You might be familiar with search engine optimization or search engine marketing, but are they one in the same? While SEO and SEM are often lumped together or referred to interchangeably, they are in fact different. Both methods work to improve online traffic and leverage brand awareness, but it is important to be able to differentiate the two.
So what’s what?
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
SEO, a component of the larger concept of SEM, is the process by which a website is optimized for keywords and web development to improve natural (or organic) search engine results. SEO evolves continuously in order to best respond to changes in search engine algorithms and includes both on-page and off-page components. These components range from keyword optimization and blogging to high quality back links and social sharing. Organic search results are often affected by social networking platforms and social media development as well.
What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?
SEM is the process by which websites increase their visibility and traffic through advertising and optimization. These strategies will include SEO tactics, as well as paid search, pay per click (PPC) advertising, reputation management, and boosted social media marketing.
To clarify, the two terms are very closely related, but SEO is more specifically a central component of SEM. Marketers often try to substantiate that one is better than the other, but it really depends on what your campaign is trying to accomplish. While organic SEO can be a sustainable, long-term approach, PPC or other paid SEM methods will show more immediate ROI. Whether you choose to utilize organic SEO tactics or paid SEM tactics, digital marketing campaigns will see substantial impact on traffic and brand awareness as a result.
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