Webopedia on Google+Webopedia on TwitterWebopedia on FacebookTech Bytes Blog
Main » Did You Know » Internet »

The Difference Between SEM and SEO


Most small businesses owners know a little something about SEO (search engine optimization) and the different tactics to help your website rank well in organic search engine results.  Another important tactic for Internet business is SEM (search engine marketing) which includes things such as search engine optimization, paid listings and other search-engine related services.

While the two phrases are similar and sometimes used interchangeably, SEO and SEM are different.

What Exactly is Search engine optimization (SEO)?

Search engine optimization (SEO) can be described as strategies and tactics used to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine.

The goal of successful SEO is to obtain a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines).  Internet users often do not click through pages and pages of search results, so where a site ranks in a search is essential for directing more traffic toward the site.

The higher a website naturally ranks in organic results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user.

Recommended reading: What is organic search?

SEO is typically a set of "white hat" best practices that webmasters and Web content producers follow to help them achieve a better ranking in search engine results. Some of these best practices include:

- Creating and publishing excellent content.
- Using keywords and keyword analysis.
- Link building to improve link popularity.
- Using social media links on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Improving your site's navigation to provide an excellent user experience.

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Many people start with a good Web site and invest in SEO, but don’t necessarily follow through with another very important component; and that is search engine marketing.

SEM is a broader term than SEO, and is used to encompass different options available to use a search engine’s technology, including paid ads. SEM is often used to describe acts associated with researching, submitting and positioning a website within search engines.  It includes things such as search engine optimization, paid listings and other search-engine related services and functions that will increase exposure and traffic to your Web site. 

SEM offers you the opportunity to pay based on clicks (you pay only for each click through from the advertisement to your Web site). Ads in a successful SEM campaign will be shown to those consumers specifically looking for your products or services, resulting in a higher conversion rate.

The Difference Between SEM and SEO

SEM is a broader term than SEO. Where SEO aims to provide better organic search results, SEM uses the search engines to advertise your website or business to Internet customers and send a more targeted traffic to your Web site.

For example, when people use a search engine to query "fashion handbags", the organic search engine results is where SEO technologies can assist your Web site in being more visible.  The paid advertising, or sponsored links are the ones prominently displayed above or beside the organic search results is a product of SEM.

SEO and SEM are not competing services. SEO is considered a subset of SEM services. If you want to conduct business on the Internet you need to be visible in both organic and advertised links, which means you need both SEO and SEM.







TECH RESOURCES FROM OUR PARTNERS
QUICK REFERENCE
How to Create a Desktop Shortcut to a Website

Creating desktop shortcuts to a websites is useful. When you double-click the icon from your desktop it automatically launches the browser and... Read More »

Flash Data Storage Vendor Trends

Although it is almost impossible to keep up with the pace of ongoing product releases, here are three recent highlights in the flash data storage... Read More »

15 Important Big Data Facts for IT Professionals

Keeping track of big data trends, research and statistics gives IT professionals  a solid foundation to plan big data projects. Here are 15... Read More »

DID YOU KNOW?
Keeping Data Secure Is Tougher than Ever

If hackers get their hands on your company's data, they can wreak havoc on customer relationships and cause tremendous damage to your brand and... Read More »

Windows XP: Move Along, There's Nothing to See Here

After more than 12 years of holding the title of most popular operating system in the world, Windows XP is taking center stage for its final... Read More »

Report: The Role of Big Data in the Marketing Industry

According to a new study from Infogroup Targeting Solutions, we can expect to see companies spend heavily on big data marketing initiatives in... Read More »