Web search is one of the most powerful tools we have today. Just like you, people from all walks of life use Google to find solutions, learn new things and understand the world around. One of those new things may be determining whether SEO vs SEM is best for your business. Whether you’re an online business or a local business, chances are that people are actively looking for you.
Search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns generate organic traffic. The goal of SEO is to improve website ranking for relevant keywords. You want your website to show up on the first page of organic search results – ‘organic’ refers to the middle section of results you see in search engines – for what you’re selling, and you’d probably be considered super human if you did that without organic SEO.
Keyword research and analysis involves three "steps": ensuring the site can be indexed in the search engines, finding the most relevant and popular keywords for the site and its products, and using those keywords on the site in a way that will generate and convert traffic. A follow-on effect of keyword analysis and research is the search perception impact.[13] Search perception impact describes the identified impact of a brand's search results on consumer perception, including title and meta tags, site indexing, and keyword focus. As online searching is often the first step for potential consumers/customers, the search perception impact shapes the brand impression for each individual.

Social Media Marketing (SMM): Focuses on branding, reputation enhancement and enhanced customer service via social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Smaller SMM channels include Digg, Delicious, Wikipedia, StumbleUpon and MySpace. Social networks are visited by a collective total of over one-billion people. Thus, even the simplest marketing efforts, like paid advertising, reach potentially large audiences.
However, you can use paid campaigns to reinforce core messages that you’ve shared via organic posts. For example, if the company has been involved in a public crisis (think Volkswagen and the emissions crisis), then information you’ve provided to people who have contacted you can be used as part of a wider educational marketing program with paid ads to extend the message reach.
Novelty wears off. Even if people aren’t getting sick of your ads, your product itself will become less revolutionary over time. When Casper launched, a direct-to-customer mattress-in-a-box company was a hot new take on the traditional sleep industry. Now there are so many competitors that the idea of a mattress showing up at your door in a box just isn’t as exciting.
This is one of the more apparent benefits of organic search traffic. If your website ranks for a relevant keyword, you’ll enjoy regular targeted traffic. This consistent flow of traffic will open the floodgates for new leads and customers. That alone is a sweet deal. But here’s the thing about an organic audience: You have no choice but to create a rich content experience.
That means it takes time, but the results are long-lasting. Once you establish search engine visibility, it will serve your business for years after it’s implemented. That’s not to say that there isn’t any maintenance involved in an organic traffic strategy. The SEO landscape is ever changing. You can’t just “set and forget” your traffic system. The algorithms and ranking factors evolve. You have to keep on top of these changes to maximize your results. With all that said, an organic traffic strategy is as close as you’ll get to a traffic system on autopilot. And just another reason why organic traffic is important.
For example, we have seen retailers who produce seasonal items, such as ornaments, based upon data that they are able to find through the Data Cube. This information tells them about the themes and ideas that are popular throughout the year and during their peak selling seasons, helping them to know which items will be the most successful and the optimal names to select.
Paid marketing, on the other hand, allows business to target, reach, engage, and convert their audiences quickly and directly. Instead of waiting – or hoping – for someone to find your blog post in organic search or on social, paid marketing has you “pushing” content – mainly in the form of ads – directly to your target audiences. As such, it’s much more sales-forward and focused on driving specific actions, like making a purchase or attending a webinar. Here’s an example of this in action:
Unless you have an invite, you can’t comment or submit a new product to PH. Even then, if you were to submit yourself, the likelihood is that you’d miss out on a lot of traction compared to someone influential on PH submitting. You only get one chance to submit to Product Hunt so you’ll need to identify someone who would be interested in your startup that also has influence within the PH community. To do this, go to Twitter and search the following query in the search bar:
In order to quickly identify the correct content and websites that will meet their needs almost all users will use a search engine such as Google. Typing a query into a search engine will generate a set of results that are a combination of paid and organic search listings. The user can then choose the most relevant link from these results or search again if the results are not helpful.
While inbound links are important, backlinks are just as important, but a little more difficult to acquire. We already went over how backlinks are important for building your domain authority, but the process to acquiring them can cost you hundreds. If you don’t have a budget for backlinks, try building relationships with other relevant quality websites that will link to your webpage.
As pointed out, they are certainly not the same, but it might not be a bad idea to track and report on the direct traffic. If there has been outreach done and the company is mentioned in print with a URL, direct traffic (along with some search traffic on the URL or business name itself) is likely to go up. If your email newsletters are not tagged, they're likely to show up under direct traffic. Depending on your role, some of what you do under the greater SEO/inbound marketing role can show up under the direct traffic.
Of course, there is a lot more that needs to be considered but this is a simple example of how all of these things work together. I would recommend having no less than one page for each step of the organic marketing plan if you are a small business. The larger your business the more planning that you should do. If you do not think through all the details you will miss something that will cost you.

That said, ground-up marketing works because it’s work. There’s no substitute for careful attention to your website’s content and careful curation of your business’s social media presence. Paid ads can be an effective tool within a high-budget marketing strategy, but if the consumer arrives at your website and doesn’t find what they’re looking for, how is that investment working for you? It’s not. If a sponsored tweet draws them in but a discrepancy in expectation chases them away, what’s the benefit there? It’s absent. Organic marketing is a long process, but ultimately it will yield more authentic customer engagement and more accurate SEO.

It takes skill to drive and convert traffic. If you do it yourself, it takes a significant time investment. If you outsource it, it takes a considerable monetary investment. Either way, you need resources. And you’re doing all this in a highly competitive space. Driving organic traffic is no longer just about deploying keywords. SEO is a lot more nuanced and complex than just targeting keywords. You have to consider different keyword types, the search intent of the user and the stage of awareness of your prospects. It takes time to see results.


That’s a massive problem. And it’s one that organic search traffic solves. If you want to correlate your marketing efforts with a solid ROI, pay particular attention to where your customers are coming from. If you know where they’re coming from, you can calculate what you invest in each marketing channel, and what return it yields for your business. Some people believe that PPC is better for calculating ROI because it’s more measurable. That’s misguided. You CAN determine what an organic visit is worth to your business in terms of a hard dollar value.
Audience insight.  The better you know your customers’ pain points, the more tailored your offers will be. The more you’re connected with how they feel, the more succinct and impactful your messaging will be. I can’t think of one aspect of marketing that isn’t strengthened by that depth of audience research.What does organic traffic have to do with it?  When you dissect your traffic, here’s what happens.
This is a crucial area. If you do not have schema markup and rel="author", you are costing your business money. It is as simple as that. As an example, say I want to make spaghetti (pasta) for dinner I search for “Spaghetti Recipe” and instantly I see some great markup in play, but one competitor has no markup and no rel="author" they are losing business in my eyes. Wouldn't you agree?.
The most common form of organic SEM is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO refers to a variety of techniques designed to help your website rank higher in search engine results. Optimizing your website involves doing a little bit of research on what keywords or phrases your customers or potential customers are searching for when they are looking for your products or services online. It then involves writing web content using those keywords in a way that is both easy for search engines to pick up but still readable and pleasant for your website visitors.

There are many reasons explaining why advertisers choose the SEM strategy. First, creating a SEM account is easy and can build traffic quickly based on the degree of competition. The shopper who uses the search engine to find information tends to trust and focus on the links showed in the results pages. However, a large number of online sellers do not buy search engine optimization to obtain higher ranking lists of search results, but prefer paid links. A growing number of online publishers are allowing search engines such as Google to crawl content on their pages and place relevant ads on it.[16] From an online seller's point of view, this is an extension of the payment settlement and an additional incentive to invest in paid advertising projects. Therefore, it is virtually impossible for advertisers with limited budgets to maintain the highest rankings in the increasingly competitive search market.

Organic traffic, on the other hand, are those visits which are tracked by another entity — usually because they have arrived through search engines — but also from other sources. Hubspot’s definition emphasizes the term “non-paid visits,” because paid search ads are considered a category of their own. But this is where the lines between direct and organic start to get little blurry.

Guest blogging purely for inbound links is a flawed strategy because the value of those links are going down. However, guest blogging for traffic is still an incredibly viable strategy. While that inbound link you get at the end of a guest post doesn’t have as much SEO value as it used to, it still has the value of exposing your content to a new audience.
At the end of the day, webmasters just need to know their sites: chances are your analytics tool is more like a person than a software package, and will classify traffic in irrational ways. I’ve stumbled across website traffic originating from diverse and confusing sources being classed as direct — often requiring a considerable amount of thought and exploration to work out what is happening.
In 2014, Cisco stated that video made 64% of all internet traffic. In 2015, Searchmetrics was releasing a white paper quoting that 55% of all keyword searches in the U.S. return at least one video blended into Google’s web search results and that 8 out 10 of those videos belonged to YouTube. And in 2016, Cisco was also sharing that online videos will account for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020.
When used correctly, PPC can be highly efficient. Since you only pay when people click and you can target people looking for specific terms, it can be an excellent means of bringing people to your site. Even more importantly, PPC ads have been shown in some studies to even boost visibility and clicks, particularly if your organic result starts to slip further down the page. This can help improve brand reach and maintain a strong reputation.
BrightEdge is the only technology that allows marketers to get an accurate understanding of how organic search rankings are tied to business value. It allows customers to track actual placement among all types of search results. BrightEdge users can switch data and reports between blended and classic rank results to gain more visibility and insight into the effects of local, images, videos, and more. You can also see how your content is performing across device types, like mobile, and in different regions within the same country. The image below from BrightEdge StoryBuilder shows Classic Rank in blue and significantly different rank for Blended or Universal results, which include universal rank types such as quick answers, images, videos, and shopping.

The Methods and Tactics: You know that a lot of your clients look for idea online. So you determine to reach people where they are. You will show them all the amazing and creative things they can make with what you sell. You also want to reach people in all steps of the project and buying cycle. This means that you will want to have content for the project conception, idea gathering, planning, purchasing, and creating.
You may be wondering, why pay to show up in search engines and have people click on your website pages? Can’t you just improve your website’s SEO and get online visibility and organic clicks for free? The answer is that organic search isn’t actually free. SEO strategies are very beneficial to your business, but SEO takes time to take effect, (up to 6 months) and the tactics involve a lot of work toward producing quality content. With SEM/pay-per-click advertising, you see results right away, in the form of your business name on page one of a search.

Some search engines have also reached out to the SEO industry, and are frequent sponsors and guests at SEO conferences, webchats, and seminars. Major search engines provide information and guidelines to help with website optimization.[18][19] Google has a Sitemaps program to help webmasters learn if Google is having any problems indexing their website and also provides data on Google traffic to the website.[20] Bing Webmaster Tools provides a way for webmasters to submit a sitemap and web feeds, allows users to determine the "crawl rate", and track the web pages index status.
The  HTML tag is meant to be a concise explanation of a web page’s content. Google displays your meta description beneath the page title in their organic results. While meta descriptions aren’t as important as page titles in your Google ranking, they do play a big role in getting clicks from users. People read descriptions as a preview of your page and use it to determine if your content is worth visiting. You should keep your meta descriptions to under 150 characters since Google won’t display text beyond that. You should also include target keywords in your text, since any words matching a user’s search query will be displayed in bold.

Immediate results. Businesses want instant gratification, and that’s completely understandable. While there are no long term benefits to PPC, you will see immediate results – as soon as your ads are approved, they will begin to appear in search engine results. As long as you set up your ad campaign correctly, you can have traffic flowing to your website that same day.
I agree with the point that a small or medium-sized business will have limits for budget and resources in generating brand search, but I wouldn't say that stops them from potentially producing huge growth there if they do something interesting/innovative etc. I can think of quite a few small to medium sized brands that have more name recognition than larger companies in their space. The challenge is that many of those brands are led by people who are very good at generating marketing and publicity - it's harder for small brands to be able to afford to pay for a top level consultant or agency.
I'm having a problem that I suspect many marketers share. Quite simply … SEO or just buy the traffic. I noticed that you switched to SEO because you like the passive income component. But when I consider ALL the work and ongoing moving parts to SEO .. visions of the hamster on a treadmill appear in place of couch potato cash. Have you noticed that there is always something new to do … now it's Google+ ect. and "more to do" is surly on it's way. It's reached the point where it's mind numbing.
You may be wondering, why pay to show up in search engines and have people click on your website pages? Can’t you just improve your website’s SEO and get online visibility and organic clicks for free? The answer is that organic search isn’t actually free. SEO strategies are very beneficial to your business, but SEO takes time to take effect, (up to 6 months) and the tactics involve a lot of work toward producing quality content. With SEM/pay-per-click advertising, you see results right away, in the form of your business name on page one of a search.
It means that every piece of content that leads searchers to you is extending your brand equity. Not only that, you’re creating multiple touch points, so potential customers have every opportunity to discover your business. It takes on average of 6-8 touch points with a brand before someone becomes “sales-ready.” Too many? Well, for some industries, it’s way more. One woman’s car-buying journey took 900 digital touch points spanning three months.
Since there is an obvious barrier of entry for anyone trying to beat you once you’re established, you won’t have to worry about having competitors “buying” their way to the top. Their only option is pay per click ads, but then again, it isn’t the same as getting a higher position on the SERPs. Again, this is assuming that you took the right steps and were patient enough to solidify your place in the top search results. 
More eyes on your website are all well and good, but if you can’t get them to interact, you lose. Engagement is what’s going to facilitate the conversion that you want. When users become invested in your content, they keep coming back, and they become the fuel for your sales funnels. So what is a “rich content experience?” Here’s what I recommend. Be intentional.  Most people pump out content because they heard it’s the right thing to do. No rhyme. No reason. That’s a mistake. Every piece of content should serve a goal.
Hi Lynn, WOW another well written and informative post. I only use PPC to make sure my copy converts, otherwise I use organic traffic only. I have printed off this post and will have by my computer, as another tool to read everyday to make sure I am keeping on track. You are 1 of 3 people I keep subscribed to, because you help, you keep me motivated, you tell it like it is. You give great content, which is a lesson for us all to remember, it is OK to drive traffic to your site, but if you do not have what the seeker wants, then they leave, giving you a horrendous bounce rate and no conversions.
However, while bidding $1,000 on every keyword and ranking #1 for every relevant search sounds nice in theory, most businesses have to play a balancing game between ranking higher and paying too much for clicks. After all, if it costs $17.56 to rank in position #1, but you can only afford to pay $5.00 per click, bidding $1,000 on a keyword to guarantee yourself the #1 position would be a great way to bid yourself out of business.
Make your content longer. Despite video marketing's rise seeming to point to consumers' desire for shorter content, that implication couldn’t be further from the truth. Google wants content that’s longer and more detailed. Studies have shown that this is what ranks higher in the search engines. Don’t artificially inflate your word count, though. You should hone in on topics that naturally require more words to write about.
Keyword difficulty is a number that lets you know how difficult it will be to rank for a certain keyword. The higher the number, the more difficult it will be to rank on that keyword. There are a few sites online that will tell you keyword difficulty of a word or phrase. Record these numbers in your Excel document or Google Sheet that you made earlier.

Having large groups of content that all revolve around the same topic will build more relevance around keywords that you're trying to rank for within these topics, and it makes it much easier for Google to associate your content with specific topics. Not only that, but it makes it much easier to interlink between your content, pushing more internal links through your website.

Look at your short- and long-term goals to choose whether to focus on organic or paid search (or both). It takes time to improve your organic search rankings, but you can launch a paid search campaign tomorrow. However, there are other considerations: the amount of traffic you need, your budget, and your marketing objectives. Once you’ve reviewed the pros and cons, you can select the search strategy that’s right for you.


It’s not going to run up your grocery bill. In fact, investing time and energy in developing an organic marketing strategy is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure the long-term success of your business’s digital presence. I’ve helped businesses design and run organic marketing campaigns for years. It’s one of the most effective ways to build an authentic audience and fan base for your product or service. It takes more time, consistency and patience to pull off, but it’s worth the extra effort.

Before you dig into some of the more technical ways to improve SEO ranking, always remember that writing compelling, high-quality content that attracts interest and compels visitors to share it and link back to it is vital. Good content has the best chance of being viral content, and Google rewards content virality heavily in its rankings algorithm.


Incidentally, according to a June 2013 study by Chitika, 9 out of 10 searchers don't go beyond Google's first page of organic search results, a claim often cited by the search engine optimization (SEO) industry to justify optimizing websites for organic search. Organic SEO describes the use of certain strategies or tools to elevate a website's content in the "free" search results.
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