SEO SEM Marketing — What’s the Difference?

Do you know the difference between SEO & SEM marketing?

SEO-SEM Marketing. Is there even a difference between the two? SEO is short for search engine optimisation whilst SEM is search engine marketing. With both terms prevalent in digital and online marketing, it can be a confusing concept for those starting out in these channels.

Worse, both terms are often used interchangeably! It is imperative to understand the difference because they are different.

In this article, I’ll explain the differences between SEO and SEM marketing.

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What is search engine optimisation (SEO)?

Google is constantly amending and updating its algorithm and assigning relevance to varying factors. What was acceptable previously could be damaging today. Yet there remains one constant in the aspect of SEO: On-Page and Off-Page activities.

What components does SEO marketing include?

On-Page SEO includes:

  • Incorporating targeted keywords into title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, alt text and so on.
  • Blog posts and page copy that is written and optimised with quality (inserting keywords into the page copy without keyword stuffing)
  • Clean and formatting page URLS — so called semantic URLs
  • Optimised page load speed — slow loading pages are penalised by Google
  • Google authorship incorporated
  • Social sharing integration within your content (how easily can others share the content)And hundreds more!

Off-Page SEO includes:

  • Creating a high quality, natural backlink profile ( having other high quality/authoritative sites link to your site naturally. Specifically those with higher domain authority and are relevant to your website)
  • Social sharing signals (how often is your content shared by others has been shown to increase the page authority’s strength)
  • Social bookmarking (Stumbleupon, Reddit)

Again there several other factors that contribute to Off-Page SEO. There is more written about them here.

What is search engine marketing (SEM)?

What does SEM include then?

What are the main differences between SEO and SEM Marketing?

It is important to note that you should never use the terms SEO and SEM interchangeably, because although they work hand in hand, they are not the same term.

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Which marketing tactic is better?

As mentioned above, there are many situations where PPC (a component of SEM) makes more sense than SEO. For example, if you are first launching a site and you want immediate visibility, it is a good idea to launch a PPC campaign because it takes less time than SEO to get your site ranking in the top 4 results. But a note of caution, it would be unwise to limit yourself with only PPC and not even begin search engine optimisation.

Although organic SEO takes longer to show results, ultimately it will be less costly and you will establish a search credibility that you may not establish with PPC. There are various SEO toolsthat can help establish your search credibility.

When it comes to choosing the best tactic for your business, it is important to evaluate your specific circumstances and needs, but by fully understanding the differences between SEO SEM Marketing you have a better strategy of how to maintain your efforts.

Should you still be puzzled as to whether to consider SEO and SEM marketing then speak to the team at Blu Mint and we are happy to discuss your needs with you.

David is the CEO of Blu Mint Digital & a Board Member of the British-Estonian Chamber of Commerce; and writes about Digital Marketing and Entrepreneurship. This article was originally written for the Blu Mint Digital blog.

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