As a business owner, you probably already know that SEO and SEM are essential to the success of your overall online marketing strategy. No matter how small your business is, you need to implement at least some basic SEO and SEM tactics in order to increase awareness, build a solid customer base, and eventually grow your business. Now, what you may have failed to realize is that SEO and SEM aren’t one-time deals and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to your optimization and marketing needs.
SEO and SEM require commitment and your work goes beyond keyword research, web design, and content creation. Those are indeed important components that serve as the first steps in launching your SEO and SEM campaign, but you’ll have to go through a continuing process in order to ensure sustainable success. You need to keep earning high-quality links, engaging your audience, providing high-quality content, and optimizing customer experience on your site. The task might seem daunting, but the good news is that there is a wide variety of software that can aid you, and the rewards you get are definitely worth the hard work.
What’s the Difference?
When you hear the term Search Engine Marketing (SEM), it may seem like a general term referring to all marketing efforts targeted at making your website show up on top of search engine results pages (SERPs). This definition was indeed correct when the term was first coined in 2001. In the past, therefore, SEM included SEO. Today, though, the term is used in reference to all paid search advertising efforts such as geo-targeting and pay-per-click (PPC). SEO, on the other hand, is used in reference to all organic search marketing efforts.
The fact that these terms have come to mean two different things doesn’t necessarily mean they are completely mutually exclusive. In fact, learning how to make SEO and SEM work hand-in-hand is the key to taking full advantage of your search marketing campaign and maximizing your potential for success.
Why is there a need for you to learn as much as you can about SEO and SEM? Here are the top 3 reasons:
- Budget – You are operating a small business that is just starting out. Understandably, you’ll have more important things to spend your budget on than a professional SEO/SEM company. By learning at least the basics, you can successfully launch your first search marketing campaigns on your own.
- Outsourcing Decisions – When your business has grown enough that you can afford the fees of a professional SEO/SEM company, you’ll be in a better position to make intelligent outsourcing decisions if you understand the basics. You’ll know what to look for and avoid getting scammed.
- Trends and Updates – Google launches hundreds of updates each year and other search engines are quickly catching up. If you know the basics of SEO and SEM, you can easily grasp the implications of each major update and adjust your campaigns accordingly.
SEO/SEM Software Benefits
You’re convinced that SEO and SEM are important, even to small businesses like yours, but why is there a need for a variety of software? Here are the most important benefits SEO/SEM software has to offer:
How can you keep improving your SEO/SEM strategies if you have no way of measuring your performance? Analytics is indeed a critical feature of any SEO/SEM software. Software like SimilarWeb and Google Analytics show you how your site performs in terms of web traffic. They tell you which of your web pages are viewed the most, which channels send your site the most traffic, where most of your visitors come from, and what keywords your visitors use, among other things. These pieces of information help you understand what you need to improve on and what you need to change in your SEO/SEM strategies.
2. Brand Awareness/Visibility
Just because you’ve built a good website and filled it with excellent content doesn’t mean people will automatically become aware of your brand’s existence. It also doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get the kind of visibility needed to grow your business. Brand awareness and visibility comes only from careful planning and a boatload of online marketing activities, including (of course) SEO and SEM. And when you’re implementing a host of online activities, you will naturally have to use a number of software to ensure success.
3. Targeted Traffic Increase
As mentioned earlier, analytics software can help you determine whether your traffic objectives are being met or not. There are also backlink analyzing software that can help evaluate the quality of your inbound links, check your total links against linking domains, and measure the variance and usage of your anchor texts, among others. The information you get from these types of software equip you with the necessary knowledge to optimize your site better, thereby bringing in not just more traffic, but better quality traffic.
4. Improved Conversion Rates
If you are selling clothes specifically for plus-size women, you probably won’t benefit much from women who come to your site via a search for “women’s fashion”. With the kind of targeted traffic you get as explained in #3, you’ll have a much better chance of improving your conversion rates. Other than software to help you measure traffic and link performance, it would also be a good idea to use software that allows you to match keywords with your SEO/SEM objectives.
5. Reduced Cost
Naturally, you’ll have to shell out some money for the SEO/SEM software you choose to use. But the returns on this investment are so much greater than the investment itself, you’ll be sure to agree it was well worth it. In the long run, you’ll realize the cost was actually a lot smaller than it would have been if you’d been blindly strategizing without the benefit of helpful software.
Top SEO/SEM Software
You could do your own research, but to make things easier for you, here are some of what we consider the best SEO/SEM software currently available:
- Moz Analytics – Formerly known as SEOmoz, this is a marketing analytics software that combines SEO/SEM management and social media monitoring, along with several other useful features. The easy-to-use interface makes it the ideal all-in-one tool for custom reporting, marketing insights, and actionable performance.
- Ahrefs – This is a website analysis software that carries such useful features as Backlink Checker, Batch Analysis, Crawl reports, Domain Comparison, and Site Explorer.
- SimilarWeb Pro – This software is a competitive intelligence platform that provides a lot more than the basic tools. It also offers in-depth competitor keyword analysis, SEO vs. SEM keyword performance comparison, mobile app traffic sources, and competitor website traffic analysis, among other things.
- SEO Toolkit – This Microsoft software is very useful to hosting providers, site administrators, and web developers. Among other things, the software offers recommendations for improving search engine performance and overall website relevance.
- Optmyzr – This software saves you from wasting your time and effort on repetitive tasks on AdWords. It includes tools such as a historical Quality Score Tracker and a One-Click Optimization tool.
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider – This desktop tool works by fetching onsite page elements like apps, CSS, images, and links for analysis. The data collected is presented to you in tabular form, which you can easily export into Excel for future reference.
- Woorank – This is a digital SEO tool that provides you with instant site reviews as well as personalized tips on how to drive more traffic to your site, get more leads, and generate more sales. It covers not just SEO, but also mobile rendering, SERP ranking, and social media data, among others.
- Link Prospector – This software helps online marketers identify high-quality link opportunities from link pages, niche directories, guest blogging, sponsorships, etc.
- Monitor Backlinks – The name says it all. This software helps you monitor your backlinks. To be specific, it notifies you whenever your backlinks are changed, removed, or nearing expiration.
- SEOprofiler – This software offers an entire set of SEO tools that are very useful for keyword research, competitive intelligence, link building and link management, and website audit.
Now, here’s something very important you need to keep in mind: SEO and SEM efforts shouldn’t really cater to search engines. I know they’re called search engine optimization and marketing, respectively, but you need to realize that SEO and SEM are really two forms of customer service. You see, the primary reason why you need to make sure your site is ranked high on SERPs is that more and more people are now searching for information via search engines. So, you see, it’s not really the search engines you cater to, but the people using these search engines.
Now that you have a better understanding of SEO/SEM, why you need to learn the basics (at least), and why SEO/SEM software is important, you should be in a better position to launch a successful SEO/SEM campaign. Who knows, you just might see you small business grow faster than you hoped for.