Search engine world. What are the differences between SEO and SEM?

Search engine world. What are the differences between SEO and SEM?
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SEO and SEM are two different marketing strategies that have many similarities, as well as some key differences you need to be aware of before deciding which one is right for your business. 

The first one stands for search engine optimization, and it’s the practice of improving your website’s visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! The second – stands for search engine marketing, and it involves paying third-party services to drive visitors to your site through keywords or targeted ads on their sites.

Organic search results

(Search Engine Optimization) SEO is the practice of improving the ranking of a website on search engines. The higher the ranking, the more likely people are to find the site. The goal is to get the highest ranking possible in organic, i.e. free, search results. It is over 80% of the entire Internet network.

For this purpose, two optimization strategies are used. On-site, i.e. activities focused on the technical structure and construction of the website, and off-site, i.e. its recognition in other places on the web. For this purpose, knowledge from various fields is used, from computer science, programming to marketing and promotion. The goal is to create the best space for dialogue with algorithms and users.

Inorganic search results

(Search Engine Marketing) SEM, on the other hand, is a type of internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages. SEM includes both paid search results (using tools like Google AdWords or Bing Ads) and organic search results. It is a much broader concept.

PPC, or pay-per-click, is a type of SEM connected with ads that are the ones you see at the top of Google when you search for something. The advertiser pays Google every time someone clicks on their ad.  With search engine marketing, you can bid on keywords to make sure your ad appears when people search for those words.

Do you really need both?

In most cases, having both would be ideal, but if your budget can’t stretch to cover both then at least one would be better than none. The two different strategies are not mutually exclusive so it is possible to rank well in search engines without an investment in paid ads. The question is really which will give you a quicker return on investment – SEO or SEM? 

There are some times when it could work out more cost-effective to focus on one strategy over the other. If your target audience is largely local then pay per click advertising might be a good choice as it targets people in close proximity to your business. Similarly, if you’re looking for international exposure, then investing in SEO may be the best way forward. Another factor that should influence what kind of marketing strategy you pursue is whether there are any particular competitors that are dominating the market with their use of either SEO or SEM.


However, SEO should be considered before SEM because it will help lead more people to your site from unpaid searches which will then convert into customers with a successful SEM campaign.

If you care about the best results, you should reach for the support of experts. When choosing an agency, check if it offers services in both of these fields. Thanks to this, you will know that your website will be cared for from every possible side. Do your homework and find the best SEO Liverpool or agency in your hometown. 

Wrapping up

When you’re starting a business or working on marketing for an existing one, it’s important to understand the difference between SEO and SEM. Both are critical to driving traffic to your website, but they work in different ways. By using both strategies, you can ensure that your website is visible to potential customers both organically and through paid search.

Main photo: Farzad/

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