Once you create your own website, SEO and SEM are marketing words which you might come across frequently. The one thing that SEO and SEM have in common is that you can use it to promote your website. These two terms may seem similar, but they are very different. You can ask a marketing professional and he may point you to the SEO techniques, while a sales professional may direct you to use SEM.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to optimising your website so that search engines take notice of it and put it in the top results. SEO refers to working your website behind the scenes to increase its relevance with the users and gain attention from search engines. SEO optimisation usually uses tags, long tail keywords, back linking and crafting good content.


–          Affordable: SEO is a technique anyone can afford because it’s free. It all depends on how much effort you put behind your website.

–          It Lasts: As long as you are constantly putting up content, once a search engine recognises your website, you’ll be in its good books.

–          User Recognition: With good SEO, more than search engines recognising your site, users will recognise and trust it.   


–          Takes Time: You’re not the only fish in the sea and it will take time to improve your website’s SEO rank.

–          Getting it Done: SEO is not as easy as it looks, no matter how many articles you write. This is why many prefer to outsource it to a professional.

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to pay-per-click, where you spend money to have your link displayed at the top of search engine results. Google AdWords is the most common form of SEM. You will be charged depending on the keywords you bid on and the number of clicks you get.


–          Immediate Result: SEM will have your link at the top of search engine results immediately.

–          More Target Audience Specific: Using keywords, selecting location, etc you can narrow down which audience you want to see the ad.


–          It’s not Free: Though SEM has a flexible budgeting system, it’s not free and depending on which keywords you select, it can be expensive.

–          Does Not Last: As soon as your SEM campaign is over, your link is removed.

What about Their ROIs?

You can track a website’s ROI or Return on Investment through website traffic, online sales, etc. Using tools such as Google Analytics, you can accurately understand how many users are coming in from the search engines. ROI is going to be higher with an SEO strategy simply because it is free to implement and lasts longer as a marketing program. On the other hand, an SEM strategy sees the website getting off the search engine once it’s done.

However, when it comes to measuring ROI results, Google Adwords will give you more accurate result than SEO.

Which One should You Use?

When you’re starting out and low on budget, SEO is what you want to use. SEM will give your results, but they will be temporary as long as your budget lasts. An SEO program will stick with your website and have it in the top results for a long time, constantly giving the site traffic and sales.