Coastal Web Marketing

Blog

What’s the Difference Between SEO and SEM?

Baltimore, seo, Harford County, sem, What’s the Difference Between SEO and SEM?

Like any business, web design and search engine optimization companies have their own jargon. Sometimes it can be a bit confusing. So when you see terms like SEO and SEM, you may be wondering what exactly they mean. SEO stands for search engine optimization, while SEM refers to search engine marketing. What’s the difference? Glad you asked. We’ll being with a short definition of each term.

Search Engine Optimization

The job of search engine optimization is to make a business’s website appear closer to the top of search engine results. SEO is constantly changing, in order to respond to Google’s algorithm updates.

SEO improves a website’s ranking organically, meaning it doesn’t involve paying for better search result rankings. It utilizes on-page optimization such as the use of keyword phrases, frequent original content updates, social sharing and sitemaps to get results. Off-page optimization includes social bookmarking, backlinks to other quality sites and keywords in the anchor text.

Search Engine Marketing

SEM is the big picture, of which search engine optimization is only one part. Search engine marketing is a type of internet marketing that promotes websites by making them more visible on search engine result pages (SERPs) through optimization and advertising. These advertisements can usually be seen at the top or right hand side of the page, and are marked as ads.

Businesses using SEM will often create and pay for ads to be displayed on search engine pages like Google and Bing in order to increase traffic on their own sites. These advertisements are Pay Per Click (PPC), which means every time someone clicks on your ad link, you pay. This is essentially a way for businesses to buy visits to their website. SEM also includes banner advertising, SEO and other search marketing methods.

What’s the Difference?

The main difference is simply that SEO is a non-paid element of SEM. SEM includes paid search tactics like Pay Per Click as well as methods like SEO. Although search engine marketing and search engine optimization are closely intertwined, it’s important to note that they are not the same term and cannot be used interchangeably.

So Should You Pay or Wait?

While it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your business, there are certain advantages to both SEM and SEO.

SEM Advantages:

If you decide to pay for visitors, you can have instant web traffic without waiting for better rankings to happen organically.

SEM also guarantees better visibility on search engine result pages. SEO can’t make such guarantees. The downside is some people won’t click on a search engine result that is labeled as an ad.

SEO Advantages:

Although SEO is a long term approach, it allows businesses to establish search credibility.

Compared to SEM, SEO is extremely inexpensive, helping you to reduce marketing costs and spend money on other important areas of your business.

Most industry experts would agree that you shouldn’t solely pay for rankings, but that you should use a combination of SEM and SEO tactics to build your business’s online presence. To learn more about how you can improve your search ranking and increase web traffic, please visit our search engine optimization page, or call us today at 410-420-9390.