SEO vs SEM:
What’s the Difference?

ironinsights-400x103-final

Digital Marketing is a beast. Not only is it ever-changing and evolving, but there are so many gosh darn acronyms.

Marketers love to throw around terms like “SEO” and “SEM”. Some may even think they are interchangeable. But are they really? Well, yes and no.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is part of SEM (Search Engine Marketing), but they aren’t the same thing. Our team of experts dives into the nitty-gritty of SEO vs. SEM, how they’re different, and how focusing on SEM as a whole can reap extreme benefits for your business.

SEM: If SEO and PPC Got Hitched.

SEO and SEM have very similar end goals – to get more traffic to your website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is focused solely on optimizing your website in order to increase traffic from organic search. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) focuses on increasing traffic and search visibility from both organic and paid search.

Essentially, SEO can be its own thing. SEM is like the marriage of SEO and PPC. You can’t have SEM without SEO. SEM is powerful. Optimizing your website for organic search while running paid ads for the same target keywords can enhance your chances of ranking higher on the search results page. If someone sees your company as a paid ad on a search results page, and then scrolls down and sees your company again as an organic listing, they are more likely to trust you and potentially convert.

– Becca Howard, SEO Specialist

decorative
decorative

A Search Algorithm and Paid Advertising Walk Into a Bar…

Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your content’s data in such a way that it aligns with the algorithmic behavior of search engines. This improves your content’s “ranking” and causes your content to appear higher in search results for queries related to your content. Search Engine Marketing is a similar and related process; however, instead of improving your content’s “rank” organically according to the opinionated algorithms that your content is searched on, it utilizes paid advertising methods to promote your content and get it in front of your desired audience.

– Tyler Phass, Front End Developer

Not the Same, but Close!

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is focused on growing website traffic through organic search results. An example of how an organic result could be completed would be finding a keyword that can be used in the website to make the page rank higher in Google based on what users search. Pros: SEO is free! Cons: Sometimes gaining visibility and traffic can take longer without having the resources of paid ads.

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is focused on gaining traffic to the site through both organic searches and paid searches. An example of search engine marketing would be to optimize the website in addition to spending some of a budget on paid ads or promotions for the site. Pros: More people are reached so the likelihood of people visiting your site is higher. Cons: You have to budget for paid advertising.

– Ava Ashby, Marketing Intern

decorative
decorative

The Pros and Cons of Each.

SEO and SEM are not the same. SEO optimizes your website to get higher rankings in the organic search results while SEM goes further. It involves other methods that can get search engine traffic, like PPC advertising. The pros of SEO are they are lasting and trusted results that are good for people. A site that loads quickly and is clean/clear is very important for your business. However, SEO can move slower, you won’t see spikes overnight, there isn’t any guaranteed success and this can be a waste of time and money if you aren’t targeting the right keywords. The pros of SEM are you will get instant results and possibly see your company on page one the same week you set up. You will gain knowledge about who is actually interested in your brand and you have access to A/B testing that allows you to update copy based on performance. However, that comes with a pretty penny; SEM can get pricey and when you stop paying, your results can drop drastically. Looking for an agency to help you make the right decision? You’ve come to the right place, contact us today for more information!

– Samantha Neuhring, Graphic Designer

SEO = Marathon. SEM = Sprint.

SEM refers to the ads with the word “AD” to the left of it on the Google Search Results Page. Advertisers do not pay for an impression (simply the ad being seen) but they do pay every time a user clicks on their ad and goes to their website.
SEO is typically lower on the Google Search Results page but an advertiser does not pay for those clicks.

SEM is a quick way to get eyes on your business and generate traffic and conversions. Building your organic presence (SEO) is a long process. Think of SEO as the marathon and SEM as the sprint. Both are important but function differently.

– Emily Stephens, PPC Specialist

decorative
decorative

Maximize Your Results with SEM.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an important component of SEM (Search Engine Marketing). SEM incorporates both organic and paid search tactics to maximize visibility and traffic. When you combine SEO and PPC within your SEM strategy, you’ll be able to maximize your results and leverage the two towards a common goal. The pros far outweigh the cons for including both SEO and PPC into your strategy. In either case, make sure your organic efforts and paid ad management are continuously monitored and managed to optimize performance.

– Hannah Taylor, Director of Production Services

Both SEM and SEO are Essentials to Your Digital Marketing Strategy.

The biggest difference is that search engine optimization (SEO) efforts focus on organic tactics and traffic, while search engine marketing (SEM) focuses on paid placement (ads) within search engines. We consider SEO a basic requirement for doing business online, and depending on your goals (and when executed correctly) SEM/PPC will be another strategic piece of your digital efforts.

– Aubre Pierce-Lackey, Project Manager

decorative
decorative

Get the Most Out of Your Marketing Efforts with SEM.

SEO, Search Engine Optimization, and SEM, Search Engine Marketing, involve some of the same things, but SEM includes Paid Per Click (PPC) within it. While having your site optimized (SEO) is important, it’s becoming more and more critical to also have PPC campaigns in order to rank higher within search engines. Here at Ironistic, we specialize in both SEO and SEM. To get the most out of your digital marketing experience, talk to us today!

– Anika Mercier, Project Manager

A Holistic Approach to Digital Marketing.

From my experience, SEO is a narrow-focused optimization of your product for a singular goal (higher ranking, higher conversions, etc.) SEM is a more holistic approach that not only includes SEO but manages that optimization over time while making informed suggestions based on a long-term strategy.

– Jose Rubiani, Project Manager

decorative
decorative

Find the Balance Between Paid vs. Unpaid.

SEO draws from results pulled directly from your website’s content, URLs, and tags, while SEM stands for marketing using paid results from Search Engines. There is a place for both in your digital strategy. If you need help navigating the balance, please contact us today.

– Kristen Fischetti, Content Stylist

When Short-Term and Long-Term Tactics Join Forces.

SEO and SEM are not the same, one is designed to deliver long-term results through organic growth and amplification (SEO) while the other (SEM) is a direct and active engagement through paid advertising strategically placed within search engine searches.

– Tre Akins, Business Development Consultant

decorative
decorative

Same Concept, Different Method.

SEO relates to an organic search and SEM is a paid method. They’re the same concept in that both are methods to make you appear in search results from Google, Bing, or any other search engine website.

– Faith Dallmann, Content Stylist

There’s More than One Way to… Drive Traffic.

SEO is driving traffic to your website organically, while SEM is driving traffic and visibility to your website using both SEO and PPC.

– John Spruill II, Digital Strategist

decorative
decorative

All Signs Point to Organic.

Nope, they aren’t the same. SEO focuses on organic traffic while SEM focuses on both organic traffic and paid traffic!

– Kristin Anderson, Project Manager

Starting to Notice a Pattern Yet?

SEO uses organic methods to increase search results while SEM usually uses paid methods.

– Mika Schiller, PPC Specialist

decorative
Request A Quote
Let's take your business to the next level. Fill out the form below to get started!

"*" indicates required fields

Name*
Sign me up for IronMail
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.