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Difference between SEO and SEM: when to use each strategy

The difference between SEO and SEM when to use each strategy

In the digital world, SEO and SEM are two key strategies to increase online visibility. Although both aim to improve search engine presence, they differ in approach, techniques, and results. However, there are still many people who wonder what the difference between SEO and SEM and which is the most suitable to strengthen a brand.

What is SEM marketing?

He Search Engine Marketing (SEM) enhance the presence of a website on the results pages of the main search engines (SERP). This is achieved through promotion and optimization strategies. SEO is included within SEM (Search Engine Optimization), along with other marketing techniques such as advertising and pay per click ads (PPC). However, there are conflicting opinions in this regard, as many digital marketing experts consider that SEM and SEO are two different strategies.

To fully understand What does SEM entail?, it is essential to contextualize it within the global panorama of the internet marketing. One of the objectives of many sellers is to increase the number of visitors to their website, that is, traffic and permanence on the site. To achieve this, different strategies can be followed, such as enhancing the presence on social networks and do the web adaptation for mobile devices.

One of the most effective strategies to increase website traffic is to ensure that it obtains a high ranking in search results when people enter relevant keywords. There are numerous methods to get a website positioned in the SERPs, and they are all part of SEM.

The difference between SEO and SEM when to use each strategy

SEM advertising models

He SEM covers both SEO and advertising. The latter occurs when a website pays to secure the top spot in search engine results. In this sense, Google Ads represents the most prominent platform for a website to promote its presence and achieve high positioning. Advertising models vary depending on the moment in which the customer is charged and are classified as follows:

  • PPC (Pay Per Click). It happens when the customer clicks on the ad.
  • PPI (Pay Per Print). Payment is made when the customer views the ad.
  • PPA (Payment Per Share). It applies to the moment the customer performs a specific action, such as signing up.

However, paid advertising is not the only SEM component. The other aspect is obtaining organic traffic for the website using specific SEO strategies.

What is SEO marketing?

He SEO refers to the tactics used to improve website position in search results. This strategy often involves a long-term approach. Despite its gradual nature, investing in SEO is valuable as it no individual click charges.

Although the paid advertising can take a website to the top almost immediately, it is not sustainable in the long term. This is because each click on the page brings a associated cost. Over time, this expense can exceed the budgets allocated for the digital marketing and deplete a company's resources. This factor makes depending exclusively on advertising unviable.

For this reason, your website should appear on search engine results pages without shelling out any funds. You can ensure that it reaches a prominent position and attracts organic traffic through SEO. This strategy is based on optimizing the website following the guidelines of the Google search algorithm. Since this algorithm is constantly evolving, SEO strategies they must also constantly adapt. In this regard, there are two types of activities that can be done inside or outside a website and that are part of the elements of SEO.

On-Page SEO Tactics

Within the on-page SEO strategies, there are the following techniques:

  • Include relevant keywords in elements like the title, tags, meta description, headings, alt text, and of course throughout the content.
  • Integrate options for share content on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Optimize performance of the website to ensure fast loading.
  • Create blog posts and content on the website that are valuable and relevant to the target audience. To create this content, certain parameters must also be followed, such as searching for keywords or relevant keywords.

Off-Page SEO Tactics

Among the SEO strategies that are applied outside the website are:

  • Acquire high-quality inbound links. This means that websites with a solid reputation and quality content link to your page.
  • Achieve mentions on various social media channels and other websites, where quality and credibility are key factors.
  • Generate participation signals on social networks, such as sharing and following actions on different social media platforms.

What is the difference between SEM and SEO?

Both share the goal of improving visibility in search engines like Google. However, there are notable differences such as:

  • Economic inversion. Despite the idea that SEO is free, getting a website to the top requires time, dedication, and an initial budget. Although it involves some maintenance costs, this mainly translates into a long-term investment. On the contrary, SEM involves a constant expense for each click on the ads.
  • The position on results pages is different. Google Ads ads occupy a strip at the top and a column to the right of the page. While organic results dominate the central space.
  • He content varies between both strategies. SEO is based on the generation of excellent content, typically in long formats. While SEM relies on ads with a character restriction and landing pages designed to achieve maximum impact with a minimum of elements.
  • Finally, the time factor makes an important difference. The SEM aims to obtain results in the short and medium term. While SEO is conceived as a medium and long-term investment.

Benefits of using SEM in marketing

  • Whether through SEO or paid advertising, the SEM contributes to creating awareness around the brand. People find your website in search results by entering different keywords. If they don't click, they recognize your presence as an authority on certain topics.
  • Search engines represent intent-driven marketing channels. For this reason, traffic obtained through SEM is more likely to achieve successful conversion rates.

Benefits ofl SEO for your business

  • It is considerably more profitable compared to advertising. That is, it is not necessary to pay for each visit to the website. After investing and achieving a prominent position, you are left to enjoy the benefits of organic traffic continuously.
  • Furthermore, it proves to be a long-term sustainable strategy, unlike advertising, which is conditioned by a budget. Once you achieve high rankings through SEO, you are likely to maintain a prominent presence in search results for a considerable period.
  • It is important to note that, in general, organic search results tend to generate more clicks than sponsored results, although this may vary depending on the nature of the search.

In general terms, the SEM is an element of vital importance in marketing. Search engine advertising offers notable advantages in certain scenarios. For example, when you are looking for instant visibility or you want to create an immediate impact. However, it is necessary to recognize that advertising has its limitations. The main ones are related to the budget, which could hinder its long-term sustainability.

For this reason, it is advisable to allocate resources to SEO from the beginning. Although it may require weeks and even months to show tangible results, your investment translates into long-term lasting benefits.



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