The Difference Between SEO and SEM

Most small businesses know the basics of how SEO (Search Engine Optimization) works and how important it is to invest some of their marketing money into helping their business rank high organically on the most popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo.   However; if you ask the average business owner what he knows about SEM (Search Engine Marketing), the response might be a bit different.    While the two words are definitely somewhat interchangeable, SEO and SEM are actually different.

SEO – SEO or search engine optimization is a service that internet marketing companies such as Mr. Pipeline can use to ensure that your website will show up in the search results when typed into a search engined such as Google or Yahoo.   By putting these tactics into place, you’re also increasing the likelihood that your business will rank higher in the search results as well.   This is done through using keywords and keyword analysis that will cause your business to be listed as one of the first ones when people search for the services or products you offer.   The end goal of SEO is to make your business attract a higher level of traffic through this process.   Typically internet searchers select a business that is found on the first or second page of their search results.     SEO professionals strive to make your page be recognized by search engines as having stellar content and being relevant to the searchers needs.   An SEO professional will also implement social media mediums as well as make your site easier to navigate to increase the likelihood of a great user experience.

SEM- When coming up with a marketing strategy, a lot of businesses are willing to invest money in SEO and also a great web site.   However; they often drop the ball in another important arena.  This arena is SEM, or Search Engine Marketing.

SEM is a term that is used to include other options that businesses can implement into their search engine technology like paid ads.  It also includes an option called pay per click that allows a business to advertise their services or products and pay only for those that are clicked on that drive traffic to the website.  Additionally, if you invest money in SEM and there are paid ads for your services, it can increase your SEO ranking.

In broader terms, it’s easiest to describe SEO as a branch of overall SEM services.   Another way to describe the difference is that SEO drives organic traffic through keyword and keyword analysis, whereas SEM is using paid advertising to increase your businesses ranking.   Used together, your business increases it’s chance for driving traffic to your website which will convert to the successful business you’re striving to achieve.


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