How are SEO & SEM different?


SEO stands for search engine optimization ,meanwhile SEM stands for search engine marketing. 

To understand the difference between these two, we have to first understand the meaning of the words individually.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is also known as the process of improving the quality as well as quantity of  website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. SEO targets unpaid traffic (known as “natural” or “organic” results) rather than direct traffic or paid traffic. Unpaid traffic may grow  from different kinds of searches, including image search, video search, academic search,news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines. 


Whereas, Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising. 

SEM are basically the different branches of the same tree, they both include different approaches to advertising. The typical difference would be SEM working on the basis of getting traffic via paid advertisements and SEO works with acquiring, gathering, monitoring and analyzing filtered and organic (unpaid) traffic patterns.

They both do rely on keywords to drive traffic but the methods, intentions and marketing techniques used are completely 

different from one another.


A Lot of people usually look through online before buying anything so having a string presence in search is very important. SEO tends to be a west coast term meanwhile SEM is more of an east coast term. 

SEO is a very important tactic for brands that want to drive website traffic and grow their online visibility. Debatable that SEO and SEM sound like the exact same thing, but in real life these two have very different approaches. 


Overtime we have seen the perception of many things we know have changed, the literal meaning of SEM falls under the SEO umbrella.

SEO is the art and science of persuading search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, to recommend your content to their users as the best solution to their problem.

— Jason Barnard


The four core pillars of SEO are :


Technical S.E.O – 

Technical seo mainly focuses highly on improving and renovating the technical structure of a website. It also looks at improving the site speed,structured data, crawlability, security and mobile friendliness. 


On-page S.E.O –  

Enhancing factors on the web page that help search engines understand the content in context, including things like H1,meta tag, title, optimization, image alt tags, etc is what on-page is all about. 


Content is one of Google’s main ranking factors. Your content has to precisely answer the question your audience is looking for. I.e  great content that properly matches the searcher intent, if you’re successful to do so you will never struggle to rank in top spots. Content goes way beyond just copywriting, and there needs to be a solid strategy and consistency in place. When it comes to content, always remember that it’s quality over quantity. 


Off-page S.E.O –

Off-page seo  focuses on improving the trustworthiness and authority of a website in search engines’ eyes and its users by connecting it to other high authority and relevant sites. When the search engines see that users trust a website, they will be more inclined to rank it in a higher position. So while keeping in mind about the search engines you also have to keep in mind about the people visiting your link and consistently checking if they’re happy and satisfied with the content you’re giving them. This trust will eventually come from link building, PR, and other similar methods. 

For a SEO to be successful, a combination of all 4 of these core pillars are required.

SEMs will usually start a campaign with comprehensive keyword research and competitor insights so that they can create targeted campaigns that place their products and services in front of the target audience.

These campaigns include the likes of:

Display Ads

YouTube Ads

Shopping Ads

Search Ads (text ads)

Gmail Ads


These are all different and unique formats available within Google Ads , all of which can help you to get in contact with your target audience. 

When users search for specific terms and keywords that the advertiser is running ads for, they will see a custom ad, at the top of the SERPs. Or, in some cases, shopping ads. Every time the ad is clicked, the business pays for this. For a SEM to be successful. it is very necessary for the website to be SEO -FRIENDLY. SEO is basically the base foundation for a good SEM, if your foundation won’t be strong then your whole SEM is going to fall apart.