Are SEO and SEM the Same Thing?

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Are SEO and SEM the Same Thing?

If you are looking to drive traffic to your website with the aim of making sales so as to grow your business, then you know you need more than the traditional modes of advertising. You will need to leverage search optimization as a marketing strategy if you are to be successful in such a situation. Search optimization marketing, or simply search marketing, is any method that helps a business or brand get attention by appearing on search engine results page. The thing about search optimization is that you need a clear strategy that is effective if you are to be successful and improve your visibility. There is no way however, as per the gurus over at, that you can be able to put forward a clear and effective strategy on the same if you don’t know the difference between SEO and SEM, which are the two main categories within search marketing. If you, like most people, are using SEO and SEM interchangeably, and you don’t know the difference between the two, then you are likely to have issues as far as your search optimization marketing strategy goes. With the help of the subject matter experts over at, this article will look to find out whether or not SEO and SEM are the same thing.

We are going to get straight into it by making it clear that SEO and SEM are in fact not the same thing. While SEM is a paid strategy, SEO is an organic strategy, which is the main difference as far as they are concerned as covered in detail over at the excellent In years gone by marketers actually used to consider SEM as including both paid and organic strategies which meant that SEO was actually a component of SEM. However, as marketing has evolved, so has its terms and the above description is no longer acceptable. It is recommended by experts, including those over at the highly regarded, that if you are coming up with a search marketing strategy for your business, then you should include both of these strategies. However, to be able to do that, you need to know exactly what each strategy entails which is what we are going to look at next.

We are going to start with SEO, or search engine optimization, which is, the search marketing strategy that makes use of organic tactics to gain visibility in search engine results pages, SERPs. This means that with SEO, you won’t pay for placement on SERPs but you will use a number of strategies and tactics to ensure your content appears near the top on SERPs. SEO has three main pillars: on-site or on-page SEO, off-site or off-page SEO and Technical SEO; all of which are discussed in detail over at the excellent SEM, or search engine marketing, on the other hand is the search marketing strategy that makes use of paid tactics to gain visibility in Search engine search results pages, SERPs. Therefore, here you will not only have to set up and optimize ads, you will also have to set up a budget to pay for the placement of the ads. Some of the common SEM strategies include PPC advertising campaigns, managing metrics like impressions, cost per clicks and click-through rates among many others, all of which are covered in detail over at

While SEO and SEM have similarities, they have big differences that make it clear they are in fact not the same thing. Some of the similarities they share include the fact that they both help brands appear in SERPs, they are both designed to help drive traffic to one’s website, both make use of keyword research to help one discover popular search terms among others. However, the key difference is that while you will have to pay every time a user clicks on an SEM result, you will pay nothing when a user clicks on an SEO result. Another difference, as per the gurus over at, is that you will see immediate results as far as SEM is concerned since as soon as you launch an SEM campaign, results start to show up in SERPs. On the other hand, it will take time to see results as far as SEO is concerned. It may take weeks or months of implementing an SEO strategy before your business begins to rank on search engines. The fact that SEM campaigns bring results immediately means that you can turn ads on and off at any time unlike SEO. This means SEM is better for testing than SEO as you will make changes such as revising your ad copy among others and see results almost immediately. This also means that SEM is only viable as long as you pay for your ads since as soon as you turn off your ads, your SEM strategy will be over. On the other hand SEO strategies grow with time which means they add more value in the long-run as compared to SEM strategies. Therefore, as per the gurus over at, SEM strategies make sense when you are launching your very first website as you will need immediate visibility to promote your products or services before you can build up your organic credibility. If you have been in the business for a while and you already know how to reach your customers as well as what they want, then a long-term SEO strategy makes the most sense.

While it is clear from the discussion above that SEO and SEM are not the same thing, there is a lot to be learned about both SEO and SEM, including when to pick one over the other, with all this information to be found over at the excellent and so ensure you check them out.