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What Is the Main Difference Between SEO and SEM?

difference between SEO and SEM

About 70% of all experiences online start with a search. Most people (75%) never look at the second page of results, though. With search engine marketing (SEM) strategies like search engine optimization (SEO), you can boost your rankings.

A strong search engine ranking can help you generate brand awareness, website traffic, and leads. You can improve your ROI and get ahead of the competition with a strong digital marketing strategy.

What is SEM, exactly? What is the difference between SEO and SEM? Keep reading to find out!

After reading this guide, you can start developing your own search engine marketing strategy. You can reach customers online before your competitors get the chance.

Read on to discover the difference between SEO vs SEM today!

What is SEM?

Before we look at the difference between SEO and SEM, it helps to look at each one separately. What is SEM, exactly?

Search engine marketing is a combination of different strategies. You can reach consumers online and draw them to your website. Then, consumers can convert on your site, becoming a lead or sale.

It’s important to note that search engine optimization is a type of SEM strategy. Other strategies include:

  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  • Display advertising
  • Shopping advertising
  • Geotargeting
  • Remarketing
  • Video ads

Pay-per-click advertising is exactly as it sounds. You’ll pay each time someone clicks on your ad. The cost-per-click (CPC) can vary based on the keywords you use.

Unfortunately, PPC advertising can become costly if you lack search engine marketing experience. Consider working with an experienced advertising agency when developing your campaigns. They can improve your CPC, targeting, and ROI.

When developing a search engine marketing strategy, it helps to use different ad formats. Different formats can appeal to a range of consumers. 

These ads can appear on different platforms, including social media, search engine pages, and other websites. 

In addition to video ads, you might consider using HTML-5, text, or animation ads. You can even create call-only PPC ads. Consumers who click on a call-only ad will immediately call your business.

Over 80% of consumers look online when researching products or services. You can use SEM to appear as people look for products online. Then, you can generate a lead or sale.

The Benefits

When considering the difference between SEO and SEM, it helps to look at the benefits of each strategy.

One of the biggest benefits of search engine marketing is it’s fast. You can create an ad campaign and start advertising immediately.

You can choose different advertising strategies and platforms to appear in multiple places, too. For example, you can use Facebook Ads and Google Ads for PPC. You can create social media marketing ads on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, too.

Using multiple platforms will boost your online reach.

You can also make quick changes to your campaigns whenever you want. With traditional advertising, you can’t make changes once your ads are printed. You might miss the chance to improve your ads or fix changes.

SEM also allows you to use precise targeting. You can direct your ads to appear based on keywords, demographics, or online behaviors.

Having control over your campaigns could help you optimize the results. 

What is SEO?

Over 90% of all global web traffic comes from Google search, Google Images, and Google Maps. In fact, SEO generates 1,000% more traffic than organic social media. If you want to reach customers online, you need search engine optimization.

What is SEO, exactly? SEO is an organic form of search engine marketing. You can optimize your website content to appear based on keyword searches.

When someone looks for your product or service online, your website could appear. Then, the consumer can click on the results to reach your site. From there, they can learn more about your product or service.

To use search engine optimization, you’ll need to gather keyword research. Then, you can create content based on your audience’s searches.

You can create different forms of content, including:

  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Infographics
  • Polls
  • Quizzes
  • eBooks

Content marketing can help you demonstrate your experience and expertise. You can establish your credibility to build brand trust. Consumers might decide to give your product or service a try as a result. 

The Benefits

Search engine optimization can help you rank ahead of competitors on search result pages. Then, you can boost brand awareness and recognition. You can also use SEO to generate more website traffic.

Your content can position you as a thought leader in the industry. Brand trust and loyalty could grow, allowing you to retain repeat customers.

Then, you can improve your ROI and set your business up for growth. 

The Difference

Now that we’ve discussed SEO vs SEM separately, let’s review the difference between SEO and SEM.

The biggest difference is cost.

SEM involves paid advertising methods. You can pay when someone clicks on or views your ads. You’ll need to establish an advertising budget before you get started.

SEO, on the other hand, is organic. You won’t pay to improve your search engine rankings. Instead, you’ll need to use white hat tactics to improve your rankings naturally.

SEM advertising is faster than SEO, too. You’ll have to wait until your SEO rankings improve. If you want to rank on search pages immediately, consider SEM instead.

You’re not limited to one option, though. Instead, consider using both SEM and SEO this year.

In fact, one strategy could benefit the other. 

You can use PPC and other search engine marketing methods to direct traffic to your SEO content. Google will notice you’re generating website traffic. It might improve your organic SEO rankings as a result.

With both SEM and SEO, you can generate brand awareness and website traffic. Then, you can gain fresh leads and sales. Together, these digital marketing strategies could give your business the boost it needs!

Step Up Search Rankings: Understanding the Difference Between SEO and SEM

Set your business up for success this year. Instead of focusing on the difference between SEO and SEM, use bothTogether, these strategies can help you reach more customers online.

Then, you can generate fresh leads and continue improving your ROI. 

Need help developing your search engine marketing strategy? We’re here to help you generate leads and sales! 

Schedule a free consultation today to get started. 

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