What Is The Difference Between SEO and SEM?

what is the difference between seo and sem google adwords search engine optimization marketing

Recent studies found that 89% of customers start their purchases with a search. Getting your website high on search engine rankings is the difference between these customers finding your business or going elsewhere. Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) can literally make or break or your business these days.

Aaron from My Direct Blinds highlights how much his business has benefited from dollar spend on SEO & SEM. It's paramount you select an agency that knows how to handle these aspects. Everyone advertises that they are the best at what they do, but many are gassing themselves up. Look for real world results, look at their clients. Look at their own website, see if it ranks in google for their own search terms. Grab an Ahrefs trial and take a look if their website is receiving any traffic or if it's a waste land? For our window blinds business, we went through several of these time waster agencies, until we found one that knows what they're doing. The results have been great so far. Every dollar spent on SEO is like building your house for the future. SEM can be a tricky beast, make sure you have a competitive advantage if you are going to venture into using ads. Your product must be able to be priced well enough to be lower than your competitors, or offer something they aren't. If you're just a drop shipper and can't get some sort of advantage that way, just stick to SEO."

If you want to get found on search engines, SEO and SEM tactics truly are the solutions you need. Which one works best really depends on your business and budget.

But, both terms seem to get used interchangeably and it can be confusing to understand what they are, how they work and how to use them to your advantage. 

Let’s change that. 

What Are SEO And SEM? 

Firstly, you need to understand the difference between SEO and SEM marketing. 

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s all about implementing the best practices and tactics on your website to naturally increase the organic ranking of your website on search engines. 

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. It was originally created as an umbrella term to include any marketing tactic that gets your company seen on search engines. 

Over time, SEM has evolved to exclusively refer to PPC (pay-per-click) advertising. 

How SEO Can Benefit Your Business 

SEO is the process of optimising your website to improve your organic search rankings. 

But don’t mistake this as free marketing though. SEO is a long-term strategy to get your business found on search engines. This means it still needs time and investment from your company to make it work. 

Search engines like Google calculate their rankings based on a set of complex algorithms that analyse over 200 factors to determine which result comes out on top. 

Don’t worry - you don’t have to learn this for SEO marketing. In fact, the exact algorithms themselves are a closely guarded secret, which will prevent anyone from tricking the system. 

SEO marketing ensures that your website complies with the general guidelines and factors that these algorithms look out for. For example, this could include having a responsive and mobile-friendly website. 

But, it’s not an exact science and it can take some real time before you can see results. If your industry faces some heavy competition, it will also be harder to get your business through the rankings. 

How SEM Can Get You Instantly Noticed 

SEM and PPC marketing is a way to jump the search engine queue and get your website straight to the top of the results. 

Paid advertising is perfect for those that want to start getting results straight away. It can also increase your sales and conversions, as people who visit your website through a PPC advert are 50% more likely to purchase something than organic visitors

Need a hand with your PPC campaigns? 

Companies like Adzooma are a fantastic way to help get you started. With a team of PPC experts, they’ll build your campaign for you. If you need it, they also offer bespoke web pages for your customers to land on. 

If you want to tackle PPC by yourself - don’t worry. There are countless articles and tips online to help teach you the ways. 

Boost Your Conversions With SEO And SEM Marketing 

Fundamentally, SEO focuses on improving your organic search rankings, while SEM uses PPC advertising to get your website straight to the top. 

Don’t think that you need to choose one tactic over the other. 

SEO and SEM marketing can work hand-in-hand, giving you the tools to get seen on search engines. This means more visitors to your website, more conversions and increased profits for your company.


I hope you enjoyed this blog post about what the difference is between SEO and SEM for Google search engine marketing.

Interested in more articles about SEO, SEM, PPC, and Google AdWords?

Read Related Resources:

How To Improve Your PPC Campaigns Quickly

SEO Best Practices For This Year

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