Many people tend to confuse the difference between SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). But the question is, how is SEO different from SEM? Both SEO and SEM are used interchangeably in many times, and this makes things worse. This shows the importance of understanding the difference between SEM and SEO.

So, how is SEO different from SEM? We shall begin by defining the two terms, and explaining their components.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is basically an element of the larger group—Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEO is the process or method of increasing the number of traffic to a specific site. Search Engine Marketing ensures that the website ranks better on the search engine results.

The SEO sector is ever changing and this is mainly because of the recurrent changed performed to the Google’s algorithm. However, SEO has one aspect that remains constant—it consists of two activities: On-Page and Off-Page.

The Following Are the Components Of SEO:

As we have seen above, Search Engine Optimization has to activities.

On-Page SEO comprises:

  • Adding selective and relevant keywords into title tags, heading tags, meta descriptions, and alt text. The keywords should appear natural.
  • Posts and page copies that are well written and optimized.
  • Formatting and cleaning page URLS
  • Optimize pages to increase speed
  • Incorporating Google authorship
  • Sharing your content

Off-Page SEO comprises:

  • Creating natural and quality backlink profile—this is also having other authoritative/high quality websites naturally linking to your website.
  • Sharing of social signals
  • Social bookmarking amongst others.

A greater portion of SEO involves creating high-quality and valuable content, directed towards your target audience. This leads to better organic traffic that is directed towards your site, more and better prospects for inbound links, as well as more conversions.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

This is a type of internet marketing, and involves promotion of sites through increasing their ranking in SERPS (search engine result pages). This happens through advertising and optimization. Search Engine Marketing comprises of SEO tactics and other online marketing tactics.

The Components of SEM

Apart from SEO, Search Engine Marketing also involves paid search, like PPC (pay per click) adverts and listings. Mostly, SEM comprises of pay per click activities and campaigns. However, the use of paid search and SEO also falls under Search Engine Marketing category.

Some other activities of search engine marketing are:

  • Developing ad campaigns targeted towards a particular audience
  • Developing ad groups consisting of different target keywords
  • Using selective keywords to come up with relevant ad copies
  • Creating budget for ads
  • Monitoring different metrics such as impressions, clicks, average cost-per-click, and CTT (click through rates)

So, What’s the Difference Between SEO And SEM?

What differentiates SEO from SEM is that SEO is an element of SEM. As we have seen earlier, search engine marketing comprises of paid search, like social media marketing (SMM), and paid search. Therefore, you need to understand that both search engine optimization and search engine marketing cannot be used interchangeably. The reason is, both SEO and SMM work together, hand-in-hand, but the terms are not the same.