SEM vs SEO: What's the Difference?

SEM vs SEO: What’s the Difference?

There are over 63,000 searches on Google every single second. If you’re trying to be the first answer for one of those searches, you need to make sure you’re working on SEO. 

But can marketing give you a boost? That’s where SEM comes into play.

Many people use SEM and SEO interchangeably, but that’s not true. In reality, they cover a lot of similarities, but SEM vs SEO is quite different. 

We’ll cover what you need to know about both, and why that matters. Hopefully, this information will help you decide which should be a priority for you. 

What’s The Difference?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing, and the key difference lies in “marketing.” 

SEO focuses on different tactics that will boost a website’s rankings on Google. SEO is a very specific tactic that’s a part of SEM. Even the best SEM practices won’t hold any ground without some quality SEO work too.

SEM focuses on more on the advertising and marketing side on the internet. Paid ads on Facebook, Google, and Instagram? That’s SEM. SEM also focuses on SMM (social media marketing.) 

SEO Priorities

SEO focuses on a few different practices. The thing is, no practice costs money to engage in, but they’re all pretty labor-intensive. 

SEO focuses on the technical part of your site. Tactics include making sure your site runs efficiently on computers and mobile devices. They focus on making sure URLs are easy to understand. 

They focus on your site’s reputation. They make sure your site is in line with Google’s new E-A-T standards. That means your site can prove it’s Expertise, Authority, and Trust to users. 

SEO also focuses on creating high-quality content for your site. These posts will be optimized for specific keywords. It focuses on building quality backlink profiles. That means other quality sites link back to your site.

As you can see, there’s a lot to handle, so consider getting help. Ignite Digital is an SEO company based in Toronto. 

SEM Priorities

SEM focuses more on marketing. SEO is a part of SEM, but SEM also encompasses picking good ads and marketing on social media. SEM will focus more on engaging with users on media and running PPC campaigns. 

SEM vs SEO: Sometimes You Need Both

As we’ve discussed, SEM vs SEO isn’t quite true. It’s less of a vs and more of a partnership. SEM encompasses everything SEO does. But it also focuses on the marketing and advertising side of the internet. 

Some companies may be able to get a start focusing on SEO. Other companies may need the boost that comes from SEM right away to get up and running. 

Your company’s priorities will depend on your companies specific needs and capabilities. If the company has more funds than available labor, focusing more on SEM might be a better tactic. If the reverse is true, SEO might make sense as a higher priority.

Still curious about SEO, SEM, and digital marketing? Check out our latest tutorials to find more!