SEO vs. SEA: the right approach to unmute your business on Google

Terms like SEO and SEA are frequently thrown around, but what exactly do they mean? Which one should you focus on, or does online marketing require both?

And why should you bother with them in the first place? Marketing and sales are a big part of any business, so it's not surprising that your presence in search engines like Google can have a major impact. Read on to find out more!

What is SEO?

“The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of the Google search results.”

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an umbrella term for all technical and content optimizations you can use to make it easier for Google and other search engines to link your website to the right keywords. This process is purely organic and works on the long term.  

Search engines use deliberately obfuscated algorithms to rate your website. Nobody knows exactly what goes on in these algorithms, since they are unique to search engines and prone to change regularly to avoid exploits. However, we do know some main concepts, which we can utilize for the best results.  

Search engine algorithms score your website on thousands of factors. For simplicity’s sake we will put them in 2 categories. Website Quality (How well does your website work) and Keyword Relevance (Does the content of this page match with the intended search results). Since there are 8 spots on the first page, that should be your goal.  

The website quality rate depends on factors like the presence of a sitemap, how long your website has been live, how many high-quality websites link to yours, the loading speed, and how well it loads on mobile devices. A good place to start would be an online audit by one of the many tools offering this. Sitechecker.pro is a reliable one we would recommend.  

The relevancy rate depends on keywords, various titles, meta titles, meta descriptions, accessibility, descriptions and alt text of images, and others. The bots crawling your website distinguish the levels of headings on your pages and place a weighting accordingly. So, it’s important to make sure your intended keywords are used in your H1, H2 and H3 titles consistently in your content pieces.

Should you focus on SEO or SEA?

Considering that both are part of a unique strategy, there is no straightforward response to this question. If your company relies on people searching for its services online to fill a need, or if it has a longer decision-making cycle, having a presence in search engines is crucial. If you start working on SEO right now, don't expect to see any results until after a year or two. However, this does not mean that it has no advantages in the short term. Relatively quickly, you will:

  • Gather valuable insights in what your target audience looks like.
  • Gather inspiration for content that will not only help SEO but will be interesting to your target audience on social media as well.
  • Improve your ranking on SEA campaigns if you take a two-pronged approach.
  • Improve your chances of having third parties share your content.  

Keep in mind that not every website has to post three blogs every week. The recommended frequency will depend on your situation, but making minimal optimizations now makes a huge difference when you get to the point where SEO becomes part of your strategy.  

Since SEA is a more short-term approach, the answer is easier. If it fits your strategy and budget, you should try it! Look at the results, make some changes, and try it again. A healthy combination of always-on campaigns like branding and goal-specific campaigns will help your business attract new opportunities in the short term. Whether this works will depend on your services and your target audience, and there’s only one way to know for sure: targeted advertising.

Not sure where to start? Still have some questions on the specifics? Contact us, and together we'll check which search engine strategy is the best channel to unmute your company!

What is SEA?

Search Engine Advertising (SEA) is the paid version of SEO. If you don’t feel like waiting for the algorithms to pick up on your efforts, you can always pay Google and other search engines to end up first on the list. Working with advertisements like this also gives you more control over which keywords you rank for, which text your client sees in the results, and which landing page they are sent to.  

Even though SEA is a form of skipping the queue by paying, many SEO practices are still useful here. In an SEA campaign, you place bids to be shown when people search using certain keywords. Bidding more than your competition is not always enough though. Search engines like Google only work because people see relevant results pop up when they search for something specific.

That’s why search engines will also give your website and landing page a ranking based on its relevance to each keyword. This ranking will determine the amount you will need to pay per click, the % of searches your ad will be shown on, and even in which position of the search results your ad will be shown.

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