Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are two different marketing channels businesses use to reach their target audiences online. And oftentimes, the online success for any business involves a combination of both SEO and SEM. 

While these are two very different approaches to help a business become more visible on search engine result pages (SERPs), when used together they can create powerful results. 

Today we want to dive into the difference between SEO and SEM and the value they can add to your digital marketing efforts. 

SEO vs. SEM 

SEO is an approach that uses organic methods to help a business appear in search results, while SEM uses paid methods. These paid methods are also known as pay per click (PPC). 

To help SEO, we recommend doing things like optimizing your website through technical SEO, on-page SEO, content creation and off-page SEO to help rank higher in the search results.  

  • Technical SEO: this focuses on improving the technical structure of a website and improving things like site speed, mobile friendliness, security and indexing. 
  • On-page SEO: this includes optimizing things on the web page like title, H1 and meta tag optimization, atl tags, etc. 
  • Content: content is one of the main ranking factors so without relevant content that matches what users are searching for, you will always struggle to rank high. There needs to be a solid content strategy and updated content on your website. 
  • Off-page SEO: this includes things like link building and things to improve the authority or authenticity of a website in Google’s eyes. 

When helping clients with SEO be successful, our team combines and works on all four of these to maximize results! 

Benefits of SEO include: 

  • More user-friendly website 
  • Increased website traffic 
  • Higher conversion rates 
  • A competitive edge 

SEM on the other hand uses paid tactics like PPC to help gain visibility with search engines. This includes using advertising platforms like Google Ads and Bing ads to reach your target audience and managing monthly campaigns so they are increasing conversions and ROI. 

SEM usually begins with keyword and competitive research to help create targeted campaigns. Campaigns include search ads, shopping ads, display ads, YouTube ads, and Gmail ads. We can set up campaigns with your budget and every time someone clicks the ad, you pay (so if they don’t click, you’re not charged). 

One major benefit of SEM is that you can see conversions and results quick! SEO can take months to see a difference, but with SEM, ads show up and users can click on them immediately to accelerate your traffic and sales. 

SEO and SEM: One common goal 

SEO and SEM share one common goal: to drive traffic to your website. Although they work on different timeframes, together they’re focused on the same result and when you consistently work on both of them, you will find that SEM capitalizes on targeted keyword searches and SEO provides the foundation to convert and retain the traffic created by SEM

When you intertwine both you will produce stronger digital campaigns with more noticeable results.  

Together they will: 

  • Improve the visibility of your website on search engines 
  • Drive a more relevant audience and higher quality traffic to your website 
  • Help you understand your target audience 
  • Do ongoing testing and optimization 

Interested in learning more about how to be more visible online? Or how our SEO and SEM strategies will help you grow

Check out our services online or call our office today for more information and a personalized quote.