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The difference between SEO and SEM

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So what is the difference between SEO and SEM, are you confused on which one is the best. Well you are not the only one who might want to know about SEO and SEM.

In most cases when people talk about online advertising or internet marketing they are bound to talk about search engine marketing. Even though they might not really understand them fully, and it could be why they end up spending time and money trying to get their products or services to the correct customers.

By understanding in detail what you need to promote your services online via search engines, you will make the correct decision from the on set. Both of this search engine advertising have their pros and cons, which will be outlined.

When it comes a time to make a decision between using SEO or SEM it becomes a challenge. This post will explain both types of search engine marketing and give your clear example relating to online marketing.

The difference between SEO and SEM

Search Engine Optimization which is SEO and Search Engine Marketing which is SEM represent the tactics used by search engines to show search results based on the keywords the user entered.

Both SEO and SEM are a form of internet advertising used by search engines. They both play a significant role and can be used for a specific purpose, which is getting visitors to a website, landing page or a blog using keywords.

SEO and SEM focus on keyword research, should you do proper keyword research and place them in the right places you will rank high, else you won’t appear on the top pages.

The difference between them is that SEO uses tactics that focus on getting free organic traffic to a website, which is also regarded as natural traffic.

While SEM focuses more on tactics that use paid traffic or targeted traffic on search engines.

In most cases SEM is referred to as Pay Per Click advertising or PPC in short. PPC advertising is used by people who have a budget set aside for their advertising campaigns and who are willing to buy advertising through keyword bidding. Apart from pay per click there’s also other paid advertising which is Cost Per Impression or CPM.

Pay Per Click advertising

With PPC you only pay when users click on your ad, which is why it is called Pay Per Click. With PPC you can bid for any keyword and rank high for the keyword.

Another focus should be your return on investment(ROI) if you use PPC ads to target traffic. You need to do your research so that you earn profits for your investment.

The PPC adverts are mostly displayed on the search results page just above the SEO results and below the search box in search engines. Some of PPC ads are displayed at the top right of your screen with a caption “Sponsored” above them.

One other major difference between SEO and SEM is that, most search engine users tend to click more on SEO results and neglect the PPC ads because they don’t trust them due to knowing that those ads are being paid for.

SEO uses free tactics to send traffic to a website but is known to take longer than SEM or Pay Per Click advertising, while using PPC advertising can be seen as an easy method to target customers on search engines but it will cost you.

How can you use SEO effectively?

When it comes to optimizing your web pages you want to focus on doing a proper keyword research, select good keywords and place them in the right places.

You can use SEO effectively by optimizing your web pages for search engines. SEO focuses on On Page Optimization and Off Page Optimization to rank a web page high on search engines using keywords.

With On Page SEO Optimization a web developer uses different tactics that are featured on the HTML page such as including keywords within the title tag, the meta tag description, within the body of the page, in the subheadings, also in the images alt tag and other places.

You need to choose a great platform when creating your website or blog, preferably a CMS. A good CMS for SEO is WordPress, it comes with a lot of features including SEO plugins that you can use to optimize your pages for SEO.

How to target customers using SEM?

Depending on a marketers budget, with PPC you can target your customers by bidding on relevant keywords and target your customers based on what they are searching for, then eventually land them on your site if you rank high for those keywords in a specific area or areas.

With SEM you are in control of the number of clicks you want, how much you are willing to pay for per click and which search engines users you want to target. You can target your desired audience by specifying the area you want the ad to display. With PPC  you can set the time for which you want your ad to display on the search engines.

You can have a landing page instead for users to submit an image, have a video or brief text description on that landing page.

If you want to set up your account you might need certain skills to set up your account if you wish to do it yourself, if you can not perhaps you can find a SEO and SEM specialist or online advertising agency that specialize in both services.

So which method is effective?

If you look at my post title you will see that it includes SEO and SEM not SEO vs SEM. I did that for a purpose, choosing one over another is not a good idea, because they both target traffic.

But the other one is free while the other is a paid method. So your budget should be the determining factor. If you don’t have a budget at all then you can stick to SEO optimization and your site to get free traffic.

Choosing both tactics can benefit any business when used effectively. Choosing one over the other can hurt you. The good thing about SEO is that if you get it right you can get organic traffic for a long time, until some out rank your page. While, if you decide to go for SEM alone it means you have a big budget.

Optimizing your pages for search engines can not be excluded because it brings natural traffic. Even if you do not have any budget, SEO optimization is still the best.

Both SEO and SEM should be considered, if you run a small to medium business or you’re an individual trying to run your search engine marketing and don’t do any SEO on site you could be losing a lot of clients that you didn’t have to pay for.

By choosing to use SEM alone you could be competing against big companies with budgets for the same keyword. So you need to do your keyword research thoroughly before you decide to bit on the keyword.

If your PPC is done correctly it can bring a lot of sales, you should always remember that using PPC is the same as running any marketing strategy, your profits should be higher than your expenses in order for you to see good results.

The advantages and disadvantages of SEO and SEM?

I believe by now you already know what are the advantages in using SEO and their disadvantages, and also with SEM likewise. But I will just put them in point form so that you can.

The SEO Advantages include:

  • If your pages are optimized correctly they can take a bit more time for them to go lower.
  • It costs less or next to nothing to optimize your site unless you hire someone to do it for you.
  • Your site might get free organic traffic
  • Your site can be the most trusted compared to the ones who used SEM or PPC advertising.

The SEO Disadvantage include:

  • SEO might take time to optimize and get ranked high on search engines.
  • Is uncertain that you will rank high because of the competition.
  • Search engines tend to change their crawling source code which usually affects page rankings.
  • You can not channel to specific customers

The SEM Advantages Include:

  • Control which traffic you want, basically targeted traffic.
  • You get control over how many clicks you want
  • The site can be on the first page a few minutes after you set up.
  • You can control which time you want your ad to appear on search engines.

The SEM Advantages include:

  • It can cost a lot of money to run
  • You could still not get your targeted clicks
  • The click could still come from spammers or robotic programs.

Looking at those advantages and disadvantages one would say SEO is the way to go. But then one could still go with SEM. I have stated SEO and SEM play a good role and should be looked at carefully and be applied the same way. Both of these marketing strategies can work with local seo marketing, you can target geo location based on keywords and places.

You are welcome to ask questions regarding SEO and SEM because or get a consultant to do the job for you. Another disadvantage could be that someone who specializes in SEO might not be a specialist in Pay Per click advertising.

Choosing someone to do it for you, you should be able to see if they know and understand both methods by asking a few questions or asking for their previous work which will show the results.

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