The difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO)and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can be a confusing concept. Is there really a difference between them?
Often we hear both terms used interchangeably, which makes this predicament worse. Knowing the difference between SEM and SEO is important to help you decide which is best for your business.
What is the difference between SEO and SEM?
SEO involves increasing the amount of website traffic by getting the site to appear high on results that are returned by a search engine. SEM is an internet market practice that increases website visibility through paid advertising. Up until recently, SEM was sometimes viewed as an all-encompassing umbrella with SEO being part of it. But we now define SEM strictly as the art of gaining visitors through paid advertising (and SEO as the practice of gaining visitors organically).
In this post, we will walk you through the main differences between SEO and SEM.
The industry and art form of SEO is an evolving practice that has many moving parts. SEO must keep up with the ever-changing search engine algorithms, as well as constantly monitor website performance. But one thing that remains constant in SEO is the optimization of both on-page and off-page as well as technical SEO in order to help organic search visibility. Basically, SEO is about helping search engines find your website so they can display it in the search results. The goal of SEO is to make sure your website ranks high in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages).
SEO now days is all about creating quality content and seeking to answer a user’s question or need. Using spammy or black hat tactics will not only fail, but it could also ultimately hurt your business’s reputation and brand equity.
SEM strictly involves earning search visibility through paid advertising on a search engine, like Google.
The advertisements themselves are often referred to as PPC (pay-per-click) ads, but can sometimes be called CPC (cost-per-click) ads, paid search, or paid advertising.
Paid Ads allow you to target potential customers through relevant ad copy and keywords that match their search queries. These ads show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs) above or next to organic listings.
So which one is better?
There are arguments from either industry on which one is the better choice, but we like to recommend using the two together in a cohesive marketing strategy. Think of high-quality SEO as the framework for high-quality SEM. Without quality content and web pages that are optimized for search, your SEM campaign will fall completely flat due to low a low-quality score.
There is an exception, which is if you’ve just launched your website, creating a high-quality PPC campaign will create instant search visibility and organic credibility. What we would not recommend is strictly relying on SEM to get all of your online search visibility long-term and completely ignoring organic SEO. Using a combination of both SEO and SEM can be a helpful and successful online marketing strategy that will help drive customers to your website.
Now that you know the difference between the two, use this knowledge to help evaluate which practice would be the best for your business’s bottoms line.
As always, we are here to help you through every step of the way. Give us a call today!