SEO or SEM, what’s the difference?

Search results can greatly affect the number of visitors to your website, but often SEO and SEM get confused.

Deciding whether to focus on SEO or SEM in your google presence.
SEO or SEM? Let’s discuss.

What is SEO?

SEO means search engine optimization and refers to the optimizations made to a website for it to show up higher organically (not paid) in search results.  While complex in nature, factors like quality, speed, titles, links, structure, shares, history, freshness of content, etc. are the main variables that go into how high you show up in a search result on google.

What is SEM?

SEM means search engine marketing and refers to paid search ads. These are the top results you see when searching with [Ad] next to them.

Recently when searching for “search engine optimization” all of the companies at the top (including the one who said they were #1 rated) did not show up on the first page of the results organically through SEO but did show up through paid ads (SEM).

So, what does this mean?

Unless you have a ton of traffic coming to your website already, have had a website up and running for a while, and have a high-quality site with great content that is updated frequently, to make the quickest impact on your business you probably want to invest in SEM over SEO.

Search Ads.

Search ads are especially useful for local businesses and services because normally if someone is searching for something they are already in the market for it. They are at the bottom of the sales funnel and closer to making a purchase.

Google’s AdWords.

You can get started with search ads through Google’s AdWords platform.

Anna Konchar

Founder of Advisori, MBA + Digital Advertising Expert. I help businesses use digital advertising to grow their bottom line by focusing on results and ROI. Most days you'll find me plugging away in Facebook Power Editor, reading a ridiculous amount of “list” articles, and daydreaming about my next travel adventure.