In the constantly changing environment that is the Internet, there are new acronyms and terminology that pop up alongside new concepts and ideas. Two terms commonly heard in Internet marketing is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which both fall into the realm of Internet marketing. Despite the importance of these two, there’s a fair amount of confusion in where the two terms fall in place, and where they divide. In order to better understand the differences between the two, it’s best to start off with a general understanding of the two terms.
Defining the Two…
Search Engine Marketing (SEM):
SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, is a larger, umbrella term meant to signify the efforts made to increase the visibility of websites in SERPs. If you’ve seen the “sponsored links” or “sponsored results” on the right side of SERPs, then you’re looking at the end results of search engine marketing. In general, advertisers will work through search engines, such as Google AdWords or Yahoo! Search Marketing, in order to display their ads on results. In short, SEM is allows advertisers to engage in paid advertising, instantly obtaining results though inorganic listings.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
While SEM deals with paid advertising and inorganic results, SEO is all about improving one’s organic listings. SEO deals specifically with the improving the visibility of a website through natural search engine results. There are a variety of strategies involved with SEO, involving both on-page and off-page optimization.
So What’s The Difference Between SEM and SEO?
You may be wondering whether you spend your efforts on SEM or SEO, or even both. While the question depends on a wide variety of factors, there are several differences between the two that can help you decide which is best for your marketing efforts. The following are several differences that are associated between SEM and SEO:
With SEM, you’re able to control exactly what keywords and terms you want to rank for, and how much you’re willing to spend. Much like an advertising service, you’ll also be able to decide which pages to link towards, and how often they will appear. On the other hand, SEO is affected by factors that are out of your control. All efforts are geared towards the hopes that your site will appear organically in search engine results.
Organic Vs. Inorganic
SEO mainly deals with organic listings, and as a result, can be difficult and costly to maintain. Unless you rely on black-hat tactics, it can be quite a while before you see any measurable results. However, organic results are generally more favorable, as an overwhelming percentage of searchers explore the first page of search results. Thus, many businesses and companies make the effort to rank organically. Inorganic results are quick to implement and only require a budget: however, once your advertising budget runs out, your inorganic, paid results will disappear as well.
With SEO, there’s a strong focus on producing quality content in order to get your site to appear in search engine results. Whether on your own blog or on other sites, writing unique content with the relevant keywords and structure is a lengthy, but worthwhile strategy. However, there’s no focus on content when getting involved with SEM. All it requires is a budget and a winning bid, and you’ll be able to place your website alongside the search engine results.