What is SEO vs SEM? SEO revolves around increasing traffic through the incorporation of unique keywords into your website or blog, while SEM gives exposures to your website through paid Google ads.

SEO can be achieved through the use of methods or techniques aiming at obtaining high ranking keywords worldwide. So unique that, it is highly ranked in the (SERPs) search results page of search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and various other search engines. You may be interested to read this article I wrote about what is SEO and how it works.

A keyword is obviously one of the tools used in SEO. It is a word that describes contents or specific keywords used on the blog posts, news, social posts, articles on websites, and the like.

Basically, SEO focuses on how perfect you can arouse the interest of your visitors over time and how you can engage people to always check on your website. How proficient are your keywords? What values do those keywords have to offer? You should know that guests get captivated on search engine results relevant to their search query, as this influences them to go for keywords that are unique. Indeed, obtaining unique keywords is one of the objectives of SEO.

While SEO focuses on the techniques, steps, and practical methods of increasing the number of guests that visit your website or blog on a daily basis, SEM ensures a high degree of visibility and promotion of your website through paid Google ads. SEM is, without doubt, a wide and broad term than SEO, and it is a type of internet marketing that entails various search engine services.

Before the differences are properly dived into, it is very much imperative to emphasize the full meaning of SEO and SEM. Till date, SEO is still a short way of saying, Search Engine Optimizer (when the optimization process is being aided with automated tools). Search Engine Marketing has the acronym: SEM.

While SEO is basically about how the keywords (incorporated into your site) lead on search engines, SEM is after how your business or website would gain the attention of more visitors through ads placement incorporated into it. Either way, both are of the same goal of promoting and helping your business grow. Of course, this cannot be over overemphasized, for this article focuses not on the similarities, but the distinction between the two.

Although the tactics may sound the same, their approaches are noticeably different. As a result, to enable a clear understanding of the two, it is important to vividly clear the air by stating their difference.

The differences between SEO and SEM
1. SEO & SEM Strategy & Cost
SEO is a ranking algorithm (organic) strategy without ads designation while SEM is a money-oriented strategy that includes ads incorporation. SEO is a non-payment strategy bearing no ads, in the sense that, site owners and bloggers do not need to make any payment before the organic keywords on their site rank other keywords, also, ads placement is totally out of the context. When you own a site or blog that has a valuable, promising, and leading content, these attributes enable search engines to place their content (keywords) at the top of SERPs. Hence, your content must have been so unique that it ranks above other contents.

In SEO, the organic keywords placement by search engines for brands is done at relatively, the cost of having an organic content, unlike SEM that uses paid technique to acquire visibility in SERPs. SEM is a paid technique, in the sense that, placement of ads on site are usually paid for. Google Ad is a prominent search provider used for ads placement.

With Google Ad, business is able to develop unique keywords for the products they offer in their industries that would enable targeted potential clients or internet users to check out their latest products when they search those keywords on the internet. At the top or bottom of SERPs, they see and click on generated ads, while brands are usually charged for every ad per click by users.

2. Accessibility
In SEO, you can not specifically specify who you want your search results to be accessible to, but in SEM, restrictions can be made through filter allocation, based on the users’ sex, age, location, etc. that can see and access the search results, wherein, the only audience that meets their conditions can access their contents. As a case study, some pornographic site does assign a filter that restricts children from accessing adult content, the same also applies to other websites. Also, there exist some websites that are only accessible to indigenes. Non-indigent is restricted from accessing such sites.

3. Time of Implementation & Flexibility


For the fact that SEM is a paid scheme, it takes only a short time to be implemented. With just some clicks, you can begin to put forth your ads at the reach of audiences (internet browsers). It doesn’t take time before your ads start showing in SERPs once it is turned on.

SEM is flexible, such that, you can easily disable and enable ads. This will enable you, as a site owner, to easily change or target new users and revise the content of your ads; you can easily test run or manoeuvre. Conversely, SEO is a process in the long run. It is not an easy scheme to be carried out in a short period of time, as it can only be acquired over time. Before a website starts to lead other websites on search engines, it can take months or even years of implementation of SEO strategy, and as a consequence, this would limit its flexibility.

4. Time of Value
As far as SEM is concerned, it is a paid scheme and once you decide not to pay for ads, then it becomes inactive. SEM may not add value overtime again, soon after you decide to have your ads disabled. Comparatively, SEO has no payment involved, hence, its value is limitless and it is added overtime; it leaves results that last longer.

5. Search Result
Another noticeable distinction between SEO vs SEM is that SEO makes use of snippets. Snippets are useful to search results that show as contents box on SERPs.

search engine marketing and optimisation

SEM makes use of ad extensions that show extra business info such address, contact info, and others, with your ads.

On a lighter note, SEO is a term commonly used by content writers, website or blog owners, and it guides writers on the important keywords that can better enable them to earn more traffics. Conversely, SEM as the name implies involves marketing or advertisement of owned websites.

While you contemplate on the comparisons between SEM vs SEO, it is also imperative to decide, which of the two is ideal for your business. When comparing SEO vs SEM, there is no simple answer as to which of the two is better off; both have their respective factors. Where SEO aims at earning you more traffics, SEM may demote your business when you cannot pay the cost of paying for ads. Inversely, SEM may bring more audiences to your site through paid ads, while SEO does the exact opposite when you cannot pay the cost by having organic content. The conclusion cannot be made as to which is perfect for your business but having both techniques improved and incorporated into your business would most certainly promote your business.

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