SEO vs. SEM – Is There a Difference?

Are search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) different things?

Of course! Otherwise, they’d have the same name. Haha!


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SEO and SEM have many differences.

SEO uses organic strategies to gain visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).

There are three categories of SEO tactics:

  • On-page SEO targets a keyword for each page of website to rank higher in search engines. Strategies like keyword research, content creation and keyword optimization help search engines understand a page of content, potentially leading to a higher rank.
  • Technical SEO optimizes a site’s non-content parts and the site itself to improve its backend structure and foundation. This improves the user and search crawler experience, which can result in higher rankings.
  • Off-page SEO increases a website’s reputation as a thought leader in the industry. Link building from high-quality sites shows search engines that the site is trustworthy, which increases its rank.

SEM uses paid strategies to gain visibility in SERPs. Known as paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, this includes both the steps needed to set up and optimize the ads and set a budget for them.

  • SEM involves conducting keyword research and creating campaigns that target the top keywords for your industry, products or services. When users type in keywords, they see tailored ads in the SERPs. The company is charged when a user clicks on its ad.

Is SEO or SEM better for marketing your business?

Your decision depends on many factors:

  • What are your competitors using?
  • How well do you know your industry?
  • How long is your typical customer buying cycle?
  • What’s the average cost-per-click in your industry?
  • How old is your business?
  • What’s the status of your website?

Need help with your SEO or SEM marketing strategy?

Let BARQAR know! Trust our marketing experts to help you build and execute the ideal SEO or SEM strategy. Get in touch today.

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