There are many ways to promote yourself: among them there are paid and almost "free" ones, those that bring quick results and work for the future. Most of them can be divided into three types - SEO, PPC and SEM. The Ringostat platform talks about these three concepts, their advantages and disadvantages, and in which cases they are more suitable.

It might seem that only specialists need to know these abbreviations. And if you order a promotion from an agency or freelancer, you don't need to figure it out. But we still advise you to delve into the differences between SEO, PPC and SEM.

So you can:
  • speak the same language with a promotion specialist;
  • learn more about each approach and choose the most suitable one for yourself;
  • learn something useful for yourself in SEO, PPC and SEM.
So let's get started.

Search Engine Optimization - a set of measures to increase a site's visibility in search engines for targeted queries. Simply put, the main goal of SEO is to promote a site to the top of search results in order to increase targeted traffic, i.e. the number of potential customers. To do this, the specialist optimizes the site so that the search engine finds it informative, useful and relevant to specific search queries.

Important note: not everything you see in search results is SEO-related. For example, if you type the search query "custom furniture" into Google, you will see ads in the search results, which may be at the top and bottom of the page. But the "middle" will be occupied by so-called "organic search results."

Positioning can be considered a "free" way of promotion, since a company does not pay to have its site displayed in Google search results. This is in contrast to contextual advertising, in which the advertiser must assign a sufficient cost to click on the ad. Otherwise his ad will not be displayed high enough.

But of course, SEO is not free. The company pays for the work of an SEO specialist, the purchase of links, tools to help find errors on the site that negatively affect its ranking, etc.

What are the stages of SEO
  1. Technical audit of a website. This is a check of download speed, compliance with search engine requirements, absence of errors, for example, whether the site contains "broken" links, etc.
  2. Developing the site's structure: content levels and hierarchy. For example, in the case of a clothing store, one of the higher levels of the hierarchy will be the "For Men" section, which will include "Clothes", "Shoes", "Accessories" sections. Each of these will have its own subsections - for example, "Belts", "Backpacks". All of this is thought out by an SEO specialist so that the site's pages will be at the top of the results if a person searches for something from clothing.
  3. Semantic core compilation. Includes collecting and analyzing keywords on which competitors in your niche thrive.
  4. Link building. For this purpose, SEOs can buy links or exchange useful backlink articles with other resources. An example of such an article on the Click Center blog from the Ringostat platform:
5. Internal optimization of the site: technical and substantive. The first means the actions that a specialist performs with the source code of the site's pages. The second is to ensure that visitors see useful and understandable information about your resource. Usually, the SEO specialist himself does not write the content, but develops the terms of reference for the content marketer.
6. Analytics. After all the work is done, the specialist regularly monitors, analyzes web analytics reports, how users behave on the site and reach the site. He tracks and analyzes the positions the site occupies in search results.
SEO advantages
  1. SEO still works, even when you stop doing it. If you have paid enough attention to optimization and then cut back on your budget, your site will rank well for a long time.
  2. Organic search results inspire more trust from users than ads.
  3. Low cost and higher return. Organic traffic is free and you don't have to pay every time a customer wants to go to your site.
  4. Strategic advantage over other companies. If your site is at the top of the organic search results, your competitors won't be able to buy into it. Unlike ads, where it all depends on the price another player assigns for a click.
Disadvantages of SEO

  1. SEO is a long game. You have to wait several months for results.
  2. No one knows for sure which site Google or Bing will consider "good." Search algorithms are responsible for this, the principle of which is carefully hidden. This is done so that SEO specialists can not cheat the system.
  3. In some areas it is very difficult to top the problem. For example, in the real estate industry, the first places in the organic search results are usually occupied by sites of housing integrators. And the sites of apartment complexes are most likely to be lower.
  • Pay per click - a model in which an advertiser pays for clicks on ads. This is often referred to generically as contextual advertising, and experts in its creation are called PPC specialists.
  • It is a type of online promotion in which advertising is displayed depending on the content of the page or the search engine query entered. Such advertising is seen by users whose interests are related to the product or service being promoted. In a broad sense, contextual advertising is the placement of advertising messages in relevant content.
  • PPC is divided into the following types:
  • search engine contextual advertising - is displayed in search results, we discussed above;
  • thematic contextual advertising - displayed in designated places on partner ad networks' sites and apps;
  • remarketing - displaying ads to users who have already been to the site, but did not complete the targeted action.
What are the stages of working with PPC
  • Creation of ads. The specialist writes the content of the ads, taking into account how to highlight the advantages of the offer. However, it must fit into a limited number of characters. In addition, the ad should not copy the ads of competitors - otherwise the customer will not remember the brand.
  • Configuring ads. The PPC specialist configures the ads so that only the target audience sees them. He sets the rates, selects the creatives and the time the ads are displayed - if we're talking about manual settings. He also has to set up the campaign so that the budget is not wasted in the first few days.
  • Controlling the running campaigns. The specialist must monitor whether all ads have been moderated, whether there are conversions from the ads, how the leads from the campaign behave, how specific keywords have performed. Everything can be seen in Google Analytics reports. It is even more convenient if the company uses comprehensive analytics. In this case, the specialist sees not only conversions, but can immediately assess the return on contextual advertising - in terms of ROI.
  • Phone call analysis - working with call tracking.
  • If customers call frequently at a particular company, a PPC specialist pays attention to whether there are calls from ads. This can be analyzed in the reports of the call tracking service - down to the source, channel, campaign and keyword that led to the call. A specialist can immediately listen to audio recordings of the calls to understand how users perceive the ad. Below is an example of the platform's report.
Advantages of PPC
  1. Unlike SEO, contextual advertising is an opportunity to attract customers quickly. All you have to do is run the ad, and if it's set up properly, leads will start coming in almost the next day.
  2. You clearly understand what you are paying for. When you choose keywords, the specialist immediately sees the recommended per-click rate for each one. You set the daily budget for the campaign yourself. And the system warns you about the potential range of clicks and impressions with such investments. Once the money has been spent, the interface displays all campaign spending.
  3. From contextual ads comes traffic from potentially interested users. With these settings, ads are displayed not to everyone, but only to users who are similar to your target audience. For example, the company spins ads for commercial queries - "buy", "order" and minus informational ones - "what is it", "how to do...". This narrows the audience, and people who were originally supposed to buy end up on the site.
  4. Ads can be easily turned on and off. The Google Ads interface is intuitive. To run an ad, all you have to do is select a target, enter the title and text of the ad, upload a photo if the ad format allows it. The system will even suggest keywords on its own.
Disadvantages of contextual advertising
  1. PPC can be quite expensive. Especially in highly competitive niches. At the same time, there is no guarantee that a person who clicks on an ad - and is deducted money for doing so - will eventually become a buyer.
  2. As soon as you turn off the ads, the influx of potential customers stops. Unlike SEO, whose effect is long-lasting.
  3. The position of the ad depends on the competition. The position your ad hits in the search results is "drawn" in a special auction with other companies advertising in similar queries. If other niche players have paid more, their ads will be higher in the search results.
  4. There are limitations associated with some niches. For example, in the medical field, personalized advertising related to disease treatment, plastic surgery, prescription drugs, etc. is prohibited.
When to bet on PPC
First of all, if you have enough budget for promotion and want to attract customers now. Contextual advertising is also useful if you want to advertise a sale or promotion.

Keep in mind, however, that PPC is not very suitable in niches where users have not yet suggested such a need - and are simply not searching for your products or services. Above all, this applies to innovative companies that have invented a new product. Or they introduce to the local market what is still popular only in other countries. Of course, such a situation is not a verdict, but a specialist will have to be very inventive to reach the target group.
Search Engine Marketing - this method combines SEO and PPC approaches. It is also sometimes referred to as integrated Internet marketing. The main task of an SEM specialist is to improve the visibility of the site and bring as much targeted traffic to it as possible, using both SEO and paid advertising.

As we mentioned above, when a query is typed into a search engine, both organic results and ads are displayed in the search results. An SEM specialist strives to make his brand visible both there and there. After all, there are always people who trust "free" results more, and there are those who click on ads more often because it looks more noticeable.

SEO and PPC, which make up SEM, in turn help strengthen the promotion strategy.
The internal optimization of a site ensures a good reputation in terms of search engines. As a result, the site eventually begins to rank better. A convenient page hierarchy and clear navigation reduce the rejection rate.

Advertising, in turn, allows you to quickly attract visitors to the site. And if the site is convenient and contains useful content, users will stay on the site - and this will increase site performance. Which, in turn, is good for SEO. In addition, SEM specialists use keywords commonly used in Google Ads to boost a site's position in search results.
With an integrated approach, the likelihood that a site will be on the first page of search results is higher.

What does SEM cover?
Given that SEM encompasses both SEO and paid advertising, a specialist deals with quite diverse tasks. They are in many ways similar to what we have already described above, so we will only discuss them briefly.

  1. Setting up and running ads, learning what words from Google Ads can be used to promote the site organically.
  2. Studying your competitors' experience - both for PPC and SEO. Analytics: what keywords competitors are positioning for, what their sites and ads look like, where they place backlinks, etc.
  3. Setting rates for contextual ads and managing budgets.
  4. Conducting A/B testing for both paid advertising placements and to increase site conversions.
  5. Workа with the site's code: for this, the specialist must know HTML, CSS and JavaScript.
  6. Tracking positions in search results on a daily basis, determining possible reasons for settling.
  7. Deciding which keywords to position organically rather than contextually. They usually resort to this when it comes to overpriced keywords.
Advantages of SEM
  1. By using both SEO and PPC, you strengthen your promotion strategy.
  2. You won't have to wait a long time for customers to show up, as is the case when you rely only on organic search results.
  3. You can lower your customer acquisition cost if you "refocus" some expensive keywords from PPC to organic.
  4. If you are just starting out with certain keywords in SEO, you can always test them in PPC first. Then you will quickly understand if there is a return from them.
Disadvantages of SEM
  1. If contextual advertising in your niche is too expensive and doesn't pay well, SEM is not for you. You will have to bet only on SEO.
  2. You'll need to get your strategy right. And you will need a team to implement it, not a single employee. Because not many people can combine an excellent SEO specialist and an experienced PPC specialist in one person.
  3. In any case, you need to get things right on the site first. No matter how attractive the advertising is, without a prepared site and correcting errors, SEM won't work.
When to bet on SEM?
Here it's all simple - SEM is appropriate if you have the ability to take care of both SEO and PPC, and at the same time and equally carefully so that they reinforce each other.

Don't ignore any of the approaches described. Even if you rely mainly on ads, they won't work when you have a clumsy and outdated site. In addition, SEO is suitable for those who are not in a hurry in the race for customers and are willing to wait several months for results.

At the same time, advertising is essential in almost all areas of business. Especially where there are very strong competitors or aggregator sites at the top of the subject. Such as in real estate, for example. PPC is best for those who have an advertising budget and want to get customers as quickly as possible.

SEM combines both of these approaches. Choose it if you have both an SEO and PPC specialist on your team. This approach works well because the user sees your site at the top of both organic and search results. You can also choose which keywords to promote in organic - and spend less money if they are expensive.