SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, or natural search results on search engines (Rose, 2021).
Search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, gather information. They use powerful tools to search through all websites, determining whether or not the content is relevant to their users. A goal you want when building your website is to rank high in search engine results. Search engine optimization consists of producing fresh and relevant content that results in Google ranking you higher than your competitors. Simply put, content equals authority. Valuable organic content establishes you as an expert in your field. When you are the authority in your field, search engines drive traffic to your site for free. This is what is called organic results.
Before you search, web crawlers gather information from across hundreds of billions of webpages and organize it in the Search index (Google, 2021).
Here is how Google describes how it gathers information from websites:
Google uses software known as web crawlers to discover publicly available webpages. Crawlers look at webpages and follow links on those pages, much like you would if you were browsing content on the web. They go from link to link and bring data about those webpages back to Google’s servers They take note of key signals — from keywords to website freshness — and keep track of it all in the Search index (Google, 2021).
SEM stands for search engine marketing. It is the process of using paid advertising to give your site higher rankings in search engine result pages (SERPs) and increased visibility (Rende, 2021).
With the use of organic content, SEO provides an opportunity to get ranked at the top of the Google search page. Alternatively, SEM offers a paid option to jump to the top of the Google search page, ahead of all other competitors. With SEM, you don’t have to wait for Google to take notice of your site. SEM increases traffic to your site immediately, while SEM takes months to gain traction. Keep in mind, all SEM listings are identified as paid ads, which can be perceived differently than organic content. While organic content can establish you as a trusted expert in your field, paid advertising can lead to distrust.
Including both SEO & SEM in your marketing plan is the best way to ensure short-term and long-term results. Both provide traffic to your site and analytics that will guide your future strategies and content. Each can be tailored to an available budget, regardless of the size of your firm. For more on the subject, take a look at this article by HubSpot. https://blog.hubspot.com/insiders/seo-sem-faqs
Rose, Charlie. (Jan 2021). SEO 101: How Long Does SEO Take to Start Working? SEO Mechanic. https://www.seomechanic.com/seo-101-how-long-does-seo-take/
Google. (2021). How Search organizes information. https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/crawling-indexing/
Rende, Nicole. (2021). SEM: Tips, Benefits, & How It Relates to SEO. https://blog.hubspot.com/insiders/seo-sem-faqs