November 1, 2023
2 min read

What’s the big difference??? A lot of people confuse SEO and SEM, they both sound like the same thing but they are two very different approaches to becoming visible on search engine results pages. They’re two very different methods of marketing that brands can use to reach their target on search engines like Google and Bing.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a tactic to improve the quality and quantity of website traffic to a site from these search engines. This uses organic methods to appear in search results. Brands optimize their websites to create the best results for a specific search that deserves to rank at the top of Google. There are four key factors that play into this.

  1. Technical SEO looks at the technical structure of a site like site loading speed, mobile friendliness, crawlability, structured data, indexing and more.
  2. On-Page SEO optimizes factors on the site that helps search engines understand the content in context, including things like H1 and meta tags, titles, and image alt tags of the site.
  3. Content is still king, it’s one of Google’s biggest ranking factors. Without relevant and good content that matches the users’ searches, your site won’t rank in the top spot.
  4. Off-Page SEO focuses on building trust and authority of a site in a search engines eye by connecting the user to high quality sites. If the search engine sees that a user trusts a site, it’s more likely it will rank higher in the position.

A mix of all these four techniques is necessary for a successful SEO strategy.

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is using paid ads to get visibility on search engines. This can come in the form of search ads or display ads which are the two most common types of paid ads. Creating a successful SEM campaign consists of a few steps.

  1. Identify relevant keywords to your brand through comprehensive keyword research.
  2. Know your target audience. This will help reach the right users as they already have intent when researching about your brand or similar products.
  3. Ad copy, good ad copy will get the clicks. This simply consists of a title, display URL and a short description. Clear, compelling, and specific copy makes the best SEM ad copy.

Instead of implementing one or the other, both strategies should complement each other. Users will use search engines to do their research and they’ll find it through organic results (SEO) or by paid results (SEM). SEO and SEM might be different strategies but they both ultimately work to drive people to your website relying heavily on keywords.  A successful search campaign is achievable with the proper optimizations on both SEO and SEM.

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