The Dogwood Media Solutions Podcast

#002 - SEO vs. SEM?

January 17, 2023 Dogwood Media Solutions, LLC Season 1 Episode 2
#002 - SEO vs. SEM?
The Dogwood Media Solutions Podcast
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The Dogwood Media Solutions Podcast
#002 - SEO vs. SEM?
Jan 17, 2023 Season 1 Episode 2
Dogwood Media Solutions, LLC

On our second episode of the Dogwood Media Solutions podcast, Lauren Cumbie takes a turn in the host chair as she talks to our SEO specialist Beth Gillem. If the terms SEO and SEM are foreign to you or even if they are familiar and you just want some clarity on the differences, this is the episode for you.

Beth breaks down all the differences and makes it easy to understand for learners at all levels.

There's sure to be some laughter too, so tune into episode 2!


Learn more about Dogwood at At our site, you can learn more about our staff, and the services we offer. Don't forget to check out our blog full of information while you are there. You'll also find links where you can follow us on social media and become an insider to really see what it's like at Dogwood.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

On our second episode of the Dogwood Media Solutions podcast, Lauren Cumbie takes a turn in the host chair as she talks to our SEO specialist Beth Gillem. If the terms SEO and SEM are foreign to you or even if they are familiar and you just want some clarity on the differences, this is the episode for you.

Beth breaks down all the differences and makes it easy to understand for learners at all levels.

There's sure to be some laughter too, so tune into episode 2!


Learn more about Dogwood at At our site, you can learn more about our staff, and the services we offer. Don't forget to check out our blog full of information while you are there. You'll also find links where you can follow us on social media and become an insider to really see what it's like at Dogwood.

Lauren (00:00):
Hey there. Thanks for tuning in to the Dogwood Media Solutions podcast. I'm your host, Lauren Cumbie, and today we'll be talking with our SEO specialist Beth Gillem, about SEO versus SEM. 

(intro music)

Hi, and welcome to the Dogwood Media Solutions podcast. I'm Lauren Cumbie, one of your hosts, and today I have Beth Gillem with me, and she is here with us for episode two. I am so excited to be in the same room with you and not be over zoom.

Beth (00:31):
Amen. Lauren. Like it. For those that don't know, I'm, I'm a remote employee for Dogwood. I started out here in town and then our family moved up to Northwest Alabama and the Shoals. So we are here in town, um, this weekend and took advantage of that to come in this amazing studio and record this podcast.

Lauren (00:49):
Yeah, we're so excited to have you with us. I know, um, that we, we talk about you a lot in all different kinds of ways on the podcast, so people have probably heard about you before. But, um, so Beth has been a part of Dogwood pretty much since the beginning. She's been with us for about a year and a half now. Um, and her title has changed a lot and her role has changed a lot over the years. Um, so she originally came in to help me with social media and then she kind of started doing blog writing and, um, now she is our SEO specialist. So, um, tell us a little bit about how you, you know, became a part of Dogwood and your connections and ties in with Brian and me and

Beth (01:26):
All right. Well, funny story, but Brian and I met in elementary school at Head Elementary. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> in Montgomery. Now, he was a couple of years older than me. His sister and I were closer in age, so I really knew her. We actually served on Junior Traffic Police together. Um, but Brian's mom and I and my mother were both on the pta, so that was our first initial meeting. But, so I kind of knew who he was and he knew who I was growing him after that. And then we lived in the same neighborhood, um, when he started Dogwood. Um, actually before we moved out there to that neighborhood, Brian was in the neighborhood walking and he waved to me and I waved to him. And, um, but we were sitting outside one day and, um, he said, Hey, we're looking for a part-time person for Dogwood. Let me know if you know anybody. And since my youngest child was starting kindergarten, I thought maybe I'm interested, which looking back was kind of crazy cuz I, this is not, was not my field, you know? Um, um, yeah,

Lauren (02:21):
You're degrees in, in biology, right?

Beth (02:23):
Yes. I, and I love my degree. I have a degree in science, uh, from Faulkner University here, and I loved it. Um, but this has made a lot of sense to me and I like people, I like communicating. My parents used to call me Mouth of the South <laugh>, so it has worked out well. Good,

Lauren (02:41):
Good. Yeah. Um, and I remember when, when you first like came on, I remember Brian saying like, you know, Beth, and I was like, yes, I know Beth. Um, because obviously you and me know this, but everybody else doesn't. I've known you pretty much my whole life because I mean, your dad was my pastor and you went to Eastmont and I went to Eastmont, and you know, the Northcuts are kind of famous around here, so <laugh> Yes. No, we had known each other for a while. Um, but Bri I remember Brian asking me like, are you gonna be okay? Like, working together? Like, I know you're young. And I was like, yeah, like, I think we're good. Like I, I mean, I, I know Beth well enough that like, she's not the kind of person that's gonna be like sassy about me being a young person.

Beth (03:21):
<laugh>, believe me, I recognized your level of expertise over me in this <laugh>. And so there was no way I was gonna have any issue with learning or listening or taking direction from me. So, yeah.

Lauren (03:32):
Well, and it helped that the company was so new that like, I mean, I feel like I was learning just as much as anybody else. So there wasn't really any sort of like weirdness about no who knew the most or whatever. I feel like we all just have grown and learned with each other as the company has grown, which is really cool.

Beth (03:49):

Lauren (03:50):
Um, but so today we are going to be talking with our SEO guru, um, about SEO and S e m, what that means, why it's important, um, and why you should be, you know, having a good strategy for your SEO and your s e m and all that kind of good stuff. So, um, to start out, Beth, what is seo?

Beth (04:12):
Okay. Um, I feel like I do a really good job of taking something that can be very technical mm-hmm. <affirmative> and making it very simple, um, to where anyone dis regardless of your background can understand. So that's what I'm gonna do with seo Right now, SEO stands for search Engine Optimization, and when someone asks me what I do, I say, I make sure that your website shows up on Google. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that is the simplest thing. Okay. But basically what it does is search engine optimization takes the content on your webpages, on your web, your blog post, even your videos, um, any content that you have shared out there, you know, through your website and puts it in a language that search engines can understand. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. So every six weeks, every month, Google and other search engines will scan all the content on your website so they can read what you write, but to better understand exactly what your content is about, there are things that you can optimize as in search engine optimization so that the search engines really know this is what this content is answering, this is what this content is about. And then the, when those things are optimized, they can then show that content, um, to search queries your audience who is looking for you. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, kind of the gist of it there.

Lauren (05:41):
Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Um, in the blog, you talked about two main parts of SEO being on page SEO and then link building. So what are those, why are they important?

Beth (05:53):
Okay, so the, the two main parts of SEO o um, like Lauren said, we have on page seo, which is the work done on each backend or page of your website or PO blog posts that you have. Now, some of this is incorporated into the content that you write, but some of it are totally behind the scenes things. Um, and the second is link building. I'll get into that in a minute, but the way I explain on page SEO is think for a minute about the last time that you walked into a brick and mortar store or an office. Okay. A professional office. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, when you walk in, there are things that you immediately notice or maybe don't notice or notice if they're not working, but is the air conditioner running or the heat on? Are the lights working? Is it clean? Are there, is there signage to show you where you need to go or where you can find what you need to find?

Um, all of these things are what make a business, I believe, a good place to visit. Yeah. Like, it makes customers want to come back. Well, in the website world, um, those similar things are what draw search engines to, uh, to choose to show your website higher in search engine rankings mm-hmm. <affirmative> Okay. And results. So for example, when they visit your website, does it load quickly or is it slow? And are there any errors? Are they getting, uh, broken links or 4 0 4 errors? Are they getting all these, you know, is it cumbersome for them to navigate? Can they find what they're looking for? Um, another big aspect of Oned SEO is what we call alternative text. A, uh, regular visitors website will never notice this, but if a, a visitor uses a low vision, uh, screen reader, alternative texts will describe to them what your photos are about.

And this is a big deal for seo. They wanna make sure that everybody, the, the, the internet is available for everyone. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So these little things, um, along with designating your content, do you remember that navigation? Like if you walk into a store mm-hmm. <affirmative>, can you figure out the signage? Right. Headings on OnPage SEO are what, um, what search engines look for to say, what is this content about? And when I do headings, I think, what's the main idea of my content? Right. You know, and, and that gets into your keyword and I, I'm gonna go into this a lot more in depth in in future podcast, but your on page SEO basically is making sure it's working right. Identifying your headers, repeating your keyword. You have a good meta description, um, that repeats your keyword. Um, and, um, and, and is the alt text included for any photos or images on your site? So that's the on page portion of seo. Yeah.

Lauren (08:41):
And last week we talked about that a little bit with, um, we talked about the three tips for showing up on, on Google. Yes. And, um, that was one of the things that we talked about was how SEO is one of those things that when you tell people what it is, it's really not that complicated, it's just knowing what to do. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and so many people don't realize that these are simple things that you can be implementing into your content when you're writing your blogs or you're making new pages or whatever, you just have to know to do it. And it makes such a big difference over the long run.

Beth (09:11):
Exactly. The second part of SEO is what we call link building. Sometimes they call it offsite seo. Um, and in the website world, um, link building means that you are vouching for another website, giving it credibility. Just as if I walked into the office and said, Hey, where can I get a good cup of coffee? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, chances are someone could recommend somewhere nearby where I could go pick up a good, you're recommending, hey, you should go to this place. Well, on the website world, you recommend a website by linking to it, right. Um, sharing a link whether, and, and I don't mean, uh, sharing it on social media, I mean actually copying the URL and embedding it, putting it in your own content saying go to this site or learn more here. So this link building, um, uh, the, the more links to your website from others gives more trust in the eyes of search engines.

And so they say, oh, okay, when, when so many are linking to it, then this must be a credible site. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, therefore, I will reward that site by showing it higher in search engine rankings. Right. Now, there are ways you can go and buy links and highly discourage this esk. Yes. It, it doesn't matter. It, it's not so much how many links you have pointing to your website, but the quality of those links to mm-hmm. <affirmative>, to me, link building is one of the harder aspects of seo because it is a relationship thing. Right. You have to, to, um, to begin this process, really reach out to other business owners and say, Hey, can I guess post for you? Can we exchange links or go back and say, Hey, you mentioned my, my business in your blog poster, would you mind hyperlinking it mm-hmm. <affirmative> and giving me a link.

So it's, and and that's hard sometimes when they're a client for me and I'm not, you know, it's easier for me for Dogwood go to, to go out and say, Hey, you should link to this blog and share this content. But, um, so that's where the relationship part comes in. Yeah. For, for that part. Uh, but ba but really if you can do anything with seo, start those on page s uh, optimizations. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> in your content. Identify your keyword. What's the main idea? What are people searching for? Well, let, have I answered that question? Let's make sure the search engines know that I'm giving you the answer to that question. Right.

Lauren (11:27):
Yeah. That link building stuff is, I mean, we've even struggled with that trying to figure out how to do that in the best way for us. Cuz the places that are most likely to be talking about something similar that we would be able to be an expert in are probably our competitors

Beth (11:42):
<laugh>. Exactly. Now, anytime when we link out within our content, I make sure that this is an, um, obviously not a competitor Right. But an organic link mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think Okay. As you're reading this content, what would be the ne next step that someone would, might wanna learn more about that content? Right. So I like to link out to professional organizations, um, a associations or educational associations, but definitely not a competitor. Yeah. That would make zero sense <laugh>. Right.

Lauren (12:11):
Exactly. All right. So that is basically SEO in a nutshell. But what is s e m? They sound very similar. They

Beth (12:19):
Do. Okay. So SEO is search engine optimization. S e m is search engine marketing. Now some used to say these are all fall, both are under the same umbrella of s e m, but to me they're very, very different. Okay. Um, now seo, remember, and I know y'all talked about this in the last week's podcast, but that SEO is a long ga long game. Okay. If you, you can't optimize things in a day or, and expect your rankings to increase that month. Right? Right. I mean, three month mark you might see some uptick, but really the six month mark is a good way to gauge how these things are working. Now s scms totally different mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. Because what those keywords that we mentioned, keyword is what is someone searching for? Um, if I'm searching for a dog food, you know, and I may put in best dog food, that's a key word.

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. So with search engine marketing, you can purchase those keywords to show up at the top of the page for search engine rankings as an ad. Okay. Uh, whereas search engine optimization, you will not have that ad it's organic growth. So technically it's free. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, of course, depending if you do the work, it's different if you pay someone to do the work Right. For you. But whereas search engine marketing, you are paying for that keyword mm-hmm. <affirmative> to show up first on the page or you are, um, an seo, it is gonna be organic and show up hopefully on page one underneath those ads. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So both have that same goal of showing up higher and search result results. They both need to have some keyword research to find out what people are searching for. Um, but search engine marketing's the quick game. Let's get to the top of the page. Now, search engine optimization is gonna be a longer game, but once you're there, you may stay there.

Lauren (14:08):
Right. Yeah. And the, the strategies different for, for both of them. I mean, like you said, SEO and takes a a lot of thought and a lot of, you know, making sure you're staying up with it cuz I mean, you can't do it for one month and then disappear for a year and wonder why you're not showing up on Google. Whereas with s e m, I mean you might buy an ad that day and all of a sudden you're showing up for people top of page. So it's just a different way to think about, you know, how to show up in those searches. Same results hopefully at, in the end. But, uh, just different ways of getting there. So we know that we would say that both of these are important, but if you're a listener and you only have so much money to go around or you only have so much time, which one of these do you think would be what they should focus on? Or how should they figure out which one to focus on

Beth (14:58):
First? Okay, this is a great question because one of the reasons I put this blog together was because that was exactly what our clients are asking us. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. So yeah, you have s e o, you have s e and which one should I do? So here is how I help them kind of problem solve or make that decision. So first of all, let's ask yourself, do I need to show up quickly on search results to hopefully have more clicks and then conversions? Okay. So if you want to get to the top of the page quickly, s e m mm-hmm. <affirmative>, definitely purchase those keywords, get your, your ad up there. Now know that when you stop paying for that keyword <laugh> right, you're not gonna still be on the top of the page. Right. Very unlikely that you would be, but um, you know, we had a client saying, Hey, next year I've got an event every three months mm-hmm. <affirmative>

And I need to fill spots for this event. So in that sense, search engine marketing is the perfect choice, right? To have those Google adss to pay for that event, um, promotion. So the second question, do I have time to devote to the long game and establish a strong organic presence in shirt in search? So if the answer that is yes, then of course SEO's gonna be a greater, greater choice for that because once you put the time and effort into building that o optimizing and building that content around keywords and you begin ranking higher, usually you stay pretty high. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> up there for a long time. Some of my clients have been there, uh, uh, you know, when we even took over, I saw, okay, while they're ranking very well for these keywords and they have been for three plus years right. Without any changes really.

Mm-hmm. <affirmative> to that, we did some minor tweaking and updating, just refreshing. But, um, once you gain that momentum, you usually hold it mm-hmm. <affirmative> and you're not doing anything else. So it's not like it ends when you stop paying for it. Right. Okay. So the next one does my site contain quality content with pertinent keywords. So if you are, um, churning out lots of good content blog post, or you really put some detailed work into the content, um, then SEO may be a great choice for you because with just a few tweaks on that optimizing, you may see some great, great results. Um, so the second one, do I, another question, do I consistently share blog content? Well, if yes, then SEO again may be a better choice for you. Um, because of that good content that you're constantly sharing with, with blogging, you have a wide world of all the different keywords that people are putting in.

So you have the chance of reaching such a vast audience mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, which is one of the reasons we love blog writing here at Dogwood. Right. Okay, next question. Do I have money budgeted for a monthly ad spend? Okay. Look at your budget. Do you have money for to spend and put towards search engine marketing? If yes, you can apply that money to search to your s e m work and get on the top of the page. The thing about being at the top of the page with search engine marketing is that they may not get as many clicks to begin with mm-hmm. <affirmative> as a, as a natural organic listing, but the people that click on it are ready to buy Right. Or ready to take action. And so conversions happen more often. Okay. Two more questions. Ask yourself, do I have a strong working knowledge of the demographics of my target audience?

Okay, now we can go down a rabbit hole with this for a long time, but anytime you are setting up any kind of ad work, we wanna know our target audience, right? Don't we learn? Yeah. Like a and, and there are so many ways you can narrow that audience down. Um, but you first have to know who is my ideal customer? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, what do, what do my customers look like? Who are my repeat buyers or who, who is my target audience that I want to know about this? Okay. Um, so if you know who your target audience is, the demographics of them, then search engine marketing may be a better choice because of those targeting things. You know, these, uh, these s e m uh, tools can pick those people out, right? So if you're only showing your ads to people that would appreciate them, they're much more likely to click. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. Uh, final question. Do I have both the time to optimize my website or the money to pay some money to do it? <laugh>. Okay. Um, and the money to spend on paid digital advertising. Well then, yeah, guys, you can have the best of both worlds with your SEO long game happening, but also your immediate search engine marketing at the top of the page. Yeah,

Lauren (19:40):
They're both just so important. I mean, I completely understand, especially with our clients come in and asking us, like, you just don't always have money to do all of the things. And so I understand wanting to pick one or the other, but if you have the ability to do both, there's really no, no better option than to really take advantage of both options and really be able to focus in and on what you're doing and be able to reach the most amount of people and just cover all your bases. Uh, that's definitely what we try to encourage folks to do. Um, so yeah, that's the basically the basics of SEO and s e m. Um, I hope that this was a helpful conversation for all of you. Um, or at the very least just help you to understand a little bit more of what all these crazy acronyms mean. Um, so I just wanted to thank you so much for being our guest today. We're so happy to have you back in the, uh, back in the office, um, and can't wait to have you back on for another episode.

Beth (20:38):
Yep. Looking forward to

Lauren (20:40):
It. Uh, next week Brian will be back as your host and he will be talking to one of our marketing strategists, Sarah Kate. Um, and y'all will be talking about how to grow your Instagram audience. That is a question that we get all the time, so that will definitely be a good one to tune into. Um, if you like hearing, I like what you're hearing and you want to head on over to our website, dogwood media, you can check out the other blogs that we've written. We have tons of things from the four years that we've been around that you can check out. You can also go back and listen to our other podcast. Right now there's only two, but as time goes on, there will be a lot more. So you can go check those out. And also, if you're wanting to connect with us, you can also head over to our website. That's the best way to get in contact with us, whether through the website or social media, or give us a call. Um, we would love to talk to you and find out a way that we can partner with you for your marketing needs. And if you have not already, please subscribe to the podcast, give it a review. That really helps us a lot. Um, and thanks for tuning in to the Dogwood Media Solutions podcast. And until next time, happy marketing.

What is SEO?
On-Page SEO
Link Building
What is SEM?
Which is the Better Choice?