SEO and SEM – What’s the Difference?

SEO vs. SEMDigital marketers regularly refer to the terms SEO and SEM, which may appear confusing because they sound so similar. While there certainly is some overlap, SEO and SEM do denote different things. Let’s take a look at each one a little closer.

What Is SEO?

SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” which is a collection of processes designed to attract free traffic to your website. The more a website is optimized, the better it will be displayed in online searches compared to its competitors.

There are many moving parts that go into having a fully optimized website, though, Also, search engine optimization tools and best practices often change, but there are various on-site and off-site factors that remain constant. Let’s take a closer look.

On-Site SEO Factors

On-site SEO factors are those whose tactics can be applied manually to your site to make it more search engine friendly.

There are many ways to incorporate such tactics. One of the most helpful ways is to utilize keywords discovered from keyword research. With keyword research, you determine the most influential terms that relate to your industry that consumers are most likely to choose when using a search engine. When you incorporate these keywords in targeted and relevant ways, you can see some real results in your website’s rankings.

Optimizing metadata is another crucial aspect to sound SEO, and this is an area where companies will want to additionally incorporate keywords. Other on-site SEO tactics include presenting a strong title, adding a wealth of content, incorporating a variety of images and videos, and using a well-constructed URL.

Off-Site SEO Factors

The biggest off-site SEO factor is what’s referred to as link building. This is a process where websites link from their site to yours. Link building is one of the main ways to boost the credibility of your own site through the help of other people.

The more that your site is linked on other sites, the more likely it will be that search engines recognize your site as being trustworthy and present it more prominently in searches.

Certain spammy links are undesirable though, but you have the option of requesting these links be removed so they won’t adversely affect your site and its rankings.

What Is SEM?

Search engine marketing, or SEM, is one of the four main categories pertaining to internet marketing. SEO and SEM are related because SEO is a subcategory within SEM.

When broken down into specifics, search engine marketing is made up of SEO and PPC which stands for pay-per-click advertising. PPC encompasses any paid advertising a business does online in channels such as Facebook, Google Ads, Bing Ads, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.

SEM is the overall marketing process that focuses on getting more visibility, higher traffic and better rankings through both pay per click and search engine optimization. Thus, everything a digital marketing firm may do to help your business could be considered SEM, but only certain aspects of it would overlap with and be considered SEO.

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If you’re thinking about utilizing SEM and SEO tactics in your business, reach out to our dedicated team. We can get a plan in place tailored to your company’s goals!

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