Although some marketers might use the terms Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. But what exactly is the core difference between SEM and SEO?
What is the difference between SEM and SEO?
SEM and SEO work hand in hand but there are key differences between the two digital marketing strategies. SEO refers to the process. If you need the process of getting more visibility in search engines through both organic search results and paid advertisements, but primarily through paid traffic, this refers to SEM.
SEM and How it Works
Earning online visibility through paid advertisements via search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing is SEM’s focus.
Through SEM, advertising space is bought to ensure a higher ranking in search results instead of using free traffic to rank in search engines. These paid advertisements are termed as pay-per-click (PPC), which is an SEM-activity used by most popular advertising platforms like Google AdWords. Therefore, utilizing SEM will greatly influence your online marketing efforts.
SEO and How it Works
SEO is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines. SEO has both “on page” and “off page” activities – sometimes called as “on site” and “off-site” activities – as its two main pillars. On page activities primarily refers to the process of strategically making your website search engine friendly. Off-page activities refer to the process of ranking high in search results by getting votes from other websites through link building and mostly by your strategy in content marketing.
Free traffic determines SEO ranking. SEO revolves around strategic keyword placements, meta descriptions and link building. Ranking basically depends, and is determined, by how well your website works and if it can catch visitor’s attention through relevant content. When you have SEO websites, it will also help better your chances of scoring higher rankings in search engine results.
Which is better? SEO or SEM?
There is no correct answer! It all depends on your immediate needs and budget. If you are managing a new website, investing in SEO marketing from the beginning is important. For immediate and guaranteed online visibility, SEM is the choice while SEO may take longer to achieve visible results but it will also be more cost-effective in the long term.
IH Digital is a digital marketing agency in Singapore where you can explore your opportunities with SEM and SEO. Learn from our experienced digital marketing specialists now! Message us here.