March 23, 2018

What’s the Difference Between SEO and SEM?

A while back Search Engine Marketing (SEM) was used as an all-encompassing term that included both paid search marketing and Search Engine Optimization. Today, more and more search marketing experts are referring to the two terms with an increasing degree of separation. So, what does SEM mean now?

Search Engine Marketing

Today, experts in the field have adopted SEM as shorthand for ‘paid search’. This encompasses the following advertising terminology:

Pay Per Click (PPC): This is a type of advertisement that charges the company placing the ad based on the total number of clicks on that ad. Each click costs a pre-ordained amount of money.

CPM: Also known as cost per thousand impressions, relies on a slightly different strategy. Instead of paying per click, companies pay the search engine a set rate based on how many people (measured in thousands) have seen the ad.

Google AdWords: This is a platform that allows advertisers to access Google real estate with their ads. Marketers decide which keywords to target their ads for, then Google places them in the appropriate results pages.

How does this differ from SEO?

Search Engine Optimization

This category involves an organic marketing approach. When people think of SEO, they tend to gravitate toward the following ideas:

Content: Companies publishing 16 or more articles to their blog each month receive 3.5 the amount of traffic as companies that post zero to four blogs each month. Content marketing is a staple of SEO.

Keywords: The content also needs to indicate what the website is about. There’s a lot more than meets the eye involved with choosing keywords for an online business, but suffice it to say that keywords are integrated into content to point Google toward a website.

Links: Links also point to web pages, indicating how relevant they are. A link to your site from another reputable site will tell Google that your site is probably important.

The difference between SEO and SEM is different than what it was in the past, yet they share a close relationship. Both tactics, paid and organic, are executed on the same platform. The goal for a digital marketing company is to capitalize on the vast amount of search engine traffic that occurs every day.