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Once one realizes that SEM and SEO are not the same thing, and that the former is a broader category including the latter, then more questions arise: what, then, is the point of SEO? If there are other strategies, why shouldn’t we just use them? Is SEO necessary for successful SEM?
The answer, folks, is a resounding YES! SEM that includes SEO is the only path to success. Plain and simple. To flesh this out, we’ll look at some of the other strategies included in SEM and then weigh the pros and cons of not incorporating SEO.
Paid Inclusion, Pay-Per-Click, Paid Advertisements
One of the quickest ways to increase visibility and boost traffic is to use one of these three strategies. Each one is basically catering to the search engine by paying them to show your website.
Here’s how it works. The first strategy, paid inclusion, is when you pay the search engine to list your website. For some search engines this is the only way to get listed. Others simply present it as an option, hoping that you’ll pay them instead of using other strategies.
The second and third, Pay-Per-Click and Paid Advertisements, are similar. Both entail paying for an advertisement of your website and both immediately send out information about your company on the search engines. The first works with keywords; the price is figured by number of visits to a site through each link (i.e. pay per click) and the popularity of your chosen keywords. The second type of advertisement is more traditional, posting information about a website or a company and then figuring the cost by number of ads, successful or not.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Other SEM Strategies
The advantages and benefits of these strategies are in their immediacy. Immediately they bring attention to the website. There’s no waiting. The ads are posted. The website is listed. Once you pay, it’s done. Your visibility is increased and your traffic is boosted.
But then what happens? What happens if people visit your website and there’s nothing there of interest or help? What if you don’t even have a fully functional website yet, but have all the tools for traffic to come? The disadvantages then to these strategies are in the long term. They’re built for speed, not for sustainability. Thus, they need something else.
Advantages of SEO
They need SEO. SEO should always be the first tool used when working with SEM, and here’s why. SEO’s function is to make sure your website is both search engine and user friendly. It provides content to your site that’s both relevant and relatable, informative and important. It’s what searchers are really looking for. They might come to your site because of a Paid Advertisement, but they will stay because of SEO.
Ultimately, you might find that SEO will suffice on its own, without the other tools. But for now, my advice is that it must come first. SEM and SEO is the only path to a long-term success.