Search engine marketing is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages primarily through paid advertising.

SEM and SEO: Learning the Differences

Before you can start planning out your strategic approach to improving your business’s online visibility, you need to understand the terminology used and what it means.

The two core areas within the search marketing industry are:

  • SEO – An approach that uses organic methods to appear in search results.
  • SEM – An approach that uses paid methods to appear in search results.

SEO can often be considered a term that is assimilated with organic content like blog writing, page content with keywords, organic daily social posts, while SEM is often considered any paid efforts like pay-per-click with social platforms like LinkedIn, Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising (formerly known as Bing Ads), TikTok Ads,  Facebook Ads and yes even SnapChat Ads or Amazon Ads.

When to use SEO or SEM

Using SEO tactics, marketers optimize their websites by working through technical SEO, on-page SEO, content creation, and off-page SEO to create the best result for a particular query that deserves to rank at the top of Google.

While with SEO, it can often take months to see results, with SEM, you can be driving clicks in a very short period of time but may still need time with SEM to get conversions (we cover this in our article on marketing strategy techniques).

You can take full control over when ads show and who sees them, making the channel perfect for testing out new strategies, sending traffic to a sale, or for accelerating traffic during quieter periods. You can also use SEM for something called retargeting, where the consumer can see a second version of your ad to reinforce your marketing message.

SEO and SEM and Digital Strategy

After learning the differences, you can see that SEO and SEM shouldn’t be seen as isolated channels, but rather, should be seen as two parts of a larger digital strategy that drives visibility, traffic, and conversions from search engines.

Have questions about how to get your business started in organic or paid platforms? iQe Labs can help you meet your digital strategy needs with SEO and SEM, call us today at 773-339-6076 for a free 30 minute question and answer session or you can book a convenient time using our online calendar system.