The Difference Between SEO and SEM

seo vs sem

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The world of digital marketing can be a confusing area for any business or website owner, especially when they don’t use a digital agency. With words such as SEO or SEM thrown at you, it can be difficult to determine the difference between the two. If you’re new to the online world of website optimisation and internet marketing, the following is a simple guide on the differences between SEO and SEM that, although sound similar, are definitely two different things all together.

The Difference Between SEO and SEM

What Is SEO?

Search engine optimization or SEO is characterized as tactics and strategies which are used to ensure websites are visible to search engines to improve their overall ranking. The goal of SEO is to help secure a high ranking on popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and others to ensure your website, or business website, is seen when using certain targeted keywords. Generally, internet users don’t click through multiple search engine pages, so it’s essential for your website to have the proper SEO to ensure it reaches the first page of search engines to attract more online traffic and visitors. This in turn can help to improve your conversion rate.

SEO generally works by incorporating the best white hat practices from web content producers and Webmasters. Some of these best practices include, but aren’t limited to:

Creating excellent, quality content and publishing it on the necessary websites or online channels for increased exposure.

  • Researching and using keyword analysis and target keywords to improve your website’s keyword optimization. Many people use tools such as Google Keyword Planner to improve and understand their keywords better.
  • Link building to increase the popularity of links and traffic converting back to your website.Using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • Improving your websites overall navigation and user friendliness for optimal user experience when your visitors come through your website.

What Is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing is a much broader website marketing effort which encompasses and includes different available options to market your website through search engine technology. SEM is often described as the act of researching specific material, submitting and positioning a website in the search engines. SEM combines many different marketing avenues including paid ads, SEO, and other related functions and services which are designed to improve traffic to your website and expose your website more efficiently. SEM provides the option of PPC marketing (pay per click) which allows your SEM campaigns to be shown higher in the search results when consumers are looking specifically for your services or products. PPC management improves you overall conversion rate and profits when managed correctly.

What’s The Difference Between The Two?

SEM is a broader term that’s used over SEO. SEO provides the ability to better enhance organic search engine results while SEM is designed to allow search engines to advertise your business or website to your targeted customers or traffic. This increases visitors to your website.

Paid advertising efforts or links which are sponsored tend to display beside or above search engine organic results. This is the product of SEM. A website or business which is brought to the first page of Google or other search engines when a specific keyword is typed in is the product of SEO. While they may seem competitive against one another, SEO and SEM aren’t in competition with each other. SEO services are generally considered under SEM services but provide important aspects to a website’s digital marketing efforts. If you want your business to be seen in organic search engines you need SEO and if you want your business to be visible and advertised through links you need SEM. Incorporating both SEM and SEO into any digital marketing strategy is the best way to improve your chances of boosting your overall conversion rate.


For any business looking to enhance their overall visibility on the internet, it’s important to consider every SEO Company marketing avenue in your digital marketing plan to ensure your website is successful. By utilizing the advantages of both SEM and SEO, your business website can thrive and may become the popular online enterprise that you’re looking to create. So are you setting up a digital marketing plan? Going to incorporate both SEM and SEO?