SEO is often considered the most daunting discipline in Digital Marketing. For many people, they can’t seem to un-wrap up the difference between SEO and SEM. So today we are going to demystify these two terms.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. SEO is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. This encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines.

SEM, on the other hand, stands for Search Engine Marketing. SEM includes the use of paid search, such as pay per click (PPC) listings and advertisements. Most of the time, SEM strictly includes PPC campaigns and activities, but if you use SEO and paid search, that falls under Search Engine Marketing efforts.

So how do these search engines work? 

1. Crawling

Search Engines like Google and Bing examine content throughout the web.

2. Indexing

Then they categorize each piece of content.

3. Ranking

After which they then decide which content is useful for searchers.

So basically the search engines algorithms crawl the internet and look at all the pages and all the content and then they decide how to index it.

So let’s say they find the exact same content on 10 different sites, the algorithms then decide which of those is the most relevant.

For example, let’s say there are ten companies all selling the same hardware product, from the same manufacturer and each company used the product description from the manufacturer. The search engine isn’t likely to show all of the results and who it picks will depend on website ranking score.

When you type your search the search engine looks through all the pages indexed looking for matching results. 

How exactly search engines rank their pages is dependent on their algorithm. Actually there are over 200 variables but we do know that internal and external links, keywords you use and the freshness of the content are very important.

Now, what exactly do the search engines look for?

They look through your HTML on your site to determine what your page is about. Content management systems  (CMS) are systems which can do this for you. A great example of an easy to use CMS is WordPress.

The first thing the search engine looks at is your title so if you’re trying to appear in a search for Lawn Mowers but your title is ‘Going Green’ this won’t likely do you much good in appearing in the search for Lawn Mowers.

So you need to make sure your page title accurately describes it’s content.

Then next is the actual content and this is where keywords come in. The search engine will look through your content to see if it is relevant to the search but be careful of keyword stuffing, i.e. putting too many keywords just to appear on Google/Bing search results page as you likely won’t end up on the first page regardless.

Images; Search engines can not interpret or see images. You need to make sure each image has an accurate description, caption or alt text/tag. This is what the search engine will use to determine whether your image should be a part of the search.

Hope you found this useful and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our blog to receive a notification of the next week’s blog as we continue talking about SEO and SEM basics.

Bye for now.