Smargasy logo on a black background.

SEO vs. SEM: What’s The Difference?

There are a number of approaches, tools, and strategies that comprise a digital marketing campaign. Two of the most important ones are SEO and SEM. You might hear these terms being used interchangeably. However, despite their having the same goal, they are not the same thing. For best results, a comprehensive digital marketing campaign should use both SEO and SEM strategies.

Understanding SEO

SEO refers to search engine optimization. It’s a cornerstone of digital marketing and its ultimate goal is to drive sales by attracting more potential customers to the company’s website. SEO relies on drawing in web traffic organically. That is, it doesn’t use paid advertisements. Instead, it emphasizes the technical and non-technical optimization of the website, which allows the Internet property to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). 

A high ranking is critical for digital marketing success. One analysis of billions of search results revealed that the first result has an average click-through rate of 28.5%. In contrast, the second and third results have averages of 15% and 11% respectively, while the 10th result has a much lower 2.5% click-through rate. SEO boosts a website’s ranking in order to increase its click-through rate. It accomplishes this through a number of tactics, such as the strategic use of keywords and phrases, the application of internal and external linking, and the optimization of site architecture.

Understanding SEM

SEM refers to search engine marketing. Its goal is the same as that of SEO—to increase traffic to a website. However, unlike SEO, SEM accomplishes this not by boosting SERP rankings, but by using paid advertisements. That is why this approach is often referred to as “paid search” or “pay-per-click” (PPC) marketing. Note that SEM still requires keyword research, however, as the paid advertisements must be properly optimized in order to attract more clicks and generate more conversions.

From SEO to SEM and beyond, you can count on the digital marketing team at Smargasy Inc. to position your brand for long-term success. You can request your free consultation by clicking the button at the top of your screen or get in touch at (239) 214-8592.

If you found this article helpful, please share it!

Want more

Scroll to Top