As competition for online presence and search ranking grows, the acronyms SEO and SEM have become buzzwords in the internet world.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be confusing concepts to understand. Aren’t they the same thing? What’s the difference between them? In this post we want to help answer these questions.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is, in simple terms, the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial search results on search engines. It is the act of trying to improve search engine ranking for your website – with the aim of getting it to the top of the first page of results. If someone types in the question “What is SEO?” into Google’s search bar, the results that appear towards the top often get there thanks to SEO.
What does SEO entail?
Google displays links to pages it considers relevant and authentic, and measures this by analysing the number and quality of links from other web pages to your content. If you have great content that people respect and find useful, it is more likely that they will link to your pages – showing Google that your pages are engaging and trustworthy. To improve your ranking, there are 3 important steps to remember:
- Write useful and interesting content that contains words and phrases used by people to search for your products.
- Share this content on social media, make it easier for people to discover it and, therefore, easier to share and link back to it.
- Keep doing the above!
So what is SEM?
SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. Originally, SEO was included as a part of the overall activity of SEM (and in general terms still is). In today’s world, however, SEM is being increasingly distinguished as the process of gaining traffic and visibility in search engines through paid efforts. It involves the promotion of websites through advertised links, with the aim of increasing the chance of appearing at the top of search results with a paid ad. When you type “Improving SEO” in Google’s search bar, the first result with a little yellow “Ad” tag next to the link is a website that has used SEM to appear there.
Is SEM more important than SEO?
While we often differentiate SEO as unpaid search engine marketing and SEM as paid search engine marketing, both still fall into the general activity of getting your product links to the top of search results. Today, if you want to be successful at selling on the internet, you need to have a good combination of both SEO and SEM. In other words, you need to be visible and gain traffic from both organic and advertised links.