Improving your search engine ranking is an ongoing process that can take quite a bit of time. If you spend the time to build a website you probably want to leverage it and make it an asset to you, your organization, or your business. The tried and true strategy is to write great content and continually add more great content to it. If you build it they will come – as long as it is good. Unfortunately, most people want to see quick results after spending many hours (or dollars) to build a website. There are many tactics used to generate some quick results. The best plan would have some short term tactics that compliment part of your long term strategy. This will give you a quick jump in the search engines and some motivation to put in the effort to continue to grow your website and improve your search engine rankings.

SEO vs SEM – Some simple definitions:

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the work you do to lead traffic to your site. This is the off-page effort.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the work you do to your site. This is the on-page effort.

See Weberz’s article on SEO and SEM for a little more depth describing the two.

So, is SEO or SEM more important?

The safe answer is “It depends.” However, I believe that SEO will give your more in the long run.

Let’s think about this for a minute. . .

To illustrate this let’s assume you have to choose one or the other. I know it is crazy, but bear with me for a few paragraphs.

What if you spend hours on SEM?

In a future article I will cover each of the SEM items in more detail. A basic SEM plan will include:

  • Search Engine Submission – Submitting your URL to the search engines – At least the top search engines
  • Creating Press Releases – Writing, submitting and publishing Press Releases about your website.
  • Off-Site Article Writing – Writing articles for other websites that reference your website in some way.
  • Blogs – Creating a blog, writing blog entries, and commenting on blogs.
  • A link campaign – Convince or beg other websites to link to your site using either reciprocal links or one-way links.
  • Web Directory Submission – This is part of a link campaign. Add your website to free and paid directories.
  • Purchasing Text Links – Pay a broker to add your links on many different websites.
  • PPC Campaigns – Paid advertising using Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, MSN AdCenter or other search advertising.
  • Banner Advertising – Create a banner and influence others to add it to their site.

It is easy to see how you can spend many hours and a lot of money spreading your links around the internet to increase your google page rank. This will get you results but it won’t last forever.  For example, Press Releases and article writing take time and actually improve other websites. You are adding great content that they will benefit from.

What if you spend hours on SEO?

In a future article I will cover each of the SEO items in more detail. A basic SEO plan will include:

  • W3C Validation, good source code, proper html, etc.
  • Proper naming structure of files for search engines
  • Proper phrasing of the page title
  • Inclusion of a robots.txt file
  • Creation of a sitemap
  • 404 error handling page
  • Meta tags
  • Relevant site copy to page title
  • Site navigational structure
  • Keyword inclusion in your text

If you were to spend the hours to make your website content great you will get to a point where your personal link sharing effort will level out. You’ll spend less time spreading your links around the web since others will do it for you. If you have good content your readers will share it on Facebook, visitors will digg it, subscribers will tweet it on twitter, and much more.

I am not promoting that you just splatter your website all over the web and direct searchers to some junk-infested content. That will work for a short time, but in the long run the good content will always win out.