Are SEO and SEM the same thing?

Are SEO and SEM the same thing?

Is there really a difference in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)? In short, yes there is! Let me explain what they are, and the difference between them.

What are the differences between SEO and SEM?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is focused around Pay Per Click and Paid Advertising. Whereas, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is about increasing the website traffic to your site organically, so completing tasks to help your website through the rankings for FREE. SEM is normally considered that it is a part of SEO. In my opinion, this is incorrect and the two should always be considered as separate elements when it comes to your Search Marketing Strategies.

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the process in which you get traffic to your website for FREE! The process of SEO is about optimising your content to show in the natural search results of any search engine. The easier your website is to find by website crawlers, the easier it is for potential customers to find your site. Using best practises and optimisation techniques, you can obtain some great results. Let me explain, just a few areas that are covered by SEO:

There are 2 main pillars of SEO – On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO is the process of optimising your website – what the customer sees. This is through optimising your H1 tags, Meta Data, Images, Site Speed and much more.

Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO is the process of getting external recognition from other websites that builds trust in your website so that search engines are favourable to your site. Try to think of your website being on a ranking system – the more recognition your site has the higher it will rank. The key area where this will come in is Link Building. Find out more about link building here.

What is SEM?

So we have spoken about SEO, so what is SEM or Search Engine Marketing? As mentioned briefly, SEM is the process in which you gain traffic to your website through paid avenues. For example, pay per click ads on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

You may have thought that the SEM was the umbrella term for SEO, and once upon a time you would have been correct. However, over time this has changed into focusing on paid search.

Not all Pay Per Click techniques are considered to be SEM. For example, Facebook Ads use a Pay Per Click technique that targets potential customers rather than presenting ads that people are searching for. This is a different marketing technique and should not be considered as SEM.

Do you need to use both techniques to be successful at digital marketing?

And the simple answer to this question is… No. SEO is not better than SEM, and SEM is not better than SEO. These 2 techniques work hand in hand. You will have better results from marketing campaigns that include both SEO and SEM techniques.

Utilising the best SEO practises will indeed make your website perform better organically. You want to make sure that your website has the best foundation it can have so that it performs high in Search Engine Result Pages. The reason for this is that these clicks to your site, or traffic, is free!

If you want to build up your brand awareness quickly, then Search Engine Marketing is the way forward but not forgetting SEO. SEM will put you at the top of a targeted SERP page ensuring your content is found at the top, however this can be costly so make sure you optimise these Pay Per Click listings effectively to get the best results.

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