Difference between SEO & SEM

We often confuse SEM – search engine marketing and SEO services to mean the same thing. However, the two are very different marketing channels with different meanings, used by businesses to increase their reach on platforms such as Google. However, to gain a deeper understanding of their roles we need to understand the purpose of the two.

Both are usually confused with each other, but they play very different roles and are two distinct concepts.

To begin with :

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – An approach using organic methods to increase reach.

Search Engine Marketing(SEM)- An approach using paid methods to increase reach.

These are the 4 Pillars of SEO content strategy:

  • Technical SEO – Aspects that focus on maintaining the structure of a website/ improving site speed, data, mobile-friendliness & indexing etc.
  • On-page SEO – This includes optimising aspects of the web pages that help search engines promote and understand the particular content including title, H1 and meta tag optimisation, images, alt tags etc
  • Content – If you are promoting good content on Google, it is one of Google’s main ranking factors. If you do not have great content that matches the searcher’s interest, you will struggle to rank in the top spots. Hence, one aspect of this is copywriting which also needs to be backed by a strong strategy.
  • Off-page SEO – This includes improving & maintaining the authenticity and trustworthiness of your business/website in the search engine’s eyes by connecting to higher authorities & relevant known websites. If search engines realise that users do choose or trust a particular website, they will provide a higher ranking for the same. The authority usually comes from PR, building links and marketing.

SEM stands for search engine marketing and is usually described as a strategy of using paid tactics to increase reach and gain visibility on search engine websites which are also known as PPC – Pay Per Click.

SEM usually uses Google ads or Bing ads to promote businesses or that help a website rank organically and reach its target audiences. SEM uses paid ads – PPC to help the ads reach their target audience. Keyword search & competitor insights are very essential when doing
SEM. These can be used with the PPC advertising tool word kit to ensure that targeted campaigns are placed to advertise the products/services to the target audiences.

These ads include :

  • Search ads
  • Display ads
  • YouTube ads
  • Gmail ads

Each time an ad is seen running, and a user clicks on the ad, the business pays that particular platform for it.

Here are some similarities between SEO & SEM:

  • Improves visibility of your website
  • Drive a high amount of relevant amount for traffic
  • Understanding your audience
  • Using keyword search and targeting relevant keywords

To conclude, it’s important to understand the relevance behind each of these as a part of your marketing strategy and understand how we can use both to drive success and gain a competitive advantage.

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