What are the Differences Between SEO and SEM?

What Are The Differences Between SEO & SEM?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves maximizing the number of visitors to a website by ensuring the site appears high in search engine results. Effective SEO strategies are created through an understanding of a search engine’s results algorithm and optimizing a website to match that criteria.

As a simplified overview of what goes into SEO, here are four important ranking factors in organic search engine results that could affect your dental practice's online visibility.

1.) Content (keywords)

When a search engine indexes a website, its “spiders” crawl through the site’s content and find important keywords that users are likely to search for. Quality content that is useful and easy to read helps improve a website’s relevance on its topic and consequent ranking.

2.) Page Title

The title of the page should establish what the page’s content is about. A proper title will include keywords that represent the content and what is covered within it. It also provides another place for keywords to be indexed by the search engine spiders.

3.) Links

Both internal and external links factor into a website’s search ranking. External links to other well-recognized and established websites will bring validation to your content and site, also helping increase the site’s search ranking.

4.) Reviews

Online reviews, ideally positive, can have a great impact on a website's search results ranking. Online reviews on reputable sites like Yelp or Google My Business can have a large role in increasing where a site appears within search results. Local search is becoming a large part of patient decision-making and is expected to have even larger impacts in the future.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) involves the buying of traffic from search engine results though paid search activities. SEO is sometimes included when referencing search engine marketing because some best practices overlap. However, it is important to remember that these are two separate strategies.

When utilizing SEM, a dental practice is paying to appear within search engine results when specific keywords or phrases are used. These results are identified as an ad and displayed in a separate area from the organic search results.

Common SEM tactics are as follows:

  • Paid Placement (Pay Per Click)
  • Paid Inclusion
  • Shopping Search
  • Video Search Ads
  • Local Search Ads
  • Product Listing Ads

How SEO and SEM Can Benefit Your Dental Practice

Today’s patient is extremely sophisticated and informed. They get much of their information from searching for it online. Having a properly designed website that incorporates proper SEO means that your practice’s information can be easily found on the first page of relevant online searches.

Another way to drive traffic to your dental practice’s website is through SEM tactics. Rather than appearing in organic search results as a result of SEO, SEM ensures your practice is in front of potential patients in the form of an ad. Pay per click, for example, gives total control over when your ad appears, what it says, and how much you’re willing to spend when your ad is clicked on.

Most important to understand, SEO and SEM increases your practice’s ability to be found online, where potential patients are searching. Increased site traffic will not only increase brand awareness, but also leads for your practice. SEO and SEM are a cost-effective solution to increasing web traffic and sales for your dental practice.

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