About 67,000 searches are done on Google per second. If you’d like your website to appear in these searches, it’s vital to understand SEO and SEM. SEO and SEM are terms used interchangeably to refer to the same thing.

However, there are some critical differences between them. Understanding how each applies in website ranking puts you in a better position to increase visibility.

Let’s now look at the difference between SEO and SEM.

What’s SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to your site. It works by ensuring your website appears on the top of search results produced by a search engine. It’s also defined as the process of gaining free traffic from organic or editorial search results on search engines.

Google regularly creates algorithms which when put together, help optimize your site.

An optimized site, or one that puts the algorithms into use, is easily recognized by search engine crawlers. Consequently, this increases the site’s website to rank higher in search results.

Components of SEO

Search Engine Optimization comprises two main activities; On-page and Off-page SEO. Both are quite invaluable in growing your online traffic.

I). On-Page SEO

On-page or on-site SEO refers to the algorithms you can apply on your website to make it search engine friendly. For example, there’s a need to use well-formatted URLs, good Meta descriptions, and optimized titles. On-page SEO emphasizes the use of H1 and H2 tags, as well as images and others like

  • Using selective keywords in meta descriptions and heading tags
  • Optimized page load speed
  • Social sharing integration
  • Google authorship incorporation

In other words, on-page SEO is all about what you do to optimize your site. It all depends on your efforts and how you use your data insights to improve your performance.

II). Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is the process of increasing your site’s standing by getting votes from other sites. The method includes

  • Link building to gain backlinks to your site
  • Social signals from social media sharing
  • Using social bookmarking sites like Reddit

Getting links from other sites to your site is not just about the number of links you get. Ensure the links are coming from reputable sites.

Importance of SEO

SEO is a crucial component of growing your website, and it’s now more critical than before. Every webmaster should understand its elements and the potential it creates for businesses. With tools like MRP, you can use predictive analytics to ensure targeted optimization.

Search engines serve millions of users in search of answers to their questions every day. SEO plays a vital role in that it helps sites rank highly, increasing traffic to those sites. Increased traffic translates to more potential customers.

Good SEO practices help improve user experiences and site usability. Having a presence at the top of search engine results increases the trust of users in your site. People are also more likely to promote your website on social media when they find it listed top in search engines.

What’s SEM?

Search Engine Marketing is greater than SEO, in that SEO is just a small component of SEM. SEM, on the other hand, is a subset of the overall internet marketing strategy.

It refers to the marketing process that aims at becoming more visible in search engines. This can be achieved by getting more free traffic through SEO or paid traffic (paid search advertising). In most cases, paid advertising is the process of buying space in the front pages as opposed to making an effort to rank higher.

One of the most commonly used advertising agencies is Google AdWords. It helps display your ads in the Google search results. However, you only pay for the ads that visitors click on.

This is the process that’s also known as Pay-per-click or PPC. Other search engines like Yahoo and Bing have similar plans, but not as widely known as AdWords.

Examples of SEM Activities

Google AdWords is the most popular activity in SEM. For more successful results, you should consider incorporating the following

  • Launching ad campaigns
  • Creating keyword-specific ad groups
  • Using relevant ad copies
  • Using an ad budget
  • Monitoring metrics like impressions, click, and average cost-per-click

To maintain an effective paid search ad campaign, ensure you’re applying all these intricacies.

Main Difference Between SEO and SEM

Now that we’ve looked at SEO and SEM, what’s their difference? SEO is a small component of SEM. As seen above, SEM incorporates PCC, SEO, paid search, and social media marketing.

While many people may argue that each component is effective independently, SEO is more of a prerequisite for SEM. It’s the foundation on which SEM is built. Well-optimized content improves the quality of your SEM efforts, giving customers and prospects they can find useful.  

When launching your website, you’ll need immediate visibility in search results. You can gain this through PPC campaigns. However, once you build some credibility, SEM efforts alone won’t be enough to sustain your visibility.

SEO will come in handy at this point. Evaluate what’s best for your site once you understand the differences between SEO and SEM.

Which Tactic Is Better?

There’s a lot of debate between marketers on whether SEO is better than SEM. While we can argue that SEO is better, it’s evident, that SEM can’t succeed without organic SEO. However, there are situations where PPC, as a component of SEM, can be more useful than SEO.

Organic SEO takes a longer time to show results than SEM activities. However, in the long run, it’s less costly and more sustainable in establishing credibility. When it comes to choosing the best tactic, your specific needs would best guide you.

For more information on SEO and SEM, keep on reading our blog to learn about the SEO technique and more!


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