In this modern era, SEO and SEM both are popular, but for different objectives to catch a business goal. Sometimes it’s still confusing to clear SEO and SEM. They are like and unlike each other in certain ways

If you don’t have the clear difference between seo and sem, then you can’t improve your website visibility in search engines and can not gain business profit. While the simplest difference between them is SEO is used to gain organic results and SEM is used for paid results.

In this blog you will know the correct definition, difference, similarities and how to use seo and sem.

What do you mean by Search Marketing?

Search Marketing is a strategy which is used to increase your website online presence or attention by any paid or free means. To appear in search engine result pages on search engines like google (the most popular), Bing, yahoo and lot more. Doing such activities can increase website traffic also and ranking too.

To get it more clear, Let’s consider a simple example.

When you put some words on google search engine or on any search engine. The words you typed are known as query. When some results are shown on screen, that is known as result pages or search engine result pages.

The lower your content rank on these search engine result pages, more chances to get a high amount of traffic, organically. How your content is assigned a rank, to appear on serp? The term search marketing plays a significant part here.

What is difference between SEO and SEM | SEO vs SEM

See the difference in SEO and SEM through this image

The Search Marketing is categorized into two parts.

  1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  2. SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

So, first understand the SEO and SEM, afterwards.

What is SEO, step to differ SEO and SEM

It is a process of optimizing your page content, blogs, urls and many other parameters, by which you can achieve a great organic traffic from search engines.

Types of approach to do SEO are as follows:

  1. White Hat SEO
  2. Grey Hat SEO
  3. Black Hat SEO

White Hat SEO

The most safe, popular and ethical way to rank, gain visibility for your website and content in search engine result pages.

Black Hat SEO

It is the unethical way to rank and gain traffic for a website. It’s the fast way to achieve ranking and visibility. But google will put you down when they come to know that your website is using black hat techniques. Doing black hat can put a penalty on your website.

Most used activities are cloaking, hidden texts and links, doing negative seo for a competitors website.

Grey Hat SEO

It is the combination of black hat seo and white hat seo to gain visibility and rank a website. But it is also an unethical way to rank website content.

Google uses hundreds of parameters to rank a content on a query. Only white hat seo can help you to boost your ranking and visibility of website content.

SEO is also categorized into three parts.

  1. On-Page SEO
  2. Off-Page SEO
  3. Technical SEO

On-Page SEO

In this type of seo, each page and post need proper optimization, so that they can perform well in search engine result pages. On page seo includes activities like proper keyword research, content quality, url optimization, Image optimization, Meta tags optimization and much more. For a more detailed look into this topic, take a look at this article, On-Page SEO.

Off-Page SEO

This is another type of seo which plays a crucial role in website performance. Doing off page seo increases websites authority and increases online reputation of the brand or website. This can be done by taking links from high quality websites.

Link building, posting excellent quality articles on other websites, creating quality backlinks, social bookmarking, content sharing are the part of off-page seo. If you want to read deep content on Off-Page SEO, you can read here.

Technical SEO

Optimizing your website crawling, indexing and optimizing mobile friendliness, Schema optimization, website architecture simplification, improving website speed are the part of technical seo. Before knowing SEO and SEM focus on this.

All these three types of seo play an important role in one’s website ranking and visibility. You can’t reach a goal with a single part, all parts need proper attention to grow your website. Lacking in any of these types of seo you will see the affect in your website performance.

Now, lets understand SEM.

What is Search Engine Marketing?

The term search engine marketing, in which only paid activities are done to increase website visibility and performance.

Starting a paid promotion needs optimization of ads, setting budget, demographics, locations and much more. It consists of PPC which is termed as Pay-Per-Click. The PPC needs very advanced knowledge of paid marketing.

Paid promotion can be done on many platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora, Instagram and Google Ads. The most popular platform to run ads are facebook and google ads.

You can run ads on facebook, that consists of Video ads, Image Ad, Brand Awareness ads and lead generation ads. You can read a described post on facebook lead generation ads for more tips and strategies.

Google Adwords provides search based ads, targeting through keywords, you can also perform keyword research to know the most searched term or word to target your business.

This will make you understand difference between seo and sem.

When a person searches for a specific term, an ad appears if someone is currently running ads on that targeted word. Ads can be seen top as well as the bottom of the search engine pages. Clicking on an ad will charge the advertiser.

What is difference between SEO and SEM | SEO vs SEM

If you are willing to start a google ads, then you have to set a bid, that is done through a bidding process. Bidding is used to show your ads on a targeted word (keywords).

Bidding high and low affects your ads position, Many other factors play an important role in google ads. The amount you set for your ad, will be reduced from your account, that is known as CPC (Cost-Per-Click).

An important parameter that is quality score, ensures that your ad is meeting the needs of the user, who searched for it. Landing page relevance, ad copy and CTR helps to determine quality score.

Similarities that can be seen in SEO and SEM

  • They can increase your brand appearance in search engine result pages.
  • Proper optimization and testing is required to increase performance.
  • They can be targeted on specific terms or keywords.
  • They can be used to generate enough traffic to one’s website.
  • Proper keyword research is mandatory, to reveal keywords potential.
  • Both marketing needs audience understanding.

Following difference between SEO and SEM

  • SEO can give you more CTR, comparison to SEM.
  • SEM gives instant results, whether SEO takes much time to give results.
  • SEO can give you feature snippets, but SEM consists of extensions.
  • You need to pay some amount if you are using SEM, but in SEO no money is required to pay.
  • SEO can’t be targeted to a specific location, but in SEM you can target on a single location.
  • SEO grows with time but not in case of SEM.

Which type of Search Marketing you should use?

Both types of search marketing can be beneficial but you need to know when to use SEO and SEM. SEO is a part of SEM.

When to use SEM

If you have a brand new website and you want to promote your business brand by brand awareness or by product or services promotions. Then you can easily catch the eyes of the users looking for the services. SEM gives instant visibility to your website, until you have organic traffic.

Platforms like google adwords, facebook ads are considered the best to promote. You can promote your services or products related to fashion, clothing, food, travel and much more.

You can depend on SEM for a long time. As long as you stop SEM, your website traffic will go down. SEO and SEM, differs a lot like, You need to build organic traffic to make it continue. For that you need high quality content, blogs to grab their attention and transform them into customers.

When to use SEO and SEM, when

SEO can give base to SEM by optimizing website content, landing pages, website pages. SEM performance can be effective due to poor optimization of websites. Organic results can boost your website visibility. Posting high quality content, sharing on social platforms and sharing it to other channels.

When you start SEO, you will see the positive effect in at least 3 months. After this time your website can be seen in google search results easily. But all you need to do is regular SEO of the website.

If you’re curious and want to dig even deeper into this topic what is seo?, then read here.
Hope you have got all the answers and have a clear vision on SEO and SEM. If you find it helpful, share it with your friends. 


Creator of I AM UR TEACHER, Engineer by Degree. 4+ Experience in Digital Marketing, Travel & Gym Lover.

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