5 Differences between SEO and SEM

SEO versus SEMemoji thinking

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is a component of Search Engine Marketing. Google’s Knowledge Graph defines SEO as the method of maximizing the number of visitors, both new and returning, to a particular website by ensuring that the website appears high in the search engine result page (SERP). Typically, this means the first top ten searches on Google’s SERP. While the SEO tactics changes frequently due to Google’s algorithm, an evergreen aspect of SEO is that it still consists of on-page and off-page SEO activities.

On-page SEO includes:

  •  Including high performing keywords naturally into title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags (H1, H2), alt text for images, call to action (CTA), unique value proposition (UVP), and many more
  • Content such as blog posts should be well written, free of grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Content that has large size images should be comprised, introduced as a thumbnail, or other methods to optimize the page’s loading speed.
  •  Google authorship incorporated
  • Include social sharing icons in your webpage
  •  Use canonical tag if the content you are sharing is also somewhere else on the web
  • And the list goes on…

Off-page SEO includes:

  • Integrating high-quality natural backlinks (aka link bait)
  • Integrating internal links to other pages on your website
  • Social sharing icons
  • Social bookmarking such as Reddit, Twitter, Pinterest, Stumbleupon, Dribble, Digg
  • Include no-follow attributes for paid ads on your webpage
  • Include no index for paid links or links that you don’t want your ranking authority to be passed on.

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing is a marketing strategy where brands or companies use paid search such as pay-per-click (PPC) listing and advertisements to boost their presence on the web. If we were to come up with an equation, SEM = SEO +Paid Search+ display ad+ Social media marketing.

In my humble opinion, a piece of content cannot succeed without organic SEO even if a brand or company pours money into their SEM strategy. While in some instances, PPC is more effective than SEO, if the purpose is to have immediate visibility. Organic SEO will not show up immediately. Optimistically we can expect to see the result in 6 months, but realistly, it can take up to a year to see the result.
Did this clear up your understanding about SEO and SEM? This infographic may help you remember the fundamentals of an on-site SEO. Hubspot also has tons of educational information on their blog.

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