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What is the Difference Between Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization?

Written by Arif Mauldi, 03 October 2018

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are two marketing tools. Widely known by their acronyms SEM and SEO, both are often used interchangeably without a clear understanding of how they are related and different. They can be confusing, and even if you might have heard them so many times, you still wonder about the differences between them. Yes, they are different and it is important for you to understand their differences.

Getting to know SEO

Before you know the differences between them, it’s better for you to know the right definition of SEO first. SEO is actually a part of SEM. According to Search Engine Land, SEO is defined as “the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial, or natural search results on search engines”. Due to the frequent changes made to Google’s algorithm, the SEO industry is continually changing. However, SEO is still made up of On-Page and Off-Page activities.

Besides its definition, it’s also important for you to know the components which are included in SEO. For On-Page SEO, first includes incorporating selective keyword naturally into title tags, heading tags, to alt text. Second, blog posts and page copy which is optimized and written with quality. Third, Format and cleaning page URLS. Fourth, optimize page load speed. Fifth, Google authorship incorporated. Last but not least, social sharing integration within your content.

Meanwhile, there are at least three things included in Off-Page SEO. First, create a natural backlink profile. This means to have other high qualities sites link to your site naturally. Second, social sharing signals. And third, social bookmarking such as Stumbleupon and Reddit. Off-Page SEO is often referred to as link building. It’s not only about how many links you have pointed to your website but also from where these links are coming from.

Know more about SEM

SEM earns search visibility through paid ads on Google or other search engines. While these ads are commonly referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) ads, there are additional terms used for SEM activities. Some of them are paid search ads, paid search advertising, and cost-per-click (CPC) ads. For PPC ads, you can target potential buyers using relevant keywords and ad copy. These ads will show up in the SERPs pages next to the organic listing.

By that, your company will have a chance to increase the visibility of its web and landing pages and also blog article as well. So, you can conclude that SEM is a marketing process that helps you get more visibility in search engines. This visibility can be obtained by getting more free traffic with SEO or paid search advertising. By using paid search advertising, you can buy advertising space in the search engine results.

Therefore, instead of trying to rank higher and get free traffic, you pay to appear in front of the searches instead. This is where Google Adwords comes in. Google Adwords is the most well-known advertising agency for Public Service Announcement (PSA). PSA allows you to get your ads to appear in the Google search results. You also only need to pay for the clicks on your ads. This is also the cause of why the whole process is called PPC. Other than Adwords, Bing and Yahoo also have a similar system but are not quite widely known as it.

The main difference between SEM and SEO

These two acronyms might seem similar but surely two different things. It is not so confusing since the main difference between them is simply that SEO is a part of SEM. Both processes can help you increase visibility in search engines. However, it’s important to note that SEO is about optimizing your website to get better rankings in the search engine result while SEM goes beyond that. You should never use these two terms interchangeably because although they work hand in hand, they are not (as explained above) the same term.

There you go! Now you can understand the differences between Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) better. To choose the best tactic, evaluate your specific need and ensure that you completely understand these two-term differences

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