The Difference between SEO and SEM - Better Mousetrap Marketing Ltd
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What is the Difference between SEO and SEM?

What is the Difference between SEO and SEM?

If you’re for ways to grow your business, then you’ve probably heard the terms SEO and SEM flying around. While SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) are both techniques used to improve a brand’s online visibility and website traffic, they are actually very different. In short, the main difference between the two is that SEO is an unpaid marketing strategy, while SEM is paid for. Confused? Here, we look at what SEO and SEO are along with their similarities and differences.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is a technique used to get your business ranked higher on search engines (mainly Google) organically (without paying to get your website seen). To do this, marketing experts like our team at Better Mousetrap can:

  • Research keywords, to discover what people are searching for
  • Create cleverly worded content across your online platforms
  • Build trust and authority from other websites using backlinks
  • Use ‘behind the scenes’ – or technical – SEO to help search engines find and crawl your online platforms 

What is SEM?

Search engine marketing, on the other hand, is when a business will use paid strategies to improve online visibility and drive traffic to its website. This includes paying for advertisements that relate to what a person has searched for – and might be known as PPC, or pay-per-click advertising.

Ultimately, SEM involves a business paying every time somebody clicks on their ad.

What are the similarities between SEO and SEM?

We’ve already established that both SEO and SEM help to grow a website and drive traffic, but what else do the two have in common?

  • As a business, you need to know who your audience is, so you can target them using both SEO and SEO
  • Both techniques require regular testing in order to work properly
  • They both target specific audiences using keywords
  • Both SEO and SEM require a marketing specialist or business to regularly research while keeping up-to-date with ongoing changes that might impact searches

What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

Other than SEO relying on organic search results and SEM involving businesses paying for their name to be seen on search engines, there are a number of other differences between SEO and SEM:

  • SEO tends to take around three to six months to work, while businesses will see the benefits of SEM immediately, as soon as the advert is clicked on
  • SEM results appear to a user as an advertisement, while SEO looks like a link
  • SEO help add long-lasting value to a website or online platform over time, while SEM efforts might be immediate they don’t necessarily add any additional long-lasting value

When should you use SEO or SEM?

Generally, SEO seems to be the more popular choice, however, there might be occasions when using SEM would suit your goals better. To determine which technique is best for your business, you should ask yourself:

  • Can you wait three to six months to start seeing traffic to your website?
  • Do you want to spend money on a long-term marketing strategy, or will your expenditure be determined by monthly ad spending?
  • What is the competition like? If search engine competition is high and you don’t want to wait to see results then try SEM.
  • Do you have the time to stay on top of researching SEO factors?
  • Do you have the time and resources to manage your SEM (online adverts) regularly?

Do you want to grow your online presence?

If you are wanting to improve your online presence then get in touch with Better Mousetrap. Specializing in SEO in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, our team of experts is here to help small businesses grow.

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