How are SEO and SEM Different in Digital Marketing?

seo vs sem

Have you often wondered about the difference between SEO and SEM? Well, in this blog, we dig deeper into all of that. But, let’s take a look at the very basics of it. The difference between search engine optimization also known as SEO and search engine marketing also known as SEM is that the former puts its focus on getting traffic from organic search. On the other hand, the latter focuses on getting traffic from organic as well as paid searches. 

But is that it? Of course not. Well, it’s time to dig deeper into this digital services-SEO SEM and how they are different from each other. 

What is search engine optimization or SEO?

SEO refers to the process of bringing improvements to the visibility of a site’s outcomes. This happens on specific search engines. It is executed with the help of unpaid forms of online advertising. The SEO strategy is used for increasing traffic to a site. This is done by continuously improving the website’s rank on search engine pages.

 What is search engine marketing or SEM?

SEM also refers to the process of bringing improvements to the visibility of a site’s outcomes. This also happens on specific search engines. However, SEM is executed with the help of paid forms of online advertising. SEM actually includes SEO or Search Engine Optimization. It also includes contextual advertising, social networking, AdSense, AdWords, pay-per-click (PPC),  and so on. 

SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

Before we move on to studying the difference between SEO and SEM more closely, let’s have a look at some of these fun and interesting facts related to the topic. 

  • According to TNW News, there are only about 30% of new businesses state the use of SEO for marketing and around 12% of companies are using PPC promotions.
  • Although there are around 79% of digital marketers state that SEO strategy is one of their best strategies, there are also about 39% who are recognizing it as one of the most challenging strategies to adopt, according to TNW News.

And now, it’s time to go back into exploring the difference between SEO and SEM.

On one hand, we know that SEO is just a part of SEM. On the other hand, we know that SEM is a superset of SEO. The SEO strategy usually takes more time to actually appear in the form of results. However, SEM or search engine marketing gives out immediate results. If you are running a low-budget company, SEO is a better-recommended strategy for your type of business. However, if you are running a business with a big budget, SEM is recommended as the digital strategy to go with. When it comes to CTR which refers to Click-Through Rate, SEO has it higher than SEM. 

Another big difference between SEO and SEM is that SEO is cheaper than SEM. Although SEO does not show immediate results, it does have more long-term benefits as compared to the SEM strategy. Another benefit of SEO that SEM does not share is that when it comes to SEO, the traffic potential is unlimited. However, with SEM the traffic potential is limited based on the budget for running the SEM strategy.

Another set of differences between SEO and SEM include the fact that SEO has the capability of improving a website’s visibility. On the other hand, SEM has the capability of improving small business sales. Amongst the digital services-SEO SEM, the competition is lower in SEO. This is because SEO requires organic content.

However, SEM has higher competition in the targeted areas. Lastly, in the process of SEM, the search results are targeting the selected audience. And, in the process of SEO, the search results do not target any particular audience.

The best example of SEO could be backlinks creation, and SEM could be Google Ads. 

Let’s have a closer look at SEO and SEM individually, to understand them better!

How does SEO work? 

SEO is one of those strategies that work the same. This is regardless of whether you’re using  Bing, Google, or any other search engine. Each and every search engine has crawlers. These do the job of scanning all of the web pages that are available to them on the Internet. These crawlers then begin to bring this information back to a database. This is where the data gets indexed. From here, the algorithms match a user’s search query to the information that is stored in this particular database.

How does SEO work? 

How does SEM Work?

The SEM or search engine marketing strategy works through purchased keywords as well as advertising. Usually, the website owners/ staff or sometimes even a PPC agency in India might decide or allocate a budget for bidding on keywords. These are the keywords that the searchers may use at the time of generating their search queries. The search engine marketing strategy works pretty well, whether the budget size is a little more or even a little less. These paid keywords then appear in the user’s search results. They appear in the form of an advertisement.

These types of advertisements come in multiple formats. They may include the following:

  • Text-based 
  • Visual-based 

With all of this information, you can be sure that there is a lot to know about digital services-SEO SEM. Although search engine optimization is a part of search engine marketing, it is crucial to understand the difference between both.  

In conclusion, search engine optimization and search engine marketing are quality marketing strategies. They offer a business various benefits. This can even include real estate agents. When it comes to the decision of which one to use or whether to use both simultaneously, it depends completely on the agent who is making the decision. Therefore, if you have a business looking to grow its website’s value over time as well as wanting to avoid paying for ad placements, an SEO strategy is the best way to go about it. However, if you are looking to rise to the top of the SERPs with an immediate effect, as well as gain an instant improvement in traffic, the SEM strategy would be recommended.