The Difference Between SEO and SEM

Internet Marketing

Anyone who is new to the world of Internet marketing quickly discovers that the industry, like most others, comes with a collection of acronyms and jargon. It isn?t necessary for the average business owner to become intimately familiar with most of these terms, but there are a few that are critical to the success of any commercial website and, in turn, the success of the business.

Two of these critical terms are SEO and SEM. If you?re building a web presence or having someone establish such a presence for you, then you?ll hear ?SEO? and ?SEM? countless times. Rather than being highly technical terms that someone who doesn?t practice Internet marketing will never be able to feel that they fully understand, SEO and SEM are more fundamental. When you understand what these acronyms stand for, and what they mean, you?ll begin to recognize how the world of online commerce truly operates and how to make your website stand out from the competition.


Let?s start with ?SEO? because it?s a term you may have heard before. ?SEO? is an acronym for ?Search Engine Optimization.? Basically, it refers to using tools and strategies that will make your website place higher in search engine results pages.

SEO frequently is referred to as being ?organic? because a high placement on Google, Yahoo, Bing or other search engines comes about as a result of the quality of the content on your website. The better the quality of your content, the higher it will rank in search results, which means that Internet users are more likely to click on the link to your website. That gives you a higher opportunity to generate a conversion.

SEO techniques are divided into two categories: on-site and off-site. When you have a strong combination of on-site and off-site SEO, you are bound to rank higher in search results.

On-site SEO

This SEO category refers to the content on your website. Keyword-rich, well-written website copy and blog posts are two of the main components that will drive traffic to your website via search engine results. When the pages on your website are filled with meaningful, helpful content, people are more likely to stick around and browse for a while. This translates to conversions and lasting customer relationships.

Other SEO tools include improving page load times, ensuring that the website is using clean code and connecting to social media. All of these factors and others may affect how well your website ranks among search results.

Off-site SEO

Major search engines do not just look at the content of your website when deciding where to rank it in results. They also look for authoritative websites in your niche that link back to your website. To the search engines, this is one of the hallmarks of a high-quality website. The reasoning is that if respectable websites have links to your website, then your website also must be respectable.

Off-site SEO requires quite a bit of work. Regular press releases for new products, additional services, sales and promotions all may lead to authoritative websites linking back to your website. Providing guest blog posts at well-known websites is another helpful strategy.


Simply stated Search Engine Marketing is a macro strategy designed to drive traffic to a website. SEO plays a big role in Search Engine Marketing, which is a broader concept that includes pay-per-click or cost-per-click ads along with marketing via social media.

A component of SEM is the use of paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages. People often click on these prominent advertisements, which takes them directly to the website. From there, the quality of the SEO on the website takes over.

A company?s social media presence also has a direct tie to SEM. Use of services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may entice a potential customer to click over to a particular company?s website where the expert use of SEO encourages them to keep browsing.

Both SEM and SEO must be continuously pursued. Rather than being one-and-done projects, these are ongoing activities that are designed to ensure the long-term success of your website. Accordingly, it is vital to work with a company that understands these concepts inside and out. Click here to learn more about SEO, SEM and how to optimize your company?s online visibility today.