SEO vs SEM
Getting started with digital marketing can be an overwhelming process. Not only are there are a multitude of different platforms and strategies to consider, but they all come with their own set of acronyms and jargon you need to learn before you can jump right in. Like SEO and SEM. They both start off Search Engine, but what does that final letter signify, and what actually is the difference?
What is SEM?
SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing, and covers any marketing tactic used to boost a websites ranking in search engines. This includes methods like PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising through Google Ads. With nearly 395 million people actively using Google each month, SEM is an essential strategy for any brand that is trying to grow their business online.
What is SEO?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is considered to be part of SEM, but refers specifically to organic marketing strategies.
What is organic you ask? Anything that helps to boost your websites rank in search engines naturally, so that you can attract more free website visitors. This involves proving to the search engines that your website is relevant, authoritative, and the best answer to a users search query.
SEO strategies fall into three categories:
- technical SEO – improving your website’s usability and crawlability.
- on-site SEO – optimising your content with relevant keywords.
- off-site SEO – building connections with other authoritative websites.
What is the difference between SEM and SEO?
While SEO is a branch of SEM, when people are comparing SEM and SEO, they are usually referring to paid search engine tactics versus organic. The key difference is that with SEO you are investing in activities that boost your ranking in the organic section, while SEM can involve paying for your website to appear in search engine results as ads.
Which is better for my brand?
Many brands go with both options so that they can take up as much visual real estate as possible. However if you want to pick just one, you will need to consider your brands overall goals.
For example, using PPC as part of a SEM strategy is a great way to immediately boost your website traffic. It works well for promotions and campaigns, or for new websites that have yet to gain any credibility in search engines. On the other hand, SEO tactics are vital if you want your website to show up in the prime search results spots. SEO plans are long term and results take time, but you will be rewarded with a higher click through rate, without having to have a PPC campaign continually running.
The important thing is to work out what your brand wants to achieve, and pick the method that best matches you.