Key Differences between SEO and SEM

January 12, 2023
min read

Have you ever Googled words related to your business? Unless you’re extremely popular, chances are your website will appear low on the search ranks! This is where SEO and SEM come in. They’re digital marketing concepts that revolve around the use of keywords to boost your search engine ranking.

But what does each acronym stand for, and how are the concepts different? Read on to find out!

Defining SEO and SEM

SEO stands for “search engine optimization”. It refers to the process of boosting your website’s organic traffic and search engine rank using links and keywords. The best way to perform SEO is by publishing content on your website that contains external links and most searched keywords.

On the other hand, SEM stands for “search engine marketing.” It refers to the process of inorganically making your company’s website rank higher on search engine page results.

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Key Differences

1. SEM Results are Marked as Advertisements

Have you ever noticed the same links appearing at the top of every results page on Google? These are called sponsored links and they appear higher than other search results to promote companies that pay Google. In other words, they’re a form of search engine marketing!

The main difference between SEM and SEO links is the use of the word “Ad”. Google’s policies make it mandatory for sponsored SEM links to have the word “Ad” written next to them to designate that they’re a form of paid advertisement.

2. You Get Paid for SEM Traffic

Did you know you get paid every time someone clicks on your sponsored link? This is known as “pay per click”—or PPC for short. PPC is a vital part of SEM as it helps companies get a return on their investment.

Unlike SEM traffic, SEO traffic is unpaid. In simpler words, there’s no reward for people clicking on your company’s website—even if you’ve conducted fantastic SEO to ensure it ranks high on search results!

3. SEM Results Are Shown to a Pre-determined Audience

Companies can’t satisfy every single consumer out there. It’s therefore common for businesses to narrow down the market they want to appeal to based on things like age, income, and personality traits. So, if you keep seeing sponsored SEM links for certain businesses, it means you’re part of that company’s target market!

In contrast, SEO results are viewable by anyone that Googles the keywords used by the company. In other words, SEM is a stronger tool to reach target audiences than SEO.

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The best way to conduct SEO and SEM for your business is by hiring a professional digital and online marketing firm like Urban Pixel. We help clients understand how to start an online business by offering top-shelf content marketing and website development services. We’re also constantly looking to expand our team by hiring the best talent on the market.

Find out everything from how to set up an online business to different types of affiliate programs by sending us a message today.

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