What is SEM

SEO Vs SEM – What Is The Difference?

If you’re learning SEO and all the other aspects of digital marketing you’ll have likely realised by now that we love a good acronym. And just one of the ones you have to get your head around is SEM. But what is it and how is it different to SEO?

What is SEM?

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. SEM is any marketing effort that utilises search engines. A good SEM strategy will include both paid (pay-per-click or PPC) and organic marketing (search engine optimisation or SEO).

  • PPC
  • SEO
  • Retargeting Ads
  • Display Ads

What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the overall strategy and SEO is just a part of that strategy.

SEO includes any and all optimisations around organically ranking in search engines. It doesn’t include paid marketing such as PPC. It may include:

What is PPC?

Pay-per-click marketing is a payment model where you pay whenever someone clicks on your advert.

Unlike more traditional marketing, magazine ads or billboards for example, where you pay a fixed regardless of interaction.

When it comes to search engines, there are a few different forms of PPC. The most common in search.

This effectively allows you to pay to jump the queue and display your results above the regular organic results.

Other kinds of PPC depend on the search engine. Google for example has Google Shopping which is a more visual way for users to shop and allows them to see information upfront before going through to the website.

Which is better, SEO or SEM?

SEO is part of an SEM strategy, so you cannot really compare the two. However, you can compare the other elements of SEM with SEO. For example PPC.

Is PPC better than SEO?

PPC is an excellent tool when you have the budget and want immediate results. It can get very expensive though depending on the competition in your niche.

SEO takes a long time, but if you are willing to do the work yourself can be much more affordable or even free!


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