In the world of online growth and page rankings, SEO and SEM are often used interchangeably. However, they have many differences. SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of pursuing and generating more traffic directly from organic, free, editorial, or natural search results within search engines. SEM, on the other hand, is the process of gaining traffic and visibility from search engines with paid search listings and efforts. Search marketing serves as the overarching term that includes both SEO and SEM.
Search engine marketing was once used as the overall term that included both SEO and paid listings. However, in recent years the industry changed and now uses SEM to only describe paid search. Paid search ads, paid search advertising, PPC (pay-per-click) and CPC (cost-per-click) are all a big part of overall SEM. For beginners, Google Adwords is the main paid search platform that businesses use, followed by Bing Ads and Yahoo. While each platform offers its own instructions for getting started, it’s easier than ever to incorporate SEM into an overall strategy and see page rankings and site visits rise.
In addition to SEM, SEO is equally important from an organic perspective. SEO directly relates relevant content to users. With no shortcuts, SEO is typically time-intensive but rewarding for both page rankings and site visits. With many ways to conduct SEO, it’s important to remain abreast of various aspects and areas of improvement. On-page and off-page SEO often includes:
- Incorporating selective keywords organically into meta descriptions, title tags, heading tags, alt text and other relevant text
- Social sharing compatibility within content, as well as bookmarking and signals
- Blog posts and blog copy that is written and optimized for both keywords and quality
- Properly formatted and clean page URLs
- Fast and optimized page load speed
- Incorporated with Google authorship
- Natural, high-quality backlink profiles that link naturally to the site
The main difference between SEO and SEM is that search engine optimization is only one component of search engine marketing. Although they both work hand in hand, it’s important to note that the terms SEO and SEM should not be used interchangeably. However, with a paired effort of both SEO and SEM, companies can see an even greater increase and better provide content for customers. Both SEO and SEM aim at increasing visibility in all search engines while involving other methods such as PPC advertising.
In regards to legal marketing, SEO and SEM are incredibly important. All forms of marketing content should be paired with relevant keywords that perform well in both SEO and SEM. Relevant keywords throughout content make it easier for customers to find answers and rely more on the business.
While many argue that organic SEO is the most important area to focus on, it can’t be denied that SEM and paid search plays a strong role in improving rankings and paid traffic. Since each company varies, it’s essential to determine what works best for your business and budget and seek to continually improve from there. Throughout the process, it’s important to fully understand the different and resources needed to maintain growth. With a smaller budget but adequate resources, SEO is often the best course to pursue in the beginning. With a larger budget and amount of resources, SEM can play a large role and create positive growth for the business.