Difference Between SEO vs SEM Explained?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - SEM

The main difference is that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is focused on optimising a website in order to obtain traffic from organic search results. Conversely, the goal of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is to get traffic and visibility from both organic as well as paid search traffic.

How does search engine optimisation work?

SEO’ is an acronym which stands for search engine optimisation. This is the process of optimising your website to get organic, or un-paid, traffic from the search engine results page. The process of SEO involves making certain changes to your website design – as well as content – in order make your website more appealing to a search engine. You do this in hopes that search engines such as Google will display your website as one of the top results which are displayed on the search engine results page (SERP).

How does search engine marketing work?

‘SEM’, which stands for search engine marketing, is the act of utilising paid strategies in order to increase search visibility. In the past, SEM was a term that was used to describe both SEO and paid search. However, now it almost always refers only to paid search marketing.

With SEM, brands pay for adverts to appear as search results on SERPs. Brands target select keywords so that when a user searches for those terms, they see an advert from the brand. The brand is only charged if a user physically clicks on the ad.

Paid search ads can be found on nearly all search results pages. These paid placements are usually located at the top and bottom of the page. They include an “Ad” designation in order to let users know that it is a paid placement.

What are the similarities between SEO and SEM?

There are a number of similarities between SEO and SEM. These are the following:

  • SEO and SEM help to grow a website and improve traffic on it.
  • SEO and SEM help brands to appear in the search result.
  • Website owners require knowing their audience to use both SEO and SEM.
  • They both require regular testing and proper optimisation to stay on top.
  • They both target specific audiences for specific keywords.

SEO and SEM both rely heavily on keywords in order to drive traffic to business websites and web pages. Though the marketing techniques utilised for each are different, they are both focused on traffic flows as well as how these relate to marketing activities. Individuals will utilise search engines in order to search for something which they’re looking for. They’ll have the ability to find it by the organic results (SEO) or by the paid results (SEM).

Most individuals search online before buying anything so having a strong presence in search is vital and making use of a strategic combination of both can up your visibility in the longer term.  SEO is for organic traffic – which is unpaid or free – and SEM is for targeted ads which you pay for. These two processes can be complementary however only if the website itself is SEO-friendly first, then SEM has a greater chance of ultimately being successful.

What is the difference between search engine optimisation and search engine marketing?

SEO and SEM are – in actual fact – two sides of the same coin, however they consist of very different actions and also relate to different facets of marketing. At times the two terms are used together to reference a similar set of activities, which can be quite baffling for those of us who aren’t as familiar with this world. Any digital marketing professional should have a solid grasp on these two terms and understand their importance in the marketing arena.

Get in touch with the Digital School of Marketing

If you are keen on learning more about SEO then you need to do our SEO and Web Analytics Course. Find out more by following this link.

DSM digital School of Marketing- SEO and Web Analytics