What are SEO and SEM in detail

Search engine marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM), in German search engine marketing, is a discipline of online marketing. It deals with the measures that improve the visibility of a website in the search results of search engines. It is divided into search engine optimization (Search Engine Optimization - SEO) and paid advertisements in the context of search engine advertising (Search Engine Advertising - SEA).

Today, SEM is one of the central premises for success on the Internet. Marketing creates long-term competitiveness. Many companies are now aware of this. However, there is often a lack of implementation. Because the technical and, last but not least, strategic requirements are increasing and so are the aspects to be considered. The use of special SEO software can be helpful here, but is never a full substitute for real expertise!

What is the significance of SEM in online marketing?

Nowadays, as soon as they become aware of a challenge or a need, people first go looking for solutions online. The primary contact points are search engines, especially Google. In this country, up to 98 percent of mobile inquiries go to the account of the search engine leader.

Companies cannot ignore this development. You have to make sure that your own achievements end up at the top of the Google ranking with typical search entries of the target group. Search Engine Marketing has important approaches in store for this.

What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing has many characteristics. At this point, however, it is not a question of showing all the details. Rather, you get an overview of the essential properties. In order to clarify this, it must first be noted that there are two ways in a search engine ranking: the organic and the paid way.

  1. Most of the work is related to that Organic listings. Search engines like Google add websites to it almost automatically. This happens in the course of the continuous web crawling of the service provider. They are constantly scanning the network for new offers. They also evaluate search queries and calculate the quality of the hits. The organic listing does not incur any costs for website operators. Everything that is required to look good here is summarized under the term "search engine optimization" (SEO).
  2. On the other hand, there is Paid listing. The inclusion in this is - as the name already makes clear - not free of charge. Website operators can control services within the paid listing via paid advertisements. This means that they appear in the first place for matching search queries. If advertisements are not further funded, the website will not be completely out of the index. It can then still be found under the organic listings. Measures relating to paid listing are part of search engine advertising (SEA).

Example for the search term “Tasting Hamburg”: Above three paid ads (SEA), below the first organic hit (SEO).

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

SEO includes all activities that are carried out in the context of organic listing. Website operators try to improve the organic ranking of a website. There are three main characteristics: SEO is time consuming, slow, but long lasting.

  • Search engine optimization is time-consuming, as appropriate measures have to be implemented for maximum success on a strategic, content-related and technical level.
  • SEO is slow because it generally takes a long time - up to six months - for search engines to register such measures. You first have to evaluate them and then position a website in the ranking accordingly.
  • But SEO is long lasting. The improved usability, developed backlinks or the value-added content retain their value for a relatively long time - even without continuously adapting them. SEO has a long-term effect because search engines are slow to adapt their organic listing.

The best SEO tool

If you are looking for the best SEO tool to get started in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it is worth taking a look at our OMR Reviews platform. There you have the opportunity to find out more about the different software, look at user reviews and compare them.

What is search engine advertising (SEA)?

SEA includes all measures taken by search engines in the context of paid listing. Today, specific social media advertising is also often included. For example, you can also do SEM in the YouTube search.

The three salient characteristics of the SEA are: It is chargeable, fast, but does not last long.

  • SEA is never free as it is based on paid listing from search engines. Put simply, website operators pay money for SEA measures for better visibility. The main goal is to increase traffic.
  • Search advertising is fast. On the one hand, the development of a pure SEA strategy takes less time than it does for SEO measures. On the other hand, their effect is also immediately visible.
  • On the other hand, SEA is less sustainable. The service in the form of better visibility is immediately discontinued as soon as website operators no longer pay for it.

The best SEA tools

Our comparison portal OMR Reviews also offers the opportunity to compare the best SEA tools for Search Engine Advertising (SEA). You will also find all the information and real user reviews from SEA professionals there to help you find the right search engine advertising software for you.

Central components of a modern SEM strategy

In the following we have set up typical phases for you step by step up to the finished SEM strategy. The points are relevant for both SEO and SEA. However, this is not a comprehensive strategy that will lead to success in every context. You should see the listing as more of a summary that should be included in most search engine marketing considerations.

1. Develop buyer personas

Defining a target audience is important in any online marketing field. With the help of buyer personas you define typical customers. These are profiles of fictitious prospects. Among other things, they take into account problems and wishes as well as specialist knowledge, purchase barriers, media affinities and other factors. All of this should flow into your search engine marketing. This is the only way you can reach your (potential) customers. Because the SEM is of course not just about "making the search engines happy"! Messages and texts have to be adapted to the persona.

2. Perform SEM audit

The SEM audit forms the basis of the SEM strategy - everything else is based on it. The aim of the audit is to identify what is already working well and where there is potential for improvement. It also shows unused opportunities. You should take a close look at the following during the SEM audit:

  • technology: Do you offer search engines ideal conditions to easily crawl and rate your website?
  • Onpage and content: Do you provide up-to-date, easily absorbable content that is geared towards your buyer personas? Are you using the right keywords? Did you continue to use important SEO factors such as headline hierarchies, metas, etc.?
  • Usability: Is your site well structured? Do your visitors find what they're looking for intuitively?
  • Left: Do backlinks lead to your pages? How is their number and quality to be assessed - do you have toxic links? Is there a meaningful, user-friendly internal link? Are there external links and does the ratio between nofollow and dofollow links fit?
  • SEA: Is SEA already being operated - and if, where and with what success? All points have an influence on the success of search engine advertising. Here the connections can be clearly established.

3. Hold a kick-off meeting

In a kick-off meeting, bring all those responsible or those affected by the search engine marketing measures to one table. Of course, marketing always has to be taken into account. But sales and IT are also part of it.

In this meeting you collect impressions of customer profiles, technical conditions and possibilities and, last but not least, formulate department-specific goals. A general roadmap should emerge and SEM objectives should be clear. In particular, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the distribution of responsibilities for Search Engine Marketing?
  • What resources are available in the departments for SEM - are they sufficient?
  • Who has which access?
  • Do you have to go through certain approval processes?

4. Define keywords

A comprehensive keyword analysis is a fundamental part of an SEM strategy. Here it is important to know the problems or needs of your own buyer personas and compare them with their likely search behavior. The goal is not just to find out exactly the keywords that your (potential) customers are using. But also those that are used less seldom and perhaps hardly accepted by direct competition.

For keyword analysis, a close exchange with individual specialist departments, sales and customer service as well as research in forums is advantageous. Also take a look at the competition. Because this way you sometimes get hints on extremely important keywords that are not obvious. Today it is sometimes even advisable to refrain from technical terms and complex formulations. Instead, one should focus more on words that describe a problem or a wish or are part of the language of the target group.

5. Write the SEM roadmap

Now it should be clear where the strengths and weaknesses of your website are with regard to the SEM. You also know the skills of your team, what goals you are pursuing and what resources are available to take appropriate measures. All relevant points now need to be brought into an SEM roadmap.

A SEM roadmap usually acts as a priority list. But it does not have to be implemented one-to-one. The latter is because search engine marketing is dynamic. Restructuring may be necessary due to algorithm adjustments by Google or due to the implementation of new features of your competitors. You should also observe the behavior of your target group. The planned route or the intended goals should always be in focus.

A major advantage of the roadmap is that it is an ideal tool for (cross-departmental) orientation. It notes what is currently being worked on, which steps must be followed and where you should first pause. Using the SEM roadmap, your colleagues can see who is required at what point in time. All in all, it creates a view of the big picture. This is how search engine marketing works.

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