The difference between SEO and SEM

The difference between SEO and SEM Mars664

The difference between SEO and SEM


There are two types of results in search engines, paid and organic. The paid They appear when a company pays a search engine, such as Google, for clicks. The organic They are the ones that appear because the search engine considers them most relevant to the query made. Thus, a website can increase its traffic by appearing in organic and paid results, using SEO and SEM.

Both methods, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM), are useful for developing a more complete strategy to increase traffic to your site. Let's start by covering the basics of these.


What is SEO?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of optimizing content so that it is discovered organically in the search results of a query.

Search engines consider multiple factors when ranking sites for a query; In general terms these factors are:

  • On-page SEO:

How optimized the individual pages are, with easy-to-read content and relevant keywords.

  • Off-page SEO:

What is done outside of a site to improve its ranking, including backlinks, citations, and reviews.

  • Technical SEO:

Technical changes that allow search engines to crawl, index and classify content more efficiently.

What is SEM?

SEM (search engine marketing) is the set of tools and strategies that help optimize the visibility of websites through search engines. An SEM marketing strategy can include the use of SEO as well as the use of PPC (pay per click) results. PPC is a form of advertising in which the company must pay an amount to the search engine for each click it gets; An example would be the use of Google Ads to show a site in the first results of a query on Google.


In an SEM strategy, should you use SEO, PPC, or both?

In many situations, SEO is seen as the only strategy to follow since it grows a page organically for free. But this is not always the case. Sometimes SEO is the best option, other times PPC is more effective, and sometimes the combination of both can be the strategy that gives the best results.

The SEM strategy to use depends on each situation, so below we will demonstrate different cases in which SEO and PPC can be more effective.

Very competitive words

When entering a very competitive market with large, established companies, it can be very difficult to climb the organic rankings. It could take years of work to reach the first page of results for the most competitive words there are, the chances of being able to climb the rankings in the short or medium term are slim.

This is not why you should abandon SEO, ranking for queries will take a long time, but in the end it will be worth it. And while you work on ranking your pages, you can take advantage of the benefits of using PPC.

By using PPC you can generate immediate income. Paid traffic is instantaneous, can be managed by budgets, and can be activated or stopped at any time. Consider the cost per click of the keyword you want to promote your page on and look to create profits from the traffic generated to your site.

In addition to promoting your site, using PPC can generate valuable information on keywords. By reviewing your ad campaign report, you can find conversion data for the keywords each ad campaign contained. This information could be used when looking to reinforce the highest value keywords with SEO.

Keywords with many ads

The most profitable keywords tend to attract many PPC advertisers. In a query where four ads appear, it is estimated that about 40% of the clicks go to paid ads, while the rest go to organic results.

An investment in both SEO and PPC would allow you to get the maximum possible traffic from keywords of this style.

Informative keywords

Most queries made on search engines are informational, where the user is looking to learn, not buy.

For example, a query searching for “baking time for lasagna.” It is unlikely that the person asking this question is looking to buy the ingredients for a lasagna; Rather, you would be looking for instructions for baking the lasagna for which you probably already have the ingredients.

Despite having a low cost per click, a company would not look to invest in PPC for “lasagna baking time.” The cost of PPC versus informational keyword earnings becomes quite bad, there is a lot of traffic from people who are not looking to buy the product.

On these occasions, SEO is the best strategy to position your page organically in a high position.

The importance of SEO and SEM to develop the best strategy

SEO and SEM are two topics that work together and it is very important to know them. Understanding in which situations you should use each technique between SEO and PPC will be the key to developing the best search engine marketing (SEM) strategy. Sometimes it will be SEO alone, other times it will be PPC, and sometimes the combination of both will generate the best results.