SEO vs SEM: Which is better for your small business?

  • marketing strategies small business

Marketing strategies for small businesses

A crucial part of bringing online success to your small business is developing a marketing strategy that will boost brand awareness and bring customers to you. With Digital marketing methods, small companies can create plans that are adaptable to your business and your customers.

Using such methods is beneficial in many ways as you can create content that is targeted to your customers, measure your results, and make changes to improve your marketing strategies. While multiple techniques will allow you to do this, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can be beneficial strategies that will play a factor in achieving your small business goals.

Depending on the nature of your small business, it may become apparent that a specific technique is more appropriate for your objectives. A combination of both SEO and SEM could also be a more efficient way of achieving your aims.

What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

If you are new to Digital Marketing, you may not be familiar with SEO and SEM terminology, but you may have some knowledge as a consumer or online user that is attributed to these terms. Both SEO and SEM are marketing techniques based on search engines like Google.

From the consumer’s point of view, the key difference between SEO and SEM is visible within the search results page. SEM results are adverts that are placed at the top of the results page to bring initial attention to them. Whereas, SEO results are within the organic results below the ads.

search engine marketing

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation is the process of fine-tuning your digital presence to achieve a rank higher in the search engine organic results. You can begin your SEO process by creating social media accounts, list your company in online directories like Google My Business, and developing a website. However, more importantly, you should make sure that the information you present online is not only correct, but also relevant to your small business, your customers, and your aims.

Developing SEO practices includes techniques that include perfecting your online branding. As well, you should ensure that your online content is of high quality and mobile friendly. It is essential to understand that it will take time to see results in response to your SEO practices. While having an optimised online presence is always beneficial, seeing results is dependent on several factors that may take time to work in your favour.

How can SEO benefit your small business?

• Customer focussed online presence

With secure SEO practices, you can bring natural traffic to your website or online presence that you have built for your small business. Basic SEO practices are essential to ensure that your small business has a positive online exposure, as well as ensuring that your potential customers can find your business. By using SEO tools, you can further this to enable that your online strategies are both search engine and customer friendly. This results in a better online process for the customer and satisfying user experience.

search engine optimisation maps on mobile

• Useful, accessible options

As a small business owner, the SEO process encourages you to build an online presence that is both beneficial to you and useful for your customers. By optimising your website, social media outlets, or blog, you can be sure that they are strengthened and in line with your aims. SEO practices are also accessible to those who have a tighter marketing budget or own newly founded small companies. Social media sites have options to create business pages and listing in online directories is often free.

• Extended reach and insight into your customers

When your small business is present online, you can extend the reach of your marketing techniques. Whether your intended customer is local or national, good SEO practices will better the online scope of your business. From this, you can gain an understanding of who your customers are, as well as an insight into how they interact with your small business.

Use this free SEO Audit tool to check the optimisation of your brand’s digital presence:

Free SEO Audit Tool

See how optimized a specific web page, landing page, or blog post is for an exact keyword or phrase

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing differs from SEO as it is a more direct approach to advertising your small business. SEM uses paid efforts such as PPC (Pay Per Click) to bring your service to the forefront of your audience’s search. Using online paid advertising is an opportunity to heighten the visibility of your brand, resulting in an increased awareness that betters your success rate. SEM options are available on search engines such as Google or Bing, allowing you to bid on keywords that are related to your business.

Depending on the sector of your small business, the cost of keywords is varied based on the demand and popularity of the search. It may seem that SEM is not an essential marketing strategy for your small business. However, it can be fundamental in boosting conversion rates and is a method of paid advertising that provides measurable results. So, unlike printed adverts or other means of paid advertising, using the digital approach of SEM means that you can target an audience who are already searching for businesses like yours, be in the forefront of their search, and then measure your success.

How can SEM benefit your small business?

• Faster results and better search rank

By using SEM techniques, your small business is likely to see results in a timelier manner. If your small business goals are to grow at a faster pace, SEM can place you at an advantage. When compared to others in your sector that only implement SEO techniques, SEM can give you an additional boost. Your company will be accessible to those who are directly looking for services or goods that you can provide. You will appear in a favourable search position that customers are more likely to view and click on.

sem marketing on mobile phone

• Invest in the success of your small business

SEM is an investment into the growth of your small business that ensures your brand is visible in a sought-after search ranking. Like SEO, having the relevant, correct information in your adverts is still essential. However, the additional ranking boost that SEM provides is highly favourable. As well, an insight into the performance of your advert through analytics can be fundamental. With this, you can determine the gaps in your advertising strategies and highlights areas that need improvement.

Which marketing technique is better for your small business?

Both SEO and SEM are valuable marketing strategies that can bring favourable results to your small business. It is crucial to assess and understand your business’s current performance to set realistic SEO or SEM goals. You should consider which method, or combination of techniques, will help you achieve your aims.

• Personalised options for your small business

The benefits of both SEO and SEM will bring related conversion benefits and brand awareness for your small business. But, due to different processes, it should be expected that visible results will become apparent at different times. For new small businesses, SEO is an essential initial step that will build credibility by developing an online strategy. For established small businesses, SEM could be the next step to achieve your businesses goals surrounding brand growth and online conversions.

• Combine techniques for a stronger strategy

Both SEO and SEM are rather accessible, it could be beneficial to try out both methods to form the most reliable digital strategy. Utilising your options will give an insight into which approaches work well when considering your small business aims. By integrating the process and practices that are relevant to your business goals, you will gain an optimised digital presence than enables trust with essential information and increased visibility that betters your reach.

Need help building your SEO and SEM strategies?

Now you have an insight into SEO and SEM you may need help implementing your methods. To understand and make the most of your SEO and SEM strategies, working with the right agency could help you succeed.

If you have any questions, Bigfoot Digital professionals would be happy to help.
Give our friendly team a call on 01226 720 756 today to grow your small business even further.