One of the major goals of online home improvement marketing is getting noticed in the search results. After all, a third of all product searches begin on Google, and 82 percent of smartphone users leverage their devices during buying journeys even when they’re in a physical store.
To put your company front and center when consumers turn to the SERPs for help, you need to combine SEO and SEM efforts.
The Difference Between SEO and SEM
SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEM stands for search engine marketing.
The first refers to the organic efforts you make on and off your pages to increase relevance and ranking in the SERPs. SEO efforts include:
- Keyword research and inclusion of keywords in on-page content
- Writing high-quality, relevant content on your site
- Ensuring your site is user-friendly and mobile-friendly by increasing page speeds, leveraging responsive and simple design, and using HTTPS encryption
- Encouraging backlinks and social shares
- Managing citations to ensure your NAP (name, address, and phone) data is consistent across the internet.
SEO is free in the sense that you don’t pay to appear in search results when Google includes you of its own accord, and you don’t pay when someone clicks those links. However, it’s not free in the sense that you typically have to spend time and/or money positioning your pages to rank high in the SERPs.
In contrast, SEM refers to paid ad efforts to appear more in the SERPs. It involves:
- Keyword research so you know which phrases to bid on
- Writing search engine text ads
- Using tools such as Google Ads to bid on and target ads to the right audience
- Paying each time the ad is displayed or someone clicks on it (depending on the type of ad you’re buying)
Why You Need Both
SEO is an organic, long-term effort. It helps build trust and authority for your company, because when you appear at the top of the organic search results, you’re getting the ultimate approval stamp for quality and relevance. There’s a reason more than a third of the clicks go to that top result and the majority of clicks go to the first three results.
But SEO takes a while to bear fruit, and there are never any guarantees of a harvest. That’s why most companies supplement it with targeted SEM. Paid advertising lets you control who sees your message, how often it appears, and when certain pages are promoted above others.
That makes home improvement SEM a good tool for increasing awareness of new products and home improvement services, introducing new locations, or increasing traffic to pages that aren’t performing well organically.