SEM vs. SEO – Aren’t They the Same Thing?


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are commonly used interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences between the two and it’s important to understand them both in order to effectively enhance and drive traffic to your website.


SEM uses current search engine technology and marketing techniques to promote a website or special offer, increase traffic to the site, increase sales and generate leads. Most SEM techniques involve spending money to achieve immediate results with higher-ranked listings/placements on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Methods include:

• Pay-per-click ads (text or image)
• Display advertising
• Remarketing
• Directory submissions
• Site map submissions to search engines
• RSS Feeds


SEO serves as a component of SEM. It involves shaping web site content to attract both search engine spiders and human visitors. SEO strategists combine keywords, page optimization, meta tags, link structure, off-site SEO/inbound linking and high-quality content to optimize the site. SEO done right will help organically move a page up in search results. It normally takes longer to see results from SEO than with SEM. However, once a page ranks high, it will generally continue to perform without additional costs.

Good SEO builds will keep bringing you traffic. Good SEM will bring traffic also, however, the moment you stop paying for positions, the traffic stops.


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