SEO vs. SEM (Short & Sweet)


Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are two notions that a lot of people seem to be confused about. And that’s mostly because their abbreviations, SEO and SEM are very similar. That being said, these are different topics and while they have some similarities, they are also quite different. You can see that below.

What is SEO?

SEO is a part of SEM, and it’s a process that allows you to optimize your website in order to maximize the number of visitors you receive. You will have to understand the search engine ranking requirements and modify your website/create content that will help you rank higher. The better you rank in search engines, the more traffic you will get and the more it will help you establish your brand’s authority.

There are two main SEO activities, on-page SEO and off-page SEO. The off-page SEO is all about creating natural backlink profiles, social sharing signals, social bookmarking and everything similar that doesn’t require you to make changes to your website directly.

In the case of on-page SEO, you will have stuff like improving website speed, Google authorship, improving the website structure, adding a robots.txt file, researching and using keywords in all your content, formatting the URLs adequately, optimizing meta descriptions, heading tags, title tags, alt texts and so on. Simply put, this includes all changes you will make to your website in order to rank higher and faster than ever before.

SEO tools you can use for optimizing your website:

What is SEM?

SEM is an internet marketing method that allows you to promote your website by optimizing and advertising it in the online world. SEM includes SEO tactics, but it also has search marketing tactics too. Aside from SEO, here you will have the use of paid search, mostly PPC advertisements and listings. You can only use paid ads and that will still be considered SEM, but if you opt for SEO, then that falls under search engine marketing as well. Social media marketing is also a part of SEM as well.


What is the main difference between SEM and SEO?

As you can see above, SEO is a part of SEM, not the other way around. SEM is a complex approach towards advertising your website online. And it involves paid ads and the use of social media too, not only natural ranking via search engine optimization.

One thing is certain, if you want to boost your website’s exposure online you will have to try and optimize your website for search engines at first. The challenge here is that SEO does take a bit of time for results to come by. That being said, if you’re just starting your website and you want traffic right away, SEM is a lot better because you can pay for traffic and that can help you generate sales without having to wait for SEO results to kick in. Either way, both of them are important for any business. You just have to figure out what technique to use based on your business plan!



SEO vs SEM - Infographics
SEO vs SEM – Infographics