Search marketing is a strategy for increasing exposure, ranking, and traffic. It includes search engine optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

SEM and SEO are important in increasing traffic and visibility in search results. Both strategies are opposites, but they achieve the same goals.

Any digital marketing expert should be familiar with these two concepts and understand their relevance in the marketing world.

What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

The difference between search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) is that SEO focuses on organic search traffic. In contrast, SEM focuses on traffic generated from both organic and paid searches.

Think of it this way: SEO’s purpose is for your website to appear in organic search results. SEO is an ongoing process and helps your website rank high on Google Search Results. You may also get your website to appear in the paid section of search results using pay-per-click (PPC).

On the other hand, SEM is when you use both SEO and PPC to generate traffic from search engines. So, SEM is a category that encompasses SEO and PPC, and that is, SEO is “inside” the SEM umbrella category.

What is SEO?SEO

According to Statista, Google accounted for more than 80% of worldwide search traffic in 2021, with the other major search engines trailing at 7% less. Thus, while Google is the primary emphasis when discussing search engines in SEO, it is important to remember that Bing, Baidu, and Yahoo are all contenders (but barely).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process through which search engines “crawl” content to determine its effectiveness in attracting traffic. Search engines will evaluate a range of elements in a website (such as keywords, tags, and link titles) and rank it for its ability to draw organic traffic.

Main features of SEO

Google’s algorithm incorporates over 200 ranking signals. SEO is classified into four major subcategories: Keyword research, On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, Technical SEO, and User interaction signals.

  • Keyword research

Understanding the words and phrases your customers enter into search engines is the goal of keyword research. This is possible using keyword research tools such as Semrush, Ahrefs, Google Trends etc.,

  • On-page SEO

This is the process of optimizing your website for terms your target audience searches for in Google, Bing, and other search engines. One recommended on-page SEO practice is incorporating your primary keyword in your title tag, meta description, and webpage URL.

  • Off-page SEO

This entails obtaining trust and authority indicators from other websites. This mostly consists of creating high-quality backlinks to your website. However, Google may also utilize off-page signals such as E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) and social media sharing to assess your site’s authority.

  • Technical SEO

This is where you ensure that search engines such as Google can crawl and index all of the pages on your website. Making sure your pages load quickly is also part of technical SEO. And that your site architecture is configured properly.

  • User Interaction Signals

How people engage with your site helps Google determine whether your page is a suitable match for someone’s search. 

For example, if your website has a high bounce rate, this might indicate that your page isn’t providing the answer to someone’s question. And if Google thinks your page isn’t a good fit for that keyword, they may lower your ranks or take you off the first page.

What is SEM?SEM

SEM is an online marketing strategy that promotes a website by boosting its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) through optimization and advertising.

SEM is a broad term that covers SEO and PPC. So what we mentioned SEO also applies to SEM. However, in addition to SEO, SEM includes PPC. And PPC is a distinct area with its characteristics, best practices, and so on.

Features of PPC

  • Bidding

Whether you’re using Google Ads or Bing Ads, paid search ads its all about bidding. PPC allows you to bid on a specific keyword, and your ad will appear when someone searches for that term/phrase.

The ad ranks are generally proportionate to how much someone bids. Hence, your ad will appear first if you are the highest bidder.

You pay the amount you bid whenever anyone clicks on your ad. The cost per click (CPC) is the amount you pay each time someone clicks on your advertisement.

  • Quality Score 

It’s Google’s approach to determining whether your ad is a suitable match for whatever someone is searching for.

Google generates a Quality Score based on a mix of click-through rates, landing page quality, and the total Quality Score of your Google Ad account. Furthermore, if your ad has a high-Quality Score, you’ll get a discount on each click.

  • Ad Copy

Writing appealing ad copy is a significant component of succeeding with PPC.

Why? Excellent ad wording = excellent CTR. A high CTR corresponds to a high-Quality Score. That is, you spend less for the same click.

The inverse is also true. Your Quality Score will suffer if your copy does not entice readers to click. And your PPCs will become prohibitively expensive.

  • Account management and Ad groups

This is where you utilize the data in your Google Ads account to improve your ad expenditure.

Comparison SEO vs SEM

Expansion Search Engine Optimization Search Engine Marketing
Meaning Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process through which search engines “crawl” content to determine its effectiveness in attracting traffic. It is an online marketing strategy that involves promoting a website by boosting its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) through optimization and advertising.
Relationship SEO is a part of SEM. SEO and PPC are both parts of SEM.
Traffic Volume Controllable Obscure and long-term
Search Natural (Organic) Paid
Cost Inexpensive Expensive
Time Takes a long time to show results Takes a short time to show results


How do SEO and SEM work together?


SEM is a paid approach with an immediate impact, whereas SEO is an organic strategy with long-term results.

Creating a paid ad that captures the attention of a specific audience with a compelling message and calls to action (CTA) is only a conversion driver for the time being and for as long as you are ready to invest. 

Did you know that 93% of digital marketers employ paid advertising?

SEM instantly brings traffic, hits, leads, possibilities, and so on to your website, but it is not always a long-term traffic strategy. When your advertising budget is exhausted, your SEM approach suffers.

SEO, on the other hand, employs a different strategy, and SEO is regarded to have a far higher impact on users than SEM.

You may ask why? 

It’s because the first organic result has a CTR of 28.5%, but a sponsored ad has a click-through-rate (CTR) of only 10%. 

Organic search accounts for 53% of site traffic, while sponsored search accounts for 27%. While SEO and SEM can improve traffic, combining the two gives the best results.

But fret not; you can successfully combine SEO and SEM.

Is combining SEO and SEM more effective? 

Yes, if you do it correctly, your ads compliment your SEO strategy.

Say, for instance, you’re in the healthcare industry,

SEO: By following best practices for making your hospital website more search engine and user-friendly, you may gradually enhance your organic rating (move up in the search results). 

SEM: With the right ad approach, search advertisements may instantly acquire your sponsored website listing highly prominent placement.

Wrapping up

SEM is a short-term approach to increase traffic and boost your website’s conversions. To increase your website’s quality traffic, mixing SEO and SEM is ideal.

While you focus on SEO, a well-optimized SEM campaign will deliver visibility. Your combined approaches should function well when you’ve mastered SEO and SEM.

SEM may be a better option if you need to create search traffic rapidly and cannot wait six months or more for SEO to work. Even in this case, Trysocio has cases to help you out. 

If you want to understand how organic search engine rankings via SEO can get you more business or increase your business leads using the google ad campaign services, feel free to browse our digital marketing services and call us at 09446222280 or fill the form below.

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