What Exactly Is the Difference Between SEO and SEM?

difference between seo and sem search engine optimization vs ppc marketing

A whopping 93 percent of online experiences start with a search engine. Do you want your business to succeed online? If so, it's essential that you utilize both SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) tactics to increase your reach. 

For those who are unsure about the difference between SEO and SEM, keep reading. Everything you need to know about SEO vs SEM is outlined below. 

What Is SEO? 

SEO is short for search engine optimization. It involves a variety of practices that help to improve your business's ranking on search engine results pages (also known as SERPs). 

The following are some of the most popular and effective SEO techniques a business might use to boost their ranking and drive more traffic to their site: 

• Keyword optimization 
• Internal and external linking 
• Content creation (such as blogging) 

You can also optimize your website for search engines by improving certain technical aspects. This includes increasing page load speeds and improving website security. 

What Is SEM? 

Search engine marketing involves the use of paid advertisements that will appear on SERPs. 

An advertiser will bid on a specific keyword that a shopper might use when they're searching online for a specific product. If you're a successful bidder, ads for your products to show up at the top of the SERP alongside other results for that particular search term. 

Paid ads like Google Ads PPC marketing can come in a variety of styles. Some are text-based, for example, and others are visual and include an image of a particular product with prices and star ratings listed below. 

SEO vs SEM: Which Is Better? 

One of the greatest advantages SEO provides is the fact that many SEO techniques are free to implement. You don't have to invest a certain amount of money to optimize your site for specific keywords or to write blog posts, for example. 

There are tons of SEO resources available online as well. It's easy to find some great tips that will help you to level up your strategy. 

SEO also helps you to increase brand awareness and get your name out there. This, in turn, will help people to develop an interest in buying what you're selling. 

Some businesses are hesitant about SEM because they worry about seeing a return on their investment. Paid search ads can be a gamble, but they often provide significant returns. This has to do, in part, with the fact that they help you to secure a top spot on SERPs, which also increases the likelihood that people will want to buy your product. 

SEM allows you more control when it comes to crafting ad copy, too. With paid ads, it's much easier to start targeting specific segments of your audience. 

You Know the Difference Between SEO and SEM: Now What? 

If you had trouble understanding the difference between SEO and SEM before, hopefully, you're now seeing things a little more clearly. Both SEO and SEM are important if you want to increase your reach online and grow your business. 

Keep this information in mind as you start planning your online marketing strategy. If you want to develop a deeper understanding of the SEM vs SEO debate, or if you want to learn more about improving your business's online presence, visit the SEO or Digital Marketing sections of our site today.

Bootstrap Business Blog Newest Posts From Mike Schiemer, Partners, & Blog Outreach Services