The Difference between Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

People often confuse the terms “search engine marketing” and “search engine optimization” with each other and use them interchangeably. This article aims to define each term and point out the differences between the two. After reading the brief discussion herein, you should be able to take full advantage of both online marketing strategies.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a method of online marketing that promotes websites by making them more visible in search engine results pages. The term itself encompasses several strategies that businesses employ in order to increase their visibility in search engines and ensure that they are on top of the results listings as much as possible.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one such strategy that is used as part of a business’ SEM program. SEO is done by identifying the most popular keywords related to a particular business and then making sure that those keywords appear around five times for every 250 words on a site’s page. This can help ensure that the site appears on top of a search engine’s results page.
Other search engine marketing strategies involve paying for sponsored listings. Unlike free submissions where you depend on the effectiveness of your SEO to increase the visibility of your site, sponsored listings ensure that your site is highlighted on the results page of the search engines that you choose to advertise in. You then have to pay the search engine an agreed amount each time a customer clicks on your link as it appears on the results page.

Even in this regard there is a lot of debate. Many people believe that sponsored listings deliver a higher return of investment than SEO and free listings, but others argue that free listings are more cost-effective since you generate more business without having to shell out any amount. The truth is that a healthy combination of the two SEM strategies is the best way to go. Studies show that web users are more likely to click on a link and visit a website that appears both in natural and sponsored listings. And since you generate income by increasing traffic to your site, using both SEO and paid listing to your advantage is definitely the best search engine marketing option for you.

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