What is the Difference Between SEO and SEM?

SEO vs SEM search keyboard

If you have a website or blog, then you’ve probably heard of the terms SEM and SEO. While they may be a little similar in nature, there are some differences between the two. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is just one part of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which involves a myriad of other methods and strategies like PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising. The goal of both SEO and SEM is to help your website be more visible in search engines, resulting to increased traffic for your site.

Search Engine Optimization 101

To better understand the differences between these two, it is essential that we come to a clear definition of each term. Let’s start with SEO.

Search Engine Optimization, from its own words, is the method of optimizing a site with the objective of driving more traffic to the website. When a website is properly optimized, the search engine systems are able to understand it better. In turn, this gives the site better ranking in the search engine results page or SERP.

Two Kinds of SEO

There are mainly two kinds of SEO that are being today: on-site and off-site SEO.

On-site SEO refers to strategies done on the website or blog. This typically includes formatted URLs, optimized titles & images, good descriptions, proper use of H1 and H2, and more.

Off-site SEO are strategies done outside the website or blog. This process is like an online ranking system where your site’s credibility is judged by the amount of votes or referrals from other websites. To do this, link building is applied.

Search Engine Marketing 101

Search Engine Marketing belongs to a larger part of a system called Internet Marketing, which also covers other strategies like Social Media, Mobile Markets, Mobile and more.

SEM is a marketing process that drives more online visibility by way of free traffic or paid search advertising.

While free traffic can be done through SEO, paid search advertising is also an effective way to rank high in search engine results. Basically, you will be buying this space so your target audience has a higher chance of seeing you.

Google Adwords is a popular method for PSA. This allows your ads to be included in the top pages and you only have to pay per click on your ads, hence the name Pay-Per-Click or PPC.

Is SEM Traffic important?

Yes, SEM traffic is very important because it is targeted towards a specific audience. Typically, people use Google (or other search engines) to look for solutions or answers to their questions.

When these users visit your site, which they most likely got from the search results page, there’s a high probability that they will be interested in the ads you display because it is relevant to what they were searching for. Because of this, SEM traffic creates higher conversions than any other sources including Facebook and Twitter.