Search engine marketing (SEM) and social media are at the heart of digital marketing. Both are great tools in which to generate valuable leads for your business online. However, search marketing and social media take different approaches and therefore, require different expertise to deliver them effectively and the fundamental way in how they engage with a target audience.
Search Engine Marketing
What is ‘search marketing’? We are really talking about search engine optimization (SEO) and Google Adwords (PPC). These are the two ways in which a company can get themselves in front of potential customers based on what they search for on Google, but they work in different ways.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of doing what is necessary, both on your web pages and elsewhere, to get your website visible on the first page of search results when somebody types in a search phrase, and ideally at the top of those page one results. It does not follow, however, that the more you spend on SEO, the better results you will have. Like most other areas of products and services, you need to do your research to be sure you will actually get what is being offered.
With rare exception, SEO has a much higher ROI than PPC. It has been shown time and again, for example, that the amount of time a visitor spends on your site as a result of an organic search result click is substantially longer than the time they spend on your site from clicking on a PPC ad. The reasons are various, and we will devote some time to that in subsequent posts, so stay tuned.
You are probably asking yourself, if SEO happens ‘organically’ and it’s free, then what am I paying for? Well, this leads us back to the very fundamentals of SEO. Google ranks search results based on relevance to the enquiry or search made. But the term ‘relevance’ is a completely subjective term. If someone searches for “social media agency”, are they looking for help managing social media presence for their or are they really looking for a job in the digital marketing field? Due to the dynamic and complexity nature of Google, hiring an expert to manage your search engine optimization is where a bulk of your monetary cost will be.
SEO and PPC marketing are different in practice. With Google Adwords you only have to pay out if someone actually clicks on your advert and goes through to our website. With Google Adwords (PPC) you are bidding on space that is around the organic results for that particular search term. Anyone, with any business and any website, can do this no matter the quality of their content is or how established their site is.
The point is, if do have a website that is fast loading and incorporates mobile-friendly, responsive website design, with text that is written well and with an eye to the search terms that people are actually using, ranking well in search engine results will basically yield consistent website traffic and ROI. As a general rule, if you are using both SEO and PPC strategies, when you look at your website traffic stats in Google Adwords, you should ideally see more organic traffic than paid traffic. (As with any statement like this, there are exceptions to the rule based on industry type and other factors).
Search Engine Marketing and Social Media
The real difference is that search marketing is just that, people searching for a business that provides certain services or products. Social media marketing, on the other hand, consists of using social media to identify your target audience and drive them to your website. There are major areas of cross over of course. Especially between SEO and social media. Social media has an impact on SEO search engine optimization generally and Local SEO specifically in numerous ways, from YouTube hosted videos to Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp. The list goes on. Ultimately, at the end of the day, a well-rounded, diverse social media profile leading back to your company website will yield continuing benefits.
As with many forms of marketing, you won’t know exactly which avenue will work best for you until you actually give them a try. One of the major wins is that with digital marketing, you can accurately track multiple metrics and ultimately your return on investment.
Paul Albee is the digital marketing director of ATS Design Group in Syracuse, New York. Paul and his team specialize in all aspects of online digital marketing including website design, SEO search engine optimization, social media marketing as well as print and advertising design.