SEO vs SEM: Difference between SEO & SEM 

The difference between SEO and SEM is simply that Search Engine Optimization is part of Search engine marketing or Search marketing as it is widely known.


Definition of SEM & SEM

Search Engine Marketing is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages.

Search Engine Optimization is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.

SEM includes the use of paid search, such as pay per click (PPC) listings and advertisements. SEM strictly includes PPC campaigns and activities.

Despite the fact that SEO is one of the two components of search engine marketing, many marketers when they refer to SEM they mean PPC advertising.


Basically they consider Paid Search Advertising as being the only component of SEM. In this case, you can do a comparison between the two.

Similarities Between SEO & SEM

  • Helps your brand appear in search results
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Require knowing your audience
  • Use keyword research to uncover popular search terms
  • Target specific keywords
  • Require testing continuous optimization

Differences Between SEO & SEM

  • SEM results include Ad’ designation & have Ad’ extensions while SEO results appear as organic results & have featured snippets.
  • SEM operates on Pay Per Click each time a user clicks while SEO a user pays nothing.
  • SEM is shown to targetted audience while SEO is shown to everyone
  • SEM provides immediate results while SEO results take time
  • SEM works great for testing unlike SEO
  • SEO provides value over time unlike SEM
  • SEm has lower click through rate while SEO has higher clicks

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