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SEM vs. SEO: Short-Term vs. Long-Term Strategies of Being Found Online

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When looking to create visibility for your brand, a freelance digital marketer in Dubai will take you through some of the best options for your brand. At some point, you will hear about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is one of the most crucial ingredients of modern-day marketing.

What is SEO?

In layman terms, SEO is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your site through organic search engine results. To get a better understanding of what SEO is all about, here is a breakdown of its meaning:

  • Quality of traffic – it would be pointless to have lots of people visiting your website only to find a small percentage of them only interested in your products. You might be a fruit farmer selling apples, but the people coming to your site are interested in purchasing Apple products electronics.
  • Quantity of traffic – at the end of the day, we would all love looking at our analytics and realizing that many people visited our sites. Your website ranks for particular keywords through SEO, and those searching for results that your page offers are most likely to visit and check it out.
  • Organic results – organic, in this case, means natural. These are the results that people get by simply keying in a specific keyword to their search engines. If your website ranks, it will appear among the first search results making it easier for you to be found, even without paying for it.

There are many ways to get your website ranking using SEO. However, all these SEO strategies are often grouped into three main categories, namely:

  • On-page SEO – your website’s individual pages are optimized to target a specific keyword, making them appeal to search engines. Some of the popular methods include proper keyword research & optimization and content creation. When done well, search engines can understand what a page is all about and make it possible to give it a higher rank.
  • Technical SEO – improving the back-end structures and foundation of a site by optimizing non-content elements also boosts the ranking of a page. These strategies relate to mobile-friendliness, site speed, site architecture, etc.
  • Off-page SEO – this refers to building a web site’s reputation by connecting it to higher authority sites. One popular technique is link building.

Advantages of SEO

  • Your site becomes tested by searchers since they know you cannot buy your way to the top organically.
  • Higher CTR (click-through rates)
  • Increased conversion rates
  • Free traffic to your site

Disadvantages of SEO

  • Search Engine Optimization takes more time to reflect on SERPs (Search engine result pages)
  • This is a tedious and on-going process. You have to be continually building links, adding new relevant content, and tweaking tags to remain at the top. You also have to stay up to date with search engine algorithms that keep changing and improving.

One of the other strategies used by freelance digital marketers in the UAE to gain brand visibility is Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Search Engine Advertising (SEA).

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing uses a different approach from Search Engine Optimization, as the former is a short-term strategy and one has to pay for it. This pay-per-click model is ideal for those looking to get immediate traffic to their site by making the search engines rank them on certain keywords.

In this model, advertisers only pay the search engine companies such as Google whenever a user clicks on their ad, which eventually leads them to their website. When advertising with Google, the first step is usually to set up a Google Adwords account, identify the keywords you would like to rank on, and have your ad running within 15 minutes.

Marketers can track the performance of their ads by using software such as Google Analytics. This is a good approach as one can identify their mistakes and learn from a previous campaign, to make the next one even better. Although this model shows immediate results, it is often not preferred by those looking for long-term visibility since once the campaign period expires, their websites will no longer rank for the chosen keywords.

Advantages of SEM

  • Even if a user doesn’t click on your ad, you’ll still be building brand awareness.
  • You have total control of your budget, spending as much or as little as you like.
  • You have total control over where your ad gets shown and to what type of audience.
  • You can create time-sensitive campaigns to run your promotions and special offers.
  • PPC: Only pay when someone clicks your ad.

Disadvantages of SEM

  • Lower CTR: Paid advertising brings lower click-through rates. PPC ads are typically less trusted than those that rank organically.
  • You have to pay for traffic to your site. Once the campaign is over, you will not get ranked, hence no more traffic for you.

In a nutshell, here are the main differences between short-term and long-term SEO strategies:

  • SEM – uses paid strategies to appear in search results and takes a short time to rank
  • SEO – uses organic strategies to appear in search results but takes a longer period to rank.

SEO v SEM: Which is better?

Now that you understand the main differences between SEM (short-term ranking strategies) and SEO (long-term ranking strategies), which one would be ideal for your site? To help you with the decision, there are two major factors to consider:

  1. Know your industry better: If you’ve been in the industry long enough to understand what customers want, SEO might be okay for you. But if you’re just starting out, SEM might be a good start to conduct testing and seeing what the reactions from the users are.
  2. Consider the length of your typical buying cycle: SEO works best for products or services that customers might take more research time before buying. If the products have a short buying cycle, meaning that customers know exactly what they’re looking for, then SEM is perfect for you.

Make the Right Decision

Both SEO and SEM yield better results if done correctly. Do not gamble with your business and let some of the best freelance digital marketers in Dubai help you take it to the next level.

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