What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

Digital marketing has come a long way and today has become one of the mainstream marketing techniques. There are a number of techniques used for digital marketing such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or SEM (Search Engine Marketing) or SMM (Social Media Marketing).

The terms SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) sound similar and are often used interchangeably. However, SEO and SEM are two distinctly different means of online marketing.

What exactly is SEO?

Search engine optimization includes strategies and techniques that are used to make sure that your website is ‘findable’ over the internet when a user types in certain ‘keywords’. Your website is hence analyzed and all the necessary changes are made to make it accessible to all the major search engines. Search engines usually rank the websites based on a number of criteria such as its relevance to the keywords being searched, the quality of content on the website and the links it receives from other relevant, high quality websites. The prime goal of SEO is to ensure that your website ranks among the top search results for Google, Bing or any other search engine. This is mainly because; internet users usually click on the links that are presented to them at the top of the search result pages. Seldom will they browse through the second or the third page of Google’s search results. It’s hence important that your business be found among the first few results – for your targeted keywords.

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing is a broader term and encompasses a number of options that are available for businesses to market their products and services using search advertisements or paid ads. This kind of marketing is often used to increase exposure and get instant traffic to your website. SEM offers businesses with a pay per click model which essentially means that you pay for the advertisement only when it gets clicked on. The search engines accurately display these ads only to those users who are searching for your targeted keywords. This results in a higher conversion rate.

The difference

So, basically, SEO focuses on organic search engine rankings and SEM revolves around paid ads so as to get targeted traffic to your website.

For any business, it is always a good idea to use a combination of both the techniques – SEO as well as SEM.

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