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Transitioning from SEM to SEO

People outside of the search industry frequently confuse SEO and SEM. Aren't they both search marketing? That, however, is not the case. SEO (search engine optimisation) isn't the same as SEM (search engine marketing, often known as PPC (pay-per-click) or sponsored search).

Because it's a paid channel, SEMs have a more pleasant and direct connection with Google. They usually have a Google specialist on staff who can assist with difficulties, recommend new features, such as alphas and betas for advertising, and much more. SEOs, on the other hand, have a very nebulous connection with Google, relying on thought leaders and a few influential Google workers that participate with the SEO community for information.

Preparing for Change: Changes are done differently on both sides of the search. To comprehend how search engines are changing, SEOs must do a lot of interpreting. SEMs, on the other hand, have a greater awareness of how their ecology is changing. Because SEOs don't work directly with Google and have no financial ties to the company, there's a lot of "test and learn" and insights derived from Google and other search engines' data. SEMs, on the other hand, have their own Google Ads site dedicated to the latest Google Ads updates.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) vs. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Because the two channels are so similar, there are a few talents that can easily be transferred from SEM to SEO. Keyword research, reporting, copyrighting, marketing expertise, and agency operations are among the top skillsets.

Researching Keywords

The importance of keyword research cannot be overstated (and perhaps the most obvious). When switching channels, having a basic awareness of keyword aspects such as search volume, keyword relevance, long-tail vs. short-tail keywords, and branded vs. non-branded keywords will provide you an advantage. Furthermore, both channels leverage many of the available keyword research tools (such as SEMrush). After all, both SEM and SEO have the same goal: to rank higher for relevant keywords.

Overview of SEMrush keywords

Our grasp of how sponsored search works, in addition to understanding how keywords work, was tremendously beneficial. This understanding enabled us to comprehend Google Ads' organisation, auction mechanism, and navigation. The structure of SEM's keywords has permeated how both of us organise our keywords while developing our SEO content strategy to this day.

Tools and Reporting

Another ability that transfers over from SEM to SEO is reporting. Most clients will want to view information from both channels on a weekly or monthly basis. There are additional metrics and data points to report on in SEM (for example, cost-based metrics like cost per conversion (CPC) and total expenditure).

When it comes to reporting, you can't avoid addressing spreadsheets. You may apply your SEM reporting knowledge to SEO reports if you have core spreadsheet abilities in Excel and Google Sheets. Understanding Excel may help with data analysis and manipulation, which is an important element of keyword research. Finally, understanding how to utilise Google's other platforms, such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Data Studio, can help shorten the learning curve.

Copywriting

Copywriting is another ability that can easily be transferred from SEM to SEO. Because there are stringent character restrictions in SEM, you must be brief when drafting ad content. You also have the option of running A/B tests on your copy. This implies you must get to the point fast, which is something that SEO's metadata also looks for.

Marketing Expertise

It's critical to have a foundation of general marketing knowledge and experience. To get the most out of both channels, you need to know about user journeys, audience segmentation, keyword intent, and why and how people use search engines in general.

Operation of the Agency

You'll need a clear understanding of how advertising and digital marketing organisations work to make the shift smoother. Client and agency connections, project management, running status calls, general account management, business acumen, and putting the client's requirements first are all examples of this.

Rank Timelines > Crawl > Index

Another significant distinction is the length of time it takes to observe broad optimisation outcomes. Adjusting bids, boosting budget, and stopping keywords provide near-instant outcomes in SEM (depending on budget and search volume). If you find that you're ranking for a term that you don't want to be found for, it's as simple as adding a negative keyword to ensure that your site won't be found for that query in the future.

The majority of SEO improvements, on the other hand, are slow operations. The frequency with which search engines crawl your site and how they perceive improvements can both be stumbling blocks to seeing speedy results. Another factor contributing to the delay is the actual labour required to implement the optimizations, which can be time-consuming to implement and frequently falls to developers who are simultaneously juggling other internal priorities. Although SEO does not necessitate any media expenditures, it frequently necessitates extra resources on the client's end to apply modifications to the site.

Control

Another area of distinction is controllability in general. In opposing zones, each channel has more control. When it comes to SEM, the targeting section has greater control. Due to match types, SEM may use demographic targeting, quickly test or adjust ad text, and have more control over which keywords to rank for. Once a user is on a site, SEO allows for greater control. After the visitor arrives on the site, SEO can help to improve the user experience. Unlike SEM, which is primarily responsible for bringing consumers to the site, SEO may frequently assist in keeping customers interested during their visit.

Our Top Takeaways and Recommendations for Transitioning from SEM to SEO

Be honest with yourself about what you want to achieve and why you want to do it.

When you're honest about your job goals and needs, you'll have more opportunities to network with others in the SEO community. Being upfront and honest about your desires may even assist you in realising that you can shift gears in your current position to focus on things that interest you. Additionally, if you work in a multi-service agency, you may be able to learn SEO from those within or outside your firm through experiences such as informative interviews, shadowing, internships, mentorship, or supporting your company's SEO staff.

If you're unsure, Google it.

It's always better to acquire information directly from the source. It's typical to get conflicting advice from the SEO community, and you'll have to sift through the noise and check numerous sources to get solutions.