The difference between SEM and SEO

In the recent past I have run into many encounters where I will offer my SEM services and they will respond to me with questions about my “SEO” services. I personally don’t do SEO, but I do SEM and web design (You can see my site here). For all my SEO needs I go to Cyber Stampede! This lack of understanding the two terms generally causes a lot of frustration on both sides which is unnecessary; this article will hopefully clear up some of that confusion.

To most people SEO and SEM are synonymous or they feel the terms are interchangeable, this is not the case. The key to understanding the difference is knowing the difference between paid and organic listings. Paid listings are seen at the top and right hand side of the main results (3 on top, 5 on the right), the main results are everything else. SEO pertains to organic listings which are the most important because these results are based solely on relevancy as where paid listings (SEM) can shoot to the top with a fat wallet. Sometimes this is not the case, ads that are placed that have high relevancy will sometimes appear in a higher ranked spot because of their relevancy to the keywords they are targeting. If this sounds unfair to those who want to pay their way to the top; in all fairness advertisers want to show the most relevant ads to gain the highest revenue.

That being said you are probably beginning to see where SEO and SEM are similar, but not the same. SEO is actually integral to SEM, but can exist without SEM, in the long run SEM would fail without adequate SEO. Good SEO can save you money, and make you money if it is done right, and will also increase conversion rates (The ratio of customers that visit to the amount that actually make a purchase, or reach the goal point you’ve set). SEO is so important that some SEM ads will actually be rejected because of poor relevancy due to poor or lack of SEO.  As the definition below states ” Personally, I would start with SEO and then move onto SEM.”.  Here is a quick and easily understandable definition I found on another blog:

“SEO is the act of optimizing the HTML and other content of your website for relevant, targeted key phrases in order to attain higher natural listings than competing websites. SEO provides a cheaper long term solution for increased qualified traffic and generates customer inquiries that ultimately convert to sales. Now SEM is broader than SEO. It includes SEO and other areas to improve a sites visibility in search engine results pages, like paid listings and paid inclusions. You can think of SEM as more expensive and quite possibly more targeted, while SEO is free (not counting your time of course) and its purpose is to obtain better free search listings. Personally, I would start with SEO and then move onto SEM.” PageStrength.com

Be sure to come back on Monday!

Written by cs702inc. Posted in Bing, Facebook, Google, Keyword Research, Online Marketing, SEM, SEO, Social Media, Yahoo

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