Often times companies — especially start-ups — compete in a crowded space with competitors who have similar messaging, services or products. They end up trying to outspend the competition in the wrong places. But you can set your business apart when you know what you're doing. How? SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO is about knowing what your customers are searching for and connecting them with your goods or services.
In this episode of J&See: Views on Marketing, Meg Goodman speaks with Grant Simmons, a digital marketing expert who specializes in SEO. Grant and Meg break down what exactly SEO is, how it differs from SEM and how companies can take advantage of these each to drive meaningful traffic to their sites. Read on for a few helpful takeaways from his interview. And make sure to subscribe to J&See: Views on Marketing to hear a conversation about marketing like this once a month.
Q: Talk about SEO and why it’s becoming such a necessary piece in digital marketing for brands.
A: SEO is about gaining or earning online visibility in search engine results. Although it’s called SEO, search engine optimization, it’s really about optimizing so you can show up in search engines. The way I look at it, you have to earn that traffic. You earn that traffic by being the best result. The key thing there is … to get the best traffic to your site.
The goal is to understand it’s not free. There is an investment of time, effort and energy to do it. People are searching for goods and services, maybe your brand, every day. If you can connect with those searches in a way that helps people … you have a new opportunity to drive great traffic to your site and great traffic is the kind of traffic that meets whatever goals you have set.
Q: What’s the difference between SEO and SEM and should companies be focusing on one or another or both?
A: SEM is search engine marketing as opposed to SEO, search engine optimization … SEM is generally looked at as paid search or PPC, pay-per-click. Most of those folks are spending money on Google ads, but there is also display media and social paid.
The main difference between SEO and SEM is really that paid aspect of it ... It is important for companies to do both. It really depends on their business, where their audience is actually searching and what they’re searching … SEM is almost immediate results. You can be up and running in a couple of days and driving traffic if you want to pay for it. SEO is a much longer-term strategy. It includes content marketing, LinkedIn earning and fixing your site so that search engines and users love it. I think that companies should try both and see what works best for them.
Q: How do you approach B2B marketing differently than B2C?
A: If you’re doing SEO and SEM correctly, it really is all about the audience. What are their needs? What are you trying to sell to them? How are you planning to connect their needs with your services? From that standpoint, fundamentally, there’s no difference … There is a difference of scale, a difference in return … The consumer audiences are massive. Generally, B2B audiences are smaller … But at the end of the day, in search marketing, you have to give visibility to your products, services, brands, offerings … and you have to connect with the needs of the customers that are out there.
Q: In today’s digital marketing world, some may think it’s easier for start-ups to build their brand. Is that so or is it actually harder because of more competition?
A: If you are getting into a crowded space, then you should be where the other people are. If they’re marketing on Facebook, you should be on Facebook. If they’re marketing in paid search, you should be in paid search. Generally, for start-ups, that is very difficult because then it comes down to can you outspend, or do you have a different message than that competition … If you’re going to be a start-up today and you don’t want to have much competition, then find the space that disrupts what’s out there in a different enough way that people go to you because you are solving the problem better … You are solving it with different messaging… I think it’s much harder for a start-up to jump into an existing business or business model … I think it’s much easier for a company that comes out with a new widget … Find something that no one else is doing or find a much better way of doing something that is differentiated enough that people understand that difference.
Listen to the whole episode to hear Grant and Meg’s full conversation about SEO and SEM. Download J&See: Views on Marketing on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Or you can listen to the episode on Google Podcasts and Simplecast. And make sure you subscribe to get a new episode every month.