Digital Newbies: How to distinguish SEM & SEO?

Generally, Search Marketing includes Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), both solutions are trying to enhance visibility by ranking your website in higher Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), so as to drive website traffic.

They sound similar, how to distinguish SEM and SEO? You have to understand the basic definition first. 

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is referring to paid advertisements, advertisers will pay a search engine to show their ad, hence having the opportunity to put promotional messages/websites in front of motivated customers who are highly intents to buy. 

Advertisers will bid on high potential keywords based on customer behavior, that’s why search ad often known by the term “Pay-per-click ad”. There are a variety of search ad formats (i.e. Google Shopping Ads) and advanced features to enhance visibility and attractiveness (i.e. Price Extension, Auto Countdown). 

Together with attractive/creative message (basically, we need “Title and Description, also known as T&D), we are able to encourage searchers to click your website or landing page for more details. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO, is different from SEM because advertisers don’t pay for traffic or clicks, but pay for their own website optimization (sometimes SEO can be free, depending on the in-house talents and ways to optimize). We do SEO to rank websites higher in the given free spot of SERPs. In the free spot, we call the result “Organic Search Result” while the search ad is named “Paid Search Results”. 

Compare with SEM, SEO request more IT skills because SEO performance is mostly related to the website performance, such as loading speed, image size and etc. Other than technical issues, we also need to do SEO content to enhance website relevance.

There are still other optimizations outside the website (we called Off-site SEO). Introduction to SEO (I)

Simply, we create attractive content and strategic search ad strategy with SEM to encourage the customer to do action, but we can build customer confidence and enhance user experiences (UX) with SEO to drive action because once your website ranks highest in organic search results, people will believe your business is more trustworthy, a high relevance content also helps. 

SEM and SEO still have more benefits and features that haven’t been mentioned here, want to know more? Join us to train you up as industry-savvy.

If you are trying to move forward from traditional marketing to digital marketing with your business, contact us for a free consultation, we provide all-around digital services with one-stop services from planning to reporting. Planned to do it yourself? No worry, we have DIY support – Search Ad Health Check Service, assisting you to optimize Google Search Ad campaigns with professional health check service and 1-hour consultation.