As of April 2020, there are 1,246,121,153 websites on the internet (according to Netcraft’s April 2020 Web Server Survey). WordPress blogs alone grow by 70,000,000 posts every month. Google users make 3,500,000,000 searches every day.
What is SEO? SEO is what your blog post about fishing tackle for fast-moving water needs to be heard, and for it to convert casual interest into loyal customers.
SEO — Search Engine Optimization
Someone looking for information about fly fishing tackle for fast-moving water is likely to type or speak some of those terms into a search engine. Roughly 84% of searches are done through a single search engine — Google. Just how Google sifts through the 1.25 billion websites online to find information about fishing tackle is a massive topic.
Safe to say that the search is conducted according to Google’s algorithms (formulae or processes for solving problems). Those algorithms determine what sites float to the top of a list of search results. Whether a searcher is on their phone, tablet, or desktop, they may see a few or several results, plus more on additional pages. Search results at or near the top of that will get the most traffic. Landing near the top of search results is the ultimate goal of SEO.
SEO is the process of Optimizing web content for Search Engines. That process involves several steps, including: understanding what is important or attractive to search engines’ algorithms; placing that key information (key words or phrases for example) in the right locations, formats, and combinations to satisfy the algorithm; and bolstering the credibility and value of your information by associating it with other credible information online.
There is quite a bit of overlap between SEO and SEM, but one key difference. SEO happens on-the-page of your content, i.e. right in your WordPress blog. SEM is less about on-the-page and more about what happens off-the-page to promote your content.
SEM — Search Engine Marketing
A well-optimized blogger looking for people to buy fly fishing tackle does not have to be left at the mercy of Google’s algorithms without support. Search Engine Marketing is the process through which businesses — fly fishing tackle manufacturers, for example — market themselves online by buying advertisements that appear alongside certain search results on Google marketing. You’ll see those referred to as SERPs (search engine results pages).
Essentially, advertisers bid on ideal keywords that a fisherman might type or speak into a search bar and, if they bid successfully, their advertisements for related items or services will appear alongside the search results.
The ads that a searcher might see can be simple text-based ads or product-based ads filled with visuals and consumer information intended to drive the searcher to make a purchase. The goal of every one of those ads? Simple: to win the click.
SEM is a uniquely powerful tool in that it allows an advertiser to put content right in front of searchers that matches their existing interest. After all, they’ve already typed or spoken the magic search terms.
Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are related tools. Together, they ensure that well-prepared content reaches the top of search results, and makes it possible for motivated searchers to become satisfied customers quickly.