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SEO vs. SEM

David Bosley

SEO vs SEM ImageSEO vs. SEM

Many business owners or newbies mistakenly believe that SEO and SEM are one in the same, but they’re not! Both search engine optimization and search engine marketing work to increase brand awareness and generate traffic online but the manner in which they work is quite different. As a business owner, determining where to put your marketing spend requires a firm understanding of these two core fields of internet marketing.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization, SEO, is unique method of tailoring content through the use of keywords, research and website development to boost natural search engine rankings. SEO is actually part of SEM to some extent as search engine marketing is made up of a combination of organic and paid search processes.

SEO increases the rankings that a website or webpage will have based on the popularity and brand awareness that is developed through various methods of marketing. The search engine spiders that sort through and categorize the content found online do their best to rank sites that include the most relevant information for the searcher so through SEO, steps are taken to increase brand awareness and traffic.

What is SEM?

Slightly different, but still very much alike, search engine marketing or SEM works to generate search engine traffic through paid or sponsored links. This method of internet marketing includes:

PPC (pay-per-click marketing)
Adwords campaigns
Paid inclusion

Generally speaking, SEM features a number of paid tools that help to generate online traffic. These programs generally increase traffic rather quickly but they do not provide long-term gains as the only way to keep the traffic generation going with SEM is to continue pumping money into the marketing spend.

SEO or SEM: What to Choose?

So what internet marketing method should you choose for your business? Ideally, a combination of both SEO and SEM will help to generate the most beneficial ROI. Adwords and other paid search marketing efforts can generate great volumes of targeted leads while SEO can help to increase organic traffic over time. The best way to increase online presence and boost traffic is to use combined efforts to maximize the return.

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