This Is the Main Difference Between SEM and SEO

Getting invested in a great digital marketing campaign requires a little background knowledge about the functions of digital marketing and how they work. There are a few terms in the digital marketing lexicon that often get mixed up or misunderstood. 

One of the common misunderstandings is the difference between SEM and SEO. We’re going to take a look at the differences between those two concepts in this article, giving you some insight into how you can conceptualize the different pieces of your marketing campaign. Hopefully, the information below can help you take the next step forward toward turning your online presence into improvements to your business.

Let’s get started:

What’s The Difference Between SEM and SEO?

It’s easy to mix these two concepts up because they’re both three-letter acronyms that start with “SE.” Additionally, they relate to a lot of the same pieces of the internet and work to achieve the same goal. 

If you’re not sure what these terms mean, SEM means “search engine marketing” and SEO means “search engine optimization.” 

Let’s take a look at both of these concepts in detail so you can get a better idea of what they are and how they’re different. 

The Basics of Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is the process of tailoring your website to fit well into the set of preferences that Google sets forth for its search results. Google’s algorithm has a set of 200-plus factors that it uses to rank websites, and the purpose of SEO is to curate your site to rank highly and reflect those search factors. 

All of this is done to generate better rankings across all of your content on your site. It takes time, though, and the process can be painstaking. That said, organic SEO results stick around and solidify your place in those rankings for a long time to come. 

In other words, SEO is the long, unpaid process of creating a good name for yourself that draws business. 

The Basics of SEM

Search engine marketing, on the other hand, is paid. Platforms like Google and Facebook offer advertising options that give you the ability to market your business to thousands of people without having to generate search rankings or build a social media following. You can just invest a chunk of your ad budget, get advertisements placed on the feeds of thousands of people in your target demographic, and reap the rewards. 

That said, there’s a lot of research and planning that goes into creating the right ad. You also have to figure out who the most receptive audience will be and target them. 

So, both of these processes work toward building business for your website. SEO is free but takes time to generate. On the other hand, SEM is paid and takes almost no time at all. 

Want to Learn More about Digital Marketing?

Understanding the difference between SEM and SEO is just the first step toward having a working knowledge of how to market your business online. We’re here to help you understand those basics and even offer up our services if you feel like you need a little boost. 

Contact us to learn more about how working with a professional can take your marketing campaign where it needs to go.