What are the main differences between an SEO and a SEM?

Search Engine Optimization(SEO) is the part of Search engine marketing(SEM). The goal for both is same to increase visibility and traffic in search engines for your website. Basically, SEO is for organic traffic whereas SEM is for paid traffic.

Difference between SEM and SEO

Difference between SEM and SEO

SEO is about optimizing your website to get better rankings in the search results while SEM goes beyond SEO. Depending on your marketing goals, you may use SEO, SEM, or both as part of your campaign. Each tool has its own unique advantages. The key to success is pointing the search engine strategy for the results you’re looking to generate.

What is a search engine optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your website to help gain organic traffic from search engines. By having a well-optimized site, it means that it is understood better by the search engines. SEO is directly related to satisfying your online visitors. 


The SEO industry is continually changing due to the frequent changes made to search engine algorithm. But, there is one aspect of SEO that stays constant, and this is on-page and off-page activity.

There is typically two types of SEO:

  1. on-page SEO
  2. off-page SEO

Important components of SEO

SEO is comprised of this two different components.

On-page SEO component

  • Select proper Keywords
  • Blog posts and updated copy.
  • Clean and formatted URLs.
  • Optimized page load speed
  • Optimized Titles, meta descriptions, title tags, alt tags etc
  • Social sharing integration

Off-page SEO component

  • Link building on your website
  • create a high-quality backlink
  • Social sharing signals
  • Social bookmarking

What is a search engine marketing (SEM)?

SEM is the marketing process with a goal of getting more visibility in search engines either by getting more free traffic (SEO) or paid traffic (Paid search advertising). Search Engine Marketing is over and above SEO but it’s only a subset of your overall Internet Marketing Strategy.

Many people start with a good Web site and invest the most time on SEO, but don’t necessarily follow through as well another very important component, and that is search engine marketing.

SEM is a broader term than SEO and is used to different options available on search engine’s technology, including paid ads. SEM is often used to describe acts associated with researching, submitting and positioning a website within search engines.  It includes search engine optimization, paid traditional ads and other search-engine related services and functions.

Important components of SEM

Some most important common components on SEM practice:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Use keywords and keywords analysis tools.
  • Build traditional ads.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC)  advertising campaigns.


Sonali Hirave

Sonali Hirave

Sonali is the Co-founder of Gliterd Software, which provides Martech tool Yeello for SMEs to grow their online business. She is passionate about Marketing Technology (Martech) & has more than 2+ years of professional experience as a designer & digital marketer. Sonali is pursuing her masters in Computer Science from Pune University.

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