What is the difference between SEM and SEO?

What is the difference between SEM and SEO?


The distinction between SEM and SEO is that Search Engine Optimization is part of Search Engine Marketing or Search Marketing as it is popularly known. Both of these processes focus on increasing visibility in search engines.


SEO is all about optimizing your website to rank higher in the organic search results, but SEM goes beyond SEO. It incorporates other methods that take you to search engine traffic like PPC advertising.





In SEO Vs. SEM, a typical search engine’s results page (SERPs), includes two types of results. The primary one is the paid search results, and the other one is the organic search results.


Paid results are usually represented with the letters ‘AD’ (and sometimes with different colors) to help other users distinguish them from the organic results. These are shown on the top and bottom of the organic search results.


If you want to get your website to appear on top of the ‘paid search results, you need to use PPC (pay per click) ads to bid and win one of the top positions.


You can do this through the various PPC platforms offered by search engines to advertisers.


For example, Google Ads is the advertising tool of Google, Microsoft Advertising is the ad platform for Bing, each search engine has its tool.


To get your website to appear on top of the organic results, you need to have good SEO strategies. In brief, this means, having an SEO-friendly website and publishing content that satisfies the intent of the user for a particular search term can get you in organic search results.


Both the processes (SEO and PPC) make up is known in digital marketing, as Search Engine Marketing or SEM in short.



Let’s understand SEO and SEM in more detail to know how they work.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO)


It is significant to know the meaning of SEO so that the difference between is clear to everyone.


SEO is optimizing your website to get more free traffic from search engines. Traffic that comes from SEO is also referred to as organic traffic.


SEO is most important because prominent search engine traffic goes to the top of the organic results. So, if you want to get more traffic from search engines without using paid ads for it, your website has to appear in one of the top positions.


An SEO-optimized website is effortlessly recognized by search engine crawlers and increases the chances of ranking higher in SERPS (search engine results pages).


Types of SEO


There are three main types of SEO – on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.



1.On-page SEO means using the rules to apply on individual pages and content, they are optimized for specific keywords and LSI.


The main elements of on-page SEO are:


     Page title optimization

     Meta description optimization

     URL optimization

     Image optimization (by using ALT Text)

     H1 Tag optimization

     Content optimization


2.Off-page SEO means the process of getting references (backlinks) from other websites to increase your website’s trust in the front of search engines.


For newcomers, this might be a little bit confusing but think about it as a ranking. It is a system where a website that has the most references (backlinks) ranks higher. It is the reason why off-site SEO is also referred to as link building.


To avoid any misinterpretations, it’s not only a matter of how many links you have pointed to your website but also from where these links are coming from and various other factors.


3.Technical SEO means optimizing the website for the process of crawling and indexing phase. With technical SEO, you can ensure that search engines crawl and index your website without any problem.


The main factors of technical SEO are:


     XML Sitemaps

     Canonical URLs



     Site structure

     Website security


Search Engine Marketing (SEM)


SEM is a digital marketing process to increase visibility on search engines by getting organic traffic through SEO or paid traffic through PPC advertising.


Digital marketing includes other platforms you can use to increase your website’s traffic besides SEM and SEO like social media marketing, email marketing, video marketing, also content marketing, etc.


Why is SEM traffic Important?


Search Engine Marketing traffic is considered the essential source of Internet traffic as it is targeted.


People use search engines to find a solution to their problem, answer a question, or learn how to do something.


So, when searchers click on a website from the search results or click on an ad, they are most likely to convert. The relevancy of the displayed websites and ads makes SEM traffic more valuable than any other source of traffic.


Facebook and Twitter optimize their advertising platforms to use targeted traffic, but traffic that comes from search engines has a better ROI.




SEM Marketing has two most important components, SEO marketing, and PPC marketing. If you want to create a long-lasting online business, you need to use both of them.


PPC or paid ads can get you faster results, but you will have to keep paying for the traffic SEO takes longer to generate results and requires a bigger initial investment.


Both processes aim increased a website’s visibility in search engines to get highly targeted traffic.