The Difference Between SEO & SEM and How One Can Help the Other

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When trying to look up ways to improve real estate agents internet marketing, agents are almost guaranteed to bump into two acronyms: SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing). SEO may be a more common topic these days, but both can provide a critical element in your internet marketing strategy. So, what’s the difference and how does each work? Read on to find out.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) for Real Estate Agents

Simply put, SEM is paid ads on a search engine. For Google, they are called AdWords, and Bing calls them Bing Ads. Both offer similar features and utility. SEM is simple to use:

  • Advertisers (in this case real estate agents) choose which keyword searches they want their ads to show up on.
  • They type up a few different short text ads and decide which keywords will be connected with which ads (multiple keywords can use the same ad copy).
  • Agents then set what is called a “real time bidding” (RTB) amount. Just like eBay’s “maximum bid” feature, this amount will cause you to outbid any other contenders for the keyword until you hit your max. Ads that offer the highest bids get shown, usually in ranking order of bid amount.
  • Agents are not charged their bid amount until someone actually clicks on the ad, hence “pay per click” (PPC).

Benefits of SEM

SEM may seem simple, but it can go surprisingly deep. Data showing who saw what ads and their rate of actually clicking on them (click through rate, or CTR) informs agents about what types of ads perform and which ones flop. One of the only drawbacks of PPC ads and SEM is that they can easily eat through your budget unless strategies are updated regularly based on spend and performance.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Real Estate Agents

Anyone trying to use SEO for real estate agents wants to convince search engine algorithms that their site is the one that should pop up near the top of a search page. Instead of paying and bidding for these rankings, they essentially have to do everything right.

Your SEO strength depends on:

  • The keywords used to write your web pages, including their headlines, title tags and meta descriptions
  • The perceived quality of content on your page, eg whether it is informative or just a bunch of gibberish spam
  • How many quality sites link to your page
  • Your number of business reviews
  • Too many other factors to count!

How SEM Can Help SEO

Basically, SEO involves a ton of different factors and a tiny dash of luck. Even with great SEO, you may not even see your pages perform well because of the queries you chose. This is where SEM comes in. By having access to performance data on which keywords get the most traffic and which types of ad content get the most clicks, you can decide where to ration your SEO efforts keyword-wise.

So, for example, if you see a huge amount of PPC traffic for “single family homes in Burnaby” versus low traffic for “lofts in Downtown Eastside Vancouver,” you know to prioritize keywords for Burnaby on your site. So, in many ways, PPC ads help make SEO stronger! Take advantage of these tools and more by enlisting the help of our real estate agents internet marketing services.

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