Score and does their best to avoid showing irrelevant ads. But you do have a lot more freedom with Google Ads than you do with SEO.
- Paid ads let you target more competitive keywords allowing you to appear above sites like Amazon and Wikipedia.
- Ads are pay as you go, meaning you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
- Every click builds a remarketing audience you can use to target ads for a fraction of the cost.
- With a good ad and a bit of money you can get to the top of search results immediately.
SEO vs SEM What’s Better?
In the battle of SEO vs SEM neither method is really better than the other. Maybe that’s not exactly what you wanted to hear, but there’s unfortunately not a one-size fits all answer for this question. If you’re trying to grow your business, the reality is, you probably shouldn’t skip out on either of these things. If you have to choose just one, choose one that fits in with your business goals.
— Kayla Vanstone, Smart Marketing Consultant
The point is, it all depends on your goal. If you’re not sure what you want to achieve, it’s a good idea to talk to a marketing consultant to help get your business and brand moving in the right direction. They can use that existing data about your site and will help you determine what goals you can reach and what kind of digital marketing will be the best bang for your buck. If you’re not sure what’s best for you, book a free consultation with one of our smart marketing consultants today.