SEO and SEM: What’s the Difference?

seo and sem

If you work in online marketing, you’re probably quite familiar with search engine optimization (SEO). But have you heard of search engine marketing (SEM)? Many people use these two terms interchangeably, but SEO and SEM are actually quite different.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about SE0 and SEM, including the differences between them, and how you can use each of them to better your business efforts.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is the process of increasing the number of visitors to your website by making sure your site appears higher in search engine results. SEO consists of two different activities: on-page and off-page SEO.

On-page SEO is about optimizing page load speed, integrating social sharing, writing high-quality, relevant content, and incorporating selected keywords into your title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, and more. Off-page SEO involves social bookmarking and creating a natural backlink profile or having other websites link to yours.

There are many great online tools you can use to enhance your SEO efforts. When investing in SEO efforts, you should also learn more about how to increase the security of your website and avoid phishing schemes.

What is SEM?

Search engine marketing is Internet marketing that increases visibility in search engine results pages by promoting a website through optimization and advertising efforts. SEM employs a variety of strategies to accomplish this goal, such as pay per click listings and advertising. SEO is often a facet of a greater search engine marketing strategy.

Here are some examples of successful SEM strategies:

  • Ad campaigns with a specific audience
  • Ad groups based on target keywords
  • Ad copy based on selected keywords

These ads allow business to target potential customers by creating ad copy that matches those people’s search queries. These ads then pop up in the search engine results next to the organic listings. This provides the business with increased visibility for content such as web pages, blog posts, and landing pages.

SEO and SEM: What’s the Difference?

Although people may use SEO and SEM interchangeably, they are not the same thing. Search engine optimization is simply a tactic or strategy of search engine marketing. Like pay-per-click and social media marketing, it is one of many strategies a company can implement to promote their website.

It’s important to know, however, that the definitions of these two terms can differ depending on who you’re talking to. In some instances, search engine marketing refers exclusively to the process of attracting website traffic by purchasing advertisements on search engines. Search engine optimization, on the other hand, is more about getting traffic from free, organic, or natural search results.

SEO and SEM: What’s Better?

Ultimately, both efforts are useful and should be implemented as part of your overall marketing strategy. SEO will help lay the foundation for your SEM efforts by providing the content that customers find helpful. If you don’t SEO optimize your existing web pages and content, your SEM efforts will suffer, and visibility within search engine results pages will be limited.

If you’re just starting out, you may want to start with other SEM efforts to get immediate visibility. A great pay-per-click campaign can help you quickly gain visibility. But no search engine marketing strategy is complete without organic SEO.

Final Thoughts on SEO & SEM

When it comes to SEO and SEM, it’s important to know the differences between the two, and when you should be focusing on SEO efforts as opposed to other elements of SEM. By knowing the nuances between the two, you can create a marketing effort that will increase visibility and drive more people to your website.

Do you understand the differences between the two types of search engine efforts? Do you need help with SEO? Check out our handy SEO glossary!