SEO and SEM are unique elements of search marketing. But when you compare SEO vs. SEM, you’ll find that they have both similarities that overlap and differences that separate them.
The Similarities between SEO vs. SEM:
- Both help a brand appear in search results – One of the SEO and SEM basics is that they both aim to help a brand appear in prominent positions on SERPs. The goal of each tactic is to help a brand show up in search results when users search for specific terms related to the brand’s industry, business, or offerings.
- Both are designed to drive more traffic to a website – The goal of both is to gain visibility on SERPs, but more importantly, to drive traffic to a website. Each strategy employs tactics to increase click-through-rates (CTR) and get more users to click on the search results.
- Both require knowing your audience – To succeed at both strategies, you must have a good understanding of your audience and how they act. By using buyers personality and psychographic segmentation, you can get to know your audience, discover what their needs are, and what they are searching for. Then you can create valuable content that shows up when they go looking for solutions related to your brand.
- Both use keyword research to uncover popular search terms –The first step for both SEM and SEO is performing keyword research to identify the best keywords to target. The research includes looking at keyword popularity to determine the top keywords or buying keywords that your ideal audience searches for. It also includes looking at keyword competition to see what other brands are targeting the same keywords and determining what you will need to do to compete with those other companies.
- Both require testing and continual optimization – When comparing SEM vs. SEO, you should know that neither is a strategy that you can set and forget. Both require continual testing, monitoring, and optimization to increase performance.
The Differences between SEO vs. SEM:
- SEM search placements include an “Ad” designation whereas SEO does not work like this – Search results that appear as a result of SEM or SEO look different on SERPs. Paid ads that receive placement through SEM tactics are often identified as an ad, whereas the search results that appear as a result of organic SEO are not marked in such manner.
- SEM search results have ad extensions whereas SEO search results have featured snippets (a brief extract) – When comparing SEM vs. SEO, you’ll also find differences in the appearance of the search results. SEM search results may include ad extensions, which can add on additional links, phone numbers, and callouts. On the other hand, SEO results may appear with featured snippets in search.
- The impact of SEM is immediate whereas SEO takes time – Through paid SEM ads, you can start to put your results in front of audiences with just a few clicks. As soon as you launch a campaign, your ads start showing in SERPs. At any time, you can turn ads on to increase visibility or turn them off to stop showing. Conversely, SEO is something that you acquire over time and typically over a long time. It can take months of implementing an SEO strategy before a brand begins to rank on search engines.
- SEO adds value over time whereas SEM does not – SEM is only active as long as you pay for your results to show. As soon as you turn off your ads, your SEM strategy is over. SEO is the opposite. SEO strategy grows and compounds over time and leaves lasting results.
Inshort, both SEO and SEM helps you to bring more traffic on you page/website and helps you to be on top of the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).