The Main Difference Between SEM and SEO

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About 70% of all online activity begins with a search engine like Bing or Google. In fact, the most popular activities people engage with online are search and email. 

With that in mind, more businesses are using search engine marketing (SEM). As part of their SEM strategy, they’re also using search engine optimization (SEO).

What is the difference between SEM and SEO, exactly? Keep reading to find out!

After reading this guide, you can make a more informed decision for your digital marketing strategy. Read on to learn more.

What is SEM?

What’s the difference between SEM and SEO? First, let’s review the basics: what is SEM?

Search engine marketing is a combination of different digital marketing strategies. SEO falls under the SEM umbrella. Other forms of search engine marketing include:

  • Video ads
  • Geotargeting
  • Shopping ads
  • Remarketing
  • Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
  • Display advertising

You can create ads in different formats. For example, you can create animation, text, video, and HTML-5 PPC ads. You can also create call-only ads, boosting calls to your business.

You can learn how to create a search ad here.

With PPC ads, you pay each time someone clicks on your ads. Other SEM strategies are based on cost per impression. You pay for every 1,000 views.

You can determine whether people see your SEM ads on search engines, social media platforms, or other websites.

Search engine marketing is a great way to boost brand awareness. When someone clicks on your ads, they can reach your website. You can boost site traffic and online conversions, too. 

What is SEO?

What is search engine optimization, then?

SEO is an organic digital marketing strategy. You can optimize your website content to appear for online searches. More people will start seeing links to your website, which can boost:

  • Brand awareness and recognition
  • Brand trust and loyalty
  • Your credibility in the industry
  • Website traffic
  • Leads, conversions, sales
  • Your ROI

It can take time before your SEO content ranks higher on Google, though. Without a higher ranking, people might not see your site. 

SEO vs SEM

What’s the difference between SEM and SEO, then?

About 50% of all website traffic starts with a search. Both SEM and SEO can help you generate traffic.

SEM is a paid strategy, however, while SEO is organic. You can appear on search engines instantly with SEM strategies, too. SEO, on the other hand, can take time.

When discussing the difference between SEM and SEO, it helps to consider your goals. If you want to maximize your online reach, use both.

In fact, SEM can benefit your SEO strategy. Google will notice you’re generating more traffic through PPC and other strategies. It could boost your SEO rankings, helping you reach more customers.

The Difference Between SEM and SEO: Your Guide to Search Engine Success

To recap, what’s the difference between SEM and SEO? One is paid, while the other is organic. It can take time to boost SEO rankings, while SEM is much faster.

You can use both to benefit your business.

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