Marketing Blog | Addison Clark | Richmond, VA

seo vs sem

In the marketing world, the terms SEO and SEM are thrown around a lot. And sometimes, they are used interchangeably. But the truth is they are different. SEO stands for search engine optimization and SEM stands for search engine marketing.

SEO is all about driving visitors to your website organically through a search engine (Google, Bing, etc.). The goal is to get your website to appear higher in search results. In this case, higher actually means a smaller number. If you rank the highest on Google your rank is 1. Generally, there are 10 results per page of Google, so showing up 11 would put your website on the second page and therefore greatly reducing visibility.

According to HubSpot, “SEM is considered internet marketing that increases a site's visibility through organic search engine results and advertising. SEM includes SEO as well as other search marketing tactics.” Forms of advertising that fall under SEM can include pay per click and social media advertising. If your SEO rankings are lower, SEM is important for your website to appear in the paid section of search engines which are above the organic results.

SEM is more of a marketing strategy, whereas SEO is a marketing service and tactic. SEO is “free” and organic. SEM includes a paid component. But both have the same goal – to drive traffic to your website and increase leads/sales. They both involve keyword research and optimization. Continuing to research and define your audience is key to both as well.

SEO tends to take longer to show results, but the results you do get are sustainable. SEM can have immediate results through paid resources. However, if you stop paying, your results immediately stop.

At Addison Clark, we believe any marketing strategy should include SEO. It may take longer to ramp up, but the long-term benefits to your website are extremely valuable.

If you have questions about SEO or SEM, give us a call!

Like what you read? Want to see more blog posts?

Return to Blog


Have a marketing question? Want to talk?

Contact Us