The Difference Between SEO and SEM

By Rebecca Murtagh | SEO - Search Engine Optimization

Jan 18

Leveraging the Difference between Organic and Paid Search in Your Digital Marketing Strategy

I came across a blog post today that caught my eye. It spoke to things to do if your SEO wasn’t working. Problem was, the piece was about PPC or paid search.

Which was a very important reminder to myself. Because I tend to speak with SEO peers, and have worked very hard to educate my clients and do so much training, I needed to be reminded that every day there are people thinking about search for the first time. Truth is, over the years I have encountered far more marketers and business executives that don’t understand SEO and SEM than do. (which is why I am so passionate about education and training).

SEO vs SEM – and other Digital Marketing Channels

I’d like to offer a brief explanation between the most common terms, as they relate to search. A great launching point for determining how you will allocate your time and digital marketing budget. If you consider yourself to be ahead of the curve, chances are, this post will be helpful to a colleague or friend that is just entering the realm of SEO, SEM, PPC, Social Media, Mobile Marketing and all the other aspects of digital marketing.

What is SEO?

SEO is Search Engine Optimization of digital assets to be qualify for visibility in the organic results of SRPs (Search Engine Result Pages) when someone conducts a keyword query.

What is SEM?

SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, is the use of paid, or sponsored results in search to achieve visibility on SRPs when someone conducts a keyword query. The ads that appear are the product of a paid advertising model that includes PPC (pay-per-click), CPM, banner ads, mobile ads, etc.

Which is Better, Paid Search or SEO?Small businesses choose Organic SEO over paid search, social and mobile marketing.

Which should you invest your time and money in for best results?
Typically, the balance of SEO, paid search, mobile marketing, social media marketing and traditional media will vary by organization. However, as you can see by the graph representing a recent surveyed Merchant Circle, small business owners state that if they could only choose one marketing channel in which to invest their time and budget, they would choose SEO.

If you could choose only one digital marketing channel which would YOU choose?

About the Author

Speaker, Author, Entrepreneur, Futurist, CEO of an Award-Winning Consultancy and world-renowned expert. ☆ Your Guide to Exponential Growth in an Enlightened Economy ☆ I absolutely LOVE what I do! The enlightened economy is here. If you aren't continually evolving, you WILL be left behind. I have had the pleasure of working with Fortune 500, Silicon Valley start-up, Multi-national brands, Small Business owners, and everything in between. Today, I am passionate about helping entrepreneurs, businesses and brand-builders JUST LIKE YOU connect what you instinctively know with the latest data and science to build a powerful, sustainable business. Need a break-through strategy to build your business, pivot, grow market share, or increase brand equity? Let's talk. To your success!