SEO vs. SEM or both?

10:39 PM August 23, 2014

So, you’ve decided to take the big plunge and put in more efforts in promoting your website or e-commerce, and then you encountered these big words search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM).


The confusion arises because a lot of tech guys interchange the usage of the two which makes it worse.

Hubspot’s Nicole Rende writes these quick definitions.


“Search engine marketing is a form of Internet marketing that involved the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPS) through optimization and advertising.” SEM includes SEO tactics, as well as several other search marketing tactics.

SEO is essentially a component of the larger category, SEM. According to Google Knowledge Graph, search engine optimization is “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.”

The main difference between these two terms is that search engine optimization is simply a component of search engine marketing. As mentioned above, SEM includes components of paid search, such as PPC (pay per click) and also SMM (social media marketing).

It is important to note that you should never use the terms SEO and SEM interchangeably, because although they work hand in hand, they are not the same term.

According to buuteeq.com, SEO requires larger upfront investment and authoritative knowledge of content—but generates “free traffic” over time. SEO efforts consists of improving quality of content (unique and long are a plus), popularity (webpage visits, number of back links, social votes), and other techno stuff (on-page keyword optimization, domain age, appropriate Meta titles and descriptions).

On the other hand, SEM requires sustained amounts of money—and traffic stops when the money does. For Google to display your ad, the ad needs to meet certain criteria for instance, the keywords you bid on Google AdWords not matching the content on the destination page.

Google once estimated that removing paid ads from Google search would reduce search engine clicks worldwide by 89%–only because paid us completely fill out the screen, blotting out organic results, for 81% of all searches.


So, which is it? SEO or SEM, or both? Learn how to utilize search advertising in the Digital Media Planning Specialist Track of the Certified Digital Marketer Program.

Log on to imadigitalmarketer.com or call 0928 506 5382 / 927 0096 for more details!

TOPICS: search engine marketing, search engine optimization, SEM, SEO
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