Understanding the Difference between SEM and SEO

Kevin Dean – Tuesday, February 02, 2010

While the terms SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) are often used interchangeably, contrary to common thought, there are differences.

SEO concerns using website design and content, backlinks, and other strategies to spawn free traffic. SEM involves traffic that is bought whether through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, paid inclusion, or even purchasing contextual ads. Both have their purpose and both can be used to successfully develop a profitable online business.

SEM involves much more than forking over some cash for Google AdWords and crossing your fingers, however. It entails finding suitable and effective keywords, evaluating the return on investment (ROI), and understanding the best place to publish ads for the most lucrative return, among other things.

Learning to effectively manage SEM is a career choice in itself, but there are basics that any website designer and wannabe profitable Internet vendor can learn and practice.

Begin with research.

Learn which keywords your target audience uses to locate the products and services you sell, then use those keywords within your content, in all of your advertising, in your SEO and in your SEM. While it may take awhile, and it will take some work, doing so is truly the only way to achieve valuable, long-term results that will take you to the top in search engine rankings.

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