Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is something everyone wants to achieve online. According to Wikipedia it is the process of improving the visibility of a web site or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results.
Getting found online is more than just putting your website online and telling a few people. You have to attack marketing it just like you do a brick & mortar business. Companies big and small spend millions of dollars every year doing research on how to make their business more visible to their customers. A website should be no different.
The science of SEO is quite tricky sometimes as technology and services are constantly changing. That is where Search Engine Marketing (SEM) comes into play. SEM is where most businesses invest money online.
The difference between SEO and SEM is pretty simple.
SEO can be built through organic or un-paid ways. This is not to be confused with services like MyModernWeb's SEO service. Although it is a paid service it is a service designed to assist website owners who do not want to, or don't have the ability to, build their SEO themselves. SEM is a paid form of marketing with search engines. The most obvious form of this is the text ads you see above your search listings on all search engines. They will use tags like "Sponsored Links" to show what is paid and what is naturally in the listings.
Their are pros and cons to both forms of marketing your website.
The pros to using SEO is it typically will be less expensive to have done for your business. If you are good with the internet then it can even be free. If you know where to post your websites content and what to do to your website to get it ready this can be a great way to get started online.
The cons to SEO is that it can be complicated to get it going and it also takes some time. With SEO since you are doing modifications to the code to your website then getting it to the right places online you then have to wait for those places to do what they need to. Most of the time they will confirm you made the changes then they will observe your site. Overtime it will make a difference.
The pros to using SEM is it can get you in front of people on the search engines much quicker. It can even get you more targeted traffic to your site.
The cons to using SEM is that it does cost and still can be complicated in choosing the right terms to market. A beginning campaign shouldn't start for much less than $100 per month budget for ads. If you or the person managing your advertising campaign online doesn't pick good keywords or key terms for your site you could run through your entire budget very quickly and not see the results you were hoping for.
So what will you choose?
In the end, no matter what you do SEO will be one choice. Without SEO the SEM will not work. You have to have a site that is built and setup in a way that the search engines can work with easily.
A good combination of both options tends to yield the best results.
If you are using any form of SEO or SEM please let us know what results you have seen or if you have further questions about this topic simply post a comment below and we will respond.