Is There a Difference Between SEO and SEM?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can often be confused as the same thing.  Let’s take a look at both options and understand how they are very different but go hand in hand when building a solid business online.

Search Engine OptimizationSearch Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO definitely comes first.  Since the purpose of SEO is to make the site better for both search engines and users, SEO is your foundation.  If you are going to spend additional money to market your site with advertising and paid placements, you need a good keyword base, optimized landing pages, and a well-structured website for funneling customers.  SEO also improves your search engine ranking for keywords to help cover the organic or non-paid search engine results.  SEO is not immediate.  Optimizing your website will help you build quality, organic (non-paid) traffic over time.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is a broad term that includes SEO as a tactic within it — you have to research effective keywords and provide landing page targets in order to benefit from your marketing campaigns.  Before tackling SEM, your website pages have to be well-written and structured to capture your target market.  With SEM, a business pays to be included on advertiser websites, or with Pay-Per-Click (PPC), and even social networks like Facebook.  SEM also includes banner advertising on authority or niche related sites for either a monthly fee or pay-per-click rate.  SEM produces immediate results and is dependent on your advertising budget.  The more you spend the more traffic you get.

The goal is to develop a digital marketing strategy to maximize the amount of relevant and qualified traffic to your web site while keeping within your marketing budget.  SEO and SEM combined can help you reach your goals quicker and begin converting qualified traffic into interested customers.