SEO vs. SEM: What’s the Difference?
If you’ve had any access to the internet in the past 15 years, you’ve at least heard of-if not used and researched-SEO or SEM. Few people, however, understand the difference between the two. Many understand that it is the single most important tool on the internet to successfully marketing your business, but what are the key differences and how does this relate to your specific business’ needs?
First off, understanding what marketing for the internet entails is essential, before we delve into the differences between SEO and SEM techniques. Internet marketing varies from old fashioned (pre-internet) marketing in that not only is its medium completely different, but its strategy is as well. Of course, the same goal exists: to best communicate with the world at large in order to sell your products and services. With internet marketing; however, you need to find out what people are searching for when they are online (keyword terms used), how that relates to your products/services, and how to set up your site and communication tools to best answer those needs, to get the most traffic to your site.
Search Engine Optimization is the free to low-cost way of marketing your site’s services and programs without a lot of intricate marketing strategy. SEO can best be described as having the following characteristics:
It is a type of SEM or Search Engine Marketing.
SEO uses site optimization-such as the implementation of site meta tags in titles, descriptions, and content-to improve search engine rank for specific keyword search terms.
SEO uses sites optimization to promote natural inclusion in site listings, directories, and websites.
Search Engine Marketing has two working definitions. The first is just the general way that site owners market their products and services through the internet-which umbrellas the term SEO. The second deals with a more specific definition that defines SEM as a group of paid marketing techniques to get traffic to your site. SEM can best be described as having the following characteristics:
SEM is the artificial means to promoting your site and site products and services.
SEM uses techniques such as paid directory inclusion, standard online ads, and PPC/CPC strategy.
SEM implements costly programs such as Google Adwords to compete for search engine rank for specific keywords.