What’s the Difference Between SEO and SEM?

What’s the Difference Between SEO and SEM?

Besides a letter, there are more differences between SEO and SEM. What are those differences? How different can they really be? All will be answered very soon.

To be frank (but still Chris), these terms are mixed up way too often — I actually used to think that they were the same thing, but using two different words. Turns out I was wrong.

What’s so special about search engine rankings?

Let’s start with a simple understanding of search engine rankings. Essentially, the higher your rankings on certain search engines and the more visible/frequent your website appears on the search engine, the more users will go through to your website, who then have the chance to be converted into customers. Therefore, both SEO and SEM are highly prevalent online marketing disciplines used by almost all businesses worldwide.

So, what the heck are the differences between them? Let’s find out:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The act of improving the visibility of a website or specific web pages’ results on particular search engines through unpaid forms of online advertising. These results are also known as natural, organic, or earned results.

Better SEO rankings can be achieved by editing the website’s content, HTML, or any other coding to increase the prevalence of specific keywords, and remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. You can also increase the number of backlinks (links to your website), and utilise Social media marketing (SMM).

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The act of improving the visibility of a website or specific web pages’ results on particular search engines through paid forms of online advertising and promotion. SEM can work with SEO to achieve a better-combined result.

Because it involves paid forms of advertising, the ways to better improve your search engine rankings via SEM are through Pay per click (PPC), Cost per impression (CPI), Social media marketing (SMM) and the understanding of search analytics and web analytics for keyword research and analysis, amongst other forms. The best thing about SEM channels like Google AdWords is the ability to automate your digital advertising using techniques such as Adwords Scripts tools or other automated optimization software.

Main differences and similarities between SEO and SEM:

The main differences between SEO and SEM, are that SEO deals with unpaid results and requires no money to be spent, whereas SEM deals with paid results that require money to be spent, yet they aren’t necessarily two separate disciplines of marketing.

The main similarity between both SEO and SEM is that they are both trying to achieve higher results in search engines; they are basically just two different ways of achieving the same thing.

SEO is considered to be a stem of SEM, as they can both utilise the same methods of advertising and can both work together to achieve the same goal. They work hand-in-hand but are not the same terms.



  • Jhon Pointing

    Nice content. I was looking for differences between SEO and SEM and I am in right place.