Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) can seem like very similar or very different things depending on where you’re coming from knowledge-wise. If you know nothing about either, you might naturally assume them to be vastly different. If you’ve done your research in digital marketing, you might know they are similar but not understand what exactly separates them. Though they are quite interconnected, they are not interchangeable and serve two distinctly different functions.

Understanding SEO and SEM

The critical difference between the two is that SEO is a part of SEM. Both operations’ end-goal is to increase the visibility and traffic to a website. SEO focuses on your site to attain this goal while SEM expands beyond it.

Search Engine Optimization

Online MarketingSEO centers on optimizing your website in various ways in order to rank better in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. A strong, optimized site is more easily navigable by search engine crawlers and people and thus ranks higher in search engine results pages (SERPS). SEO is usually subdivided into two categories; on-site and off-site.

On-site SEOs are changes you can make to your website that make it more user-friendly. These can include writing great content, targeting keywords people search for, cleaning up your sites’ code, and formatting your URL’s well.

Off-site SEOs involve getting other websites to link to you, thereby fostering a greater trust from the search engine. When a search engine sees a bunch of sites directing traffic your way, this results in a higher ranking on SERPs. Off-site SEO is also referred to as link-building. The strength of your off-site SEO is not necessarily the number of links directed to your site, but where those links come from. A single link from a high ranking site is far more powerful than several links from low ranking sites.

SEO is all about driving traffic to your website free of charge while SEM is centered on spending money to increase traffic.

Search Engine Marketing

While SEO is a part of SEM, SEM goes further by adding increased visibility and traffic through paid methods. It is essentially paid advertising, and the ad space is the SERPS. You have no doubt seen these ads, especially if you’ve spent any time using Google Search. Instead of trying to rank higher and get free traffic, a practitioner of SEM is paying to appear in front of other results.

Traffic attained through SEM is widely considered the most useful for the simple reason that it is targeted. With SEO, you’re hoping what you do to your site will make it easier for people to find you when they search for relevant things. But with SEM, you’re aggressively targeting groups of people with your product or services. The most well-known advertising service for this is Google Adwords, but all major search engines and even social media giants like FaceBook and Twitter have similar options.

Building a community around your content and drawing attention to your site is no easy task. For more information on how to improve traffic to your website or other digital marketing needs, contact Performance First Marketing to see how we can get you there.

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By on August 8th, 2018 in News