What’s the Difference between SEO and SEM?

Both SEO and SEM are types of marketing centered around Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, refers to the practice of improving a website’s organic search engine rankings, while SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, refers to paid advertising on SERPs (often referred to as PPC).

SEO is typically done by optimizing the content of the website and its underlying code, as well as by building high-quality links from other websites. On the other hand, SEM uses paid advertising to improve a website’s visibility on search engine results pages by “bidding” on keywords. SEM ads can appear at the top or bottom of search engine results pages, marked with a “sponsored” tag.

SEM can achieve results faster than SEO, as SEO takes weeks or months to take effect. SEM is therefore usually a “quick fix” to get fast results, which is helpful when it comes to quick turnarounds – like quick sales & holiday campaigns. However, SEM results are limited to the duration of the paid campaign, while SEO rankings can continue to improve even long after an active SEO optimization campaign is pursued. SEO is therefore more sustainable for evergreen content and business offerings.

If you’re interested in learning more about marketing & SEO, reach out to Fire&Spark for a free strategy discovery session.

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