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What’s the Difference Between SEO & SEM?

What’s the Difference Between SEO & SEM?

If you are looking to increase the visibility of your website online then you will need to partake in some SEO and SEM activity. These three-lettered acronyms are often thrown around but to the uninitiated it can be difficult to understand what the difference between the two terms actually is.

This blog post aims to explain the difference and why you need to use both for a fully successful online marketing campaign.


SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation is purely focussed on the organic performance of your website on search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. Organic, or natural traffic is that which has come through to your website for free, generally because they have searched for a keyword or phrase on a service like Google and your website has appeared in the results. These are the ten non-sponsored listings that take up the majority of the page of search results.

SEO activity can be broken down into a couple of main elements – on page and off-page SEO.

On page SEO

In simple terms, this is where the website needs to be optimised to meet certain best-practice guidelines. Things like ensuring there is good quality content on each page, giving each page unique meta titles, descriptions and H1 tags, optimising images and site-speed will all help make your site work harder when it comes to appearing in the search engine results. Overall you need to try and make it the best user-experience possible to be given the trust and authority from Google that you feel it deserves..

Off-page SEO

Something that many companies that provide SEO/SEM services will look at is your off-site SEO activity. This mainly consists of seeing which websites are linking to yours as this is the strongest signal to Google that your website is trustworthy and authoritative. However, not all links are equal, and you need to ensure that you are getting links from quality, relevant resources, or doing activity to attract links naturally by creating your own high-quality content.


SEM is an abbreviation for Search Engine Marketing and this encompasses all of your online marketing activity. Of course, this includes SEO, but you also need to consider things such as any paid advertising you want to do on Google (known as PPC), any PR and promotional branded activity you want to do online, as well as the presence you are building on social media platforms such as Facebook.

There are a vast number of ways to market your business online and each company and niche should consider their approach and pick the one that is most suitable for them. For example, a small hardware shop is unlikely to be able to compete with larger companies on paid adverts on Google, though it may be able to get home bloggers to review certain products for them and link back to them to improve their SEO performance.

About the author: Beanstalk Inc can help you decide on the most suitable SEO/SEM services for your business and deliver a strategy to help you achieve your goals.

Published by Valentine Belonwu

My name is Valentine, founder of this site, an entrepreneur working as a moderator at Bizsugar a small business community news site. Connect with me on Google+ at Valetine Belonwu

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