SEO and SEM are two acronyms that are thrown around quite a bit in the world of online marketing. If you’re looking for consulting services in this area, it’s good to know what these acronyms mean and the difference between SEO and SEM.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is primarily concerned with influencing the “organic” search results in search engines like Google and Bing. If you look at the example at Bing below, you’ll see the organic search results in the middle (inside the green box).
SEO is the practice of optimizing websites to rank higher in the organic search results.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) includes SEO and is a broader term which includes any and all marketing activities involving search engines. This includes paid advertising. In the example above, paid advertising is shown in the orange box on the right side of the screen.
All the search engines have advertising offerings (it’s how they make money!):PPC Management.” PPC is short for Pay Per Click which is one of the most common advertising models where the advertiser pays a small amount each time their ad is clicked, usually with a daily budget.
SEO is an Important Part of SEM
According to multiple sources, organic search results get 85% of the clicks when a user performs a search in a search engine. That means only 15% are clicking on the paid advertising links. Any SEM strategy should include at minimum SEO, but ideally also paid search engine advertising, especially for your company and brand names.
The Difference between SEO and SEM
Based on the above definitions, the difference between SEO and SEM is as follows: SEO is focused on optimizing webpages to rank well in organic (unpaid) search results. SEM is a broader term for all activities related to search engine marketing and is often associated with paid advertising through programs such as Google AdWords.