Search Engine Marketing (SEM) vs. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Knowing the difference between search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) can save you thousands of dollars and help you avoid scams. These terms are frequently confused because there are similarities between them. Both services will typically include submission of your website to the major search engines. They also frequently include submission of your site to Bing, Google, and Yahoo maps. Armed with this information, you will be able to weed out many of the companies that are merely trying to scam you.

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is typically a pay-per-click campaign such as Google AdWords. Pay-per-click is an advertisement listed in the "Sponsored Sites" on Bing, "Sponsored Links" on Google, or "Sponsored Results" on Yahoo. Pay-per-click advertisements can also appear on other websites such as this one, refer to the "Ads by Google" on the left side of this page. With pay-per-click you only pay when someone clicks on your sponsored listing.

A benefit of this type of Internet advertising is that you can get quick results. Typically, your listing will show up on the search result pages within one day. Another benefit is that you do not have to give any access to your website to SEM companies. However, a good search engine marketer will need access to install analytic software and to fine tune the pages so they improve the ranking of your paid listings.

The down side is the cost. Pricing for a pay-per-click advertising campaign varies by the competition for the keywords and the geographical target you select that are used to display your advertisement. For instance a Google AdWords campaign for the keywords "Carpet Cleaning Phoenix AZ" will cost about $12 per click. The monthly cost could exceed $3,000 making search engine marketing a large monthly expense. Most importantly pay-per-click is only useful if you are not ranked well in the "organic" search results.

Search Engine Optimization

The goal of the search engines is to display the websites that most closely match the search terms that were entered. Search engine optimization is correcting your existing website so that it will rank well in "organic" search results with terms that people would use to find your website. Organic search results are listed right after the paid sponsored results. The way the different search engines decide who will be ranked number one is based on algorithms they developed. These algorithms are kept "Top Secret" and they are changed periodically. These listing can not be purchased they are displayed based on the content and the back links to your web page.

Most people do not go past page three of the search results so utilizing a SEO company is very beneficial. If you can get your website ranked on the first page of the search results, you will have the same benefits of a pay-per-click campaign without having to pay for each click. This can save you a lot of money. For example, carpet cleaning companies in the Phoenix, Arizona area can pay as much as $3,000 per month for search engine marketing pay-per-click campaigns. The price for search engine optimization varies from website to website but it is less expensive than SEM. Some types of code errors on the pages can significantly increase the amount of time it takes to fix the site and occasionally a redesign of the site will be needed but in general there will be a onetime charge for initial optimization that will typically range from $300 to $1500. Legitimate SEO companies will be more than happy to outline in writing what they can do for you and commit to a fixed price before they start.

The down side to search engine optimization is that it can be a long drawn out process. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months before the search engines even know your website exists. SEO companies will require access to your website so they can edit your web pages. Also on going SEO maintenance, while not required, is highly recommended. It can take several adjustments of your web pages to achieve a high ranking and you are competing with other companies that are trying to out do your website rankings. Monthly SEO maintenance can range anywhere from $50 to $300 depending on the amount of service you will require. However, in the long run optimizing your website for the search engines is extremely cost effective.

Please refer to our search engine optimization page for information about what is required to achieve good organic search engine rankings.

Things to Watch Out For

There many so called SEM and SEO companies will guarantee you they will get you ranked number one on Google and use all sorts of high pressure tactics to trick uneducated website owners into needlessly spending thousands of dollars. They are full off it! There is no way to guarantee a number one position on any of the search engines for any amount of money. The best way to ensure a high ranking in order of importance is to have good quality content, a popular website, and one that is free of code errors. Any good web developer or SEO company will know this.

A key thing to watch for when you are contacted by an SEM or SEO company via email is the domain name portion of their email address. If the domain name is a generic account such as,, etc... then it is a safe bet they are merely trying to swindle you. A legitimate SEO company will use their own domain in the email address i.e.,, etc.. The reason that the scammers use generic email accounts is that they do not want you to know who they really are.

There are numerous other factors that help with website ranking and
McGrath Electronics, Inc. can assist you with them.

Please see our SEO Services page for details and pricing.


Sitemap | Privacy Statement

Copyright © 1993-2023 McGrath Electronics, Inc., All Rights Reserved.