Online Presence Basics: SEO and SEM

Home-BGYou own a business and you want to increase your online presence… But how do you do that? What is SEO? What the heck is SEM?? With so many new lead generation tools, how do you know where to start?

First things first, it is important to know what each term stands for, and the basic pros and cons for each. It all comes down to advertising efficiency; reaching the target market, and then converting that market into real dollars and cents.


SEO is Search Engine Optimization, and literally means optimizing your web content so that it is relevant and attractive to search engines based on their natural algorithms. Your are optimizing your content so that those search engines return your website towards the top of a customers’ search.

Pros of SEO:

  • Organic rankings allow for consistent traffic.
  • IF you have your content and keywords well-chosen, it is relatively easy to reach your target market, which leads to a higher conversion rate.
  • If you become proficient with SEO tactics, it is free.

Pros of SEO:

  • Time is NOT on your side
    • It can take upwards of a year to rank in the top five organic results, depending on the keywords.
    • Creating remarkable content in which you attract links from other websites, can also be time and labor intensive
  • SEO can be complicated and if you are not very computer savvy or if you don’t have a lot of spare time, you will most likely need to pay a specialist to help you.


Search Engine Marketing differs from SEO in that you pay for ad space. If your product is a purse, think of SEO as having a picture of a famous actress walking on the street, wearing your purse in a magazine. SEM is more like buying advertising space and creating an advertisement of a model wearing your purse. SEM can also be called PPC (Pay-Per-Click), but it is those ads you see at the top of the search engine when you put search for a word or term.

Pros of SEM:

  • Easily measureable, so easy to adjust your ad for maximum impact
  • You do not pay unless someone actually clicks on your site
  • Getting to the top takes a lot less time than organic optimization

Cons of SEM:

  • More ad budget is needed to make sure you have the most impactful campaign
  • Can be expensive if you are in an industry with competitive keywords.


Why choose?? These tactics for converting leads are not mutually exclusive. It is ideal to have a nice mix of both; put a little bit of time into organic SEO while at the same spending some of your ad budget to get to the top of your keyword pole! It’s also important to integrate local SEO and SEM; using the name of your city or region to increase the number of clicks you get for keywords at a discounted price.

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