what is the difference between seo and sem

What Is The Difference Between SEO And SEM?

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    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    Wondering what is the difference between SEO and SEM? Well, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising your website to enable it to rank well in the organic search results. Whereas Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the different marketing methods available to get you more traffic from search engines as a whole.

    What Is SEO And SEM?

    SEO is part of SEM. However, where SEO aims to help with organic positioning, SEM covers organic positions and sponsored positions (e.g. Google Ads) and any other online marketing that can get you increased visibility in a search engine.

    Search Engine Optimisation

    I won’t go into detail about what SEO is in this article. If you want to read more about what SEO is and why it is important for your business, take a look at this post which explains this topic at great length: How Long Does It Take For SEO To Work.

    This post also gives a super cool infographic that shows all the different places your business can up in search results, so well worth a quick look.

    However, to summarise the question of what is SEO for the sake of this post, it is the process of optimising your website for the purpose of getting free traffic from search engines.

    A website that is well optimised is more likely to climb the ranks of the search engines faster, as it helps to make the website more accessible to their crawlers.

    There are also off-site factors, such as obtaining backlinks, that helps with SEO by increasing the overall domain authority of the website.

    However, no matter what methods are being used, the overall goal is the same; to improve the rankings and traffic from organic search results.

    Search Engine Marketing

    SEM goes into greater depth than SEO, although it should still only be a part of your overall online marketing strategy.

    A complete online marketing strategy, which is what our SEO packages cover, should include aspects such as:

    • Search Engine Marketing – organic positioning (SEO) and sponsored positioning (PPC) in search engines.
    • Social Media Marketing – obtaining a good brand reputation across all social channels in your industry.
    • Mobile Marketing – you may decide to market your products or services via mobile applications.
    • Video Marketing – using channels like YouTube to build a strong visual presence for your brand.

    So, when it comes to SEM, it is the process of getting any and all traffic from a search engine, whether it be free or paid traffic.

    The most popular way of obtaining paid traffic is through Google Ads. This involves creating adverts that can be placed within the sponsored area of the search results. Then, once someone clicks on your advert, you get charged on a pay-per-click basis.

    Why Is Search Engine Marketing Important?

    So, now we have answered the questions of what is SEO and SEM, and what is the difference between SEO and SEM, why is SEM important for your business?

    Well, SEM is one of the best marketing methods available for any business, no matter what industry you work in. The reason for its success is down to the fact that it is the most targeted form of marketing available.

    Where the more traditional marketing methods, like business cards and flyers, may bring traffic to your site, it isn’t fully measurable. You don’t really know who is looking at that card or flyer and if anyone actually used it to visit your website, let alone make a purchase.

    However, with search engines and some reliable website analytics software, it is possible to not just see how many people are viewing your site, but you can also find out things like:

    • The keywords people are typing into search results to find your website.
    • The pages they land on, once clicking on your site in the search results.
    • The funnel that person goes down, whilst navigating around your site.
    • Whether that visitor led to a conversion on your site before they left.

    By uncovering this data, it allows you to make more informed marketing decisions, which ultimately leads to a better return from your marketing spend.

    About the author

    Michael is the founder and managing director of Improve Position with a strong background in both web development and technical SEO. His enthusiasm shines through with his passion to help others understand and succeed in the world of online business marketing.

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