SEO and SEM: What’s the Difference?

SEM and SEO: What’s the Difference? 

SEM and SEO have the same primary goal: to drive more quality leads to your brand. To accurately measure the value of a combined SEM and SEO strategy, it is important to understand what each technique individually brings to the table.

SEM primarily refers to paid search advertising, like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, to appear higher in search results. Paid advertising uses keywords and targeting to display ads to specific audiences based on demographics, location, purchase history, online behavior, and other factors. Paid search results always appear at the top of the SERP (search engine results page) and are marked with the word “Ad” before the listing.

SEO is a search engine marketing service that focuses on optimizing your website to appear higher in unpaid search results to capture more organic traffic. Ways to do this include:

  • On-page SEO (keyword research, targeted content, meta information)
  • Technical SEO (website speed, indexing, mobile-friendliness)
  • Off-site SEO (backlinks, influencer marketing) 

While SEO and SEM both offer unique advantages, businesses can successfully leverage them together for even better results. Here are some of the key benefits of using both search engine marketing services together in your digital marketing strategy:

Higher visibility and increased confidence in your brand

SEM and SEO rely heavily on strong, relevant keywords to drive traffic. When you target similar keywords in both techniques, the chances are higher that your business will appear at the top of organic and paid search results for the same terms. Seeing your business appear twice will create more brand awareness and amplify your credibility.

SEM insights can improve your SEO campaign 

SEO is designed to provide a solid online foundation for your small business, but it takes time to see results. On the other hand, SEM produces quick results and allows you to measure the success of your campaign right away. By looking at your paid advertising campaign analytics, you can determine what consumers are searching for and which ads are performing well in real-time. These insights offer valuable information about which keywords to use in the content, title tags, and meta descriptions on your website for SEO optimization.

Combining SEM and SEO provides consistent growth

While the benefits of SEO support the long-term growth of a small business, using this technique alone could take up to two years of consistent work to see the desired results. Once your website is optimized for SEO, it takes time for Google to recognize it as a credible source and produce higher rankings. 

In contrast, because paid ads can achieve high search rankings immediately, SEM is an effective short-term strategy to increase awareness about your brand and drive traffic to your website quickly. However, SEM can’t produce long-term results the way SEO does. Once a paid campaign ends, the traffic it generates ends, too. Integrating both of these search engine marketing services into your digital marketing strategy can help your business meet long-term and short-term traffic goals.

While SEO and SEM are two different approaches to drawing traffic to your website, they can work hand-in-hand to drive success and gain a competitive advantage. For example, businesses using both organic SEO techniques and paid advertising techniques see an average of 25% more clicks and 27% more profits than using a single method. The higher you rank in search results for keywords related to your business, the more likely searchers will click to visit your website. Over time, those clicks can turn into leads and sales.

If you are interested in learning more about boosting your search engine rankings, the digital marketing team at Generation Media can help! Our digital marketing agency offers professional search engine marketing services to help our clients rank higher in paid search and organic search results.

Contact us today to learn how GM Digital can create a custom digital marketing campaign to help you achieve your advertising goals and drive better results for your business.