Differences Between SEO and SEM

Face Off: Difference Between SEO and SEM

If you are a business owner, you have probably considered using the internet to expand your business. The internet is filled with marketing techniques designed to enhance brand awareness and visibility. Two of the most popular marketing techniques are the Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing. Sometimes, acronyms SEO and SEM are used interchangeably. If you are not familiar with each of them, it is difficult to find out their differences. SEO is the optimization of search engines, while SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. They both have the same goals, but they work differently. When referring to the SEO, webmaster makes a friendly search engine page. But if the webmaster creates a page with the purpose of optimizing the URL for search engines to reach the top position, this is SEM.


What Are the Main Differences Between SEO and SEM?

#1 As to Their Definitions

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the method of improving the site’s visibility in search engines through algorithmic or organic search results. Basically speaking, SEO is the process of changing the content and structure of your web and building links to your site. The purpose is to appear on the Google’s first page in search results.

Search Engine Marketing or SEM is a species of Internet marketing. It seeks to promote pages by increasing their visibility or online presence in search engine result pages through the use of SEO techniques, contextual advertising, paid placement, and paid inclusion. Therefore, search engine optimization is only a component of search engine marketing.

#2 As to Their Techniques

SEO involves a series of practices and ‘White Hat’ techniques that are used by producers and webmasters to boost the rankings. It involves creating and publishing high quality and relevant content for target consumers, using social media links, using right keywords and keyword analysis, link building activity, and improving the website’s navigation to provide the best user experience.

Unlike Search Engine Optimization, Search engine marketing is much broader. All techniques and strategies that make use of search engine like paid ads are already covered in SEM. Therefore, SEO is a part of SEM. When it comes to online business, most business owners will exhaust their money, time, and resources for SEO. However, their efforts fall short because they failed to follow the right digital strategies like search engine marketing.

#3 As to Their Focus

Traditionally speaking, Search Engine Optimization is connected with the page elements. It focuses on making their websites friendly to search engines as much as possible. This includes fixing orphan pages and broken links, and false leads. It also examines their website contents to ensure that correct tags such as CSS, Meta, and Alt Tags of the images are used. It may even assess and evaluate the keyword weight and research to ensure that the pages are effective.

About Search Engine Marketing, things are little different. It focuses more on the page. It deals more with contextual advertising and paid placement to enhance online visibility. It also focuses on the article marketing, social bookmarking, search engine submissions and article submission directories. The purpose is to attract more links and increase index and page rank.

#4 As to Their Components

SEO covers two different activities. The first one is On-Page SEO and the second one is Off-Page SEO. On-Page SEO is the process or action designed to optimize the website by incorporating a particular keyword naturally into meta descriptions, title tags, alt text, heading tags, etc. It also involves optimizing the page load speed, clean and formatting the page URLs, social sharing integration in your content, Google authorship incorporated, page copy and blog posts that is optimized and written with quality. The goal is to ensure a higher ranking on various search engines.

Off-page SEO is an integral part of search engine rankings because it displays how authoritative your site is on the online world. Unlike On-Page, this is a long-term process. Therefore, it requires the implementation of steps to produce favorable results. This involves creating a natural and high-quality backlink, guest blogging, social bookmarking such as Reddit or Stumbleupon, and social sharing signals.

Components of SEM are paid listings and the use of paid search like pay per click listings and advertisements. It also covers other search-engine related services and functions that increase traffic to your website. In some cases, SEM strictly covers PPC activities and campaigns, but if you incorporate paid search and SEO, that would still fall under the SEM category. The acts connected with planning, researching, positioning, and submitting a website within the search engines is also a part of SEM.

SEO v SEM: Which Is Better?

Up to this date, marketers argue as to which one is better than the other. Inbound Marketers would agree that organic SEO works better. As you can see, SEM will not succeed without organic SEO. However, there are circumstances where PPC, a part of SEM, works better than SEO. This happens if you are a beginner and you are launching a site. You want immediate visibility, and it is a good idea to choose PPC campaign since it takes lesser time than SEO.

If you want to be successful in your venture, you should not strictly implement PPC alone and ignore the search engine optimization. Even though it takes longer to see the results with organic SEO, it is still less expensive in the end. Both SEO and SEM work well. In fact, it is recommended to use these two marketing strategies to enjoy the utmost benefits. Your efforts should concentrate both on SEO and SEM since their benefits include increased clicks and conversion rates.

If you are a business owner taking advantage of the internet, you have probably come across the terms ‘SEM’ and ‘SEO’ frequently. If you are not familiar with them, the confusion begins, thus making you believe that these two services are identical and works the same thing. As soon as you understand the definitions, differences, and similarities between search engine optimization and search engine marketing, allocating resources to provide an innovative edge over your competitors would be easy.

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