What Is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Ana M. May 14, 2020 0 Comments

The nuances between search engine optimization and search engine marketing can be difficult to grasp – is there really that much of a difference between the two. They’re still used fairly to describe each other, which just adds to the confusion.

Understanding the difference between the two is critical for business owners as they vet digital marketing agencies to provide these services and understanding how they are different can make or break a campaign.

guy writing on glass whiteboard about optimization, search engine marketing

Search engine marketing is one form of online marketing that strategizes around the promotion of websites by increasing visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs) through both site optimization and paid advertising.

By contrast, SEO focuses on increasing the number of website visitors by completing tasks that encourage search engines to rank the site higher in the search results. Which means that search engine optimization is part of search engine marketingSEM includes SEO as well as other search marketing strategies and tactics.

What Are The Benefits of Search Engine Marketing?

SEM allows you to combine segmentation and targeting of paid search (you may know it as PPC or pay-per-click advertising) and the improved traffic and visibility of search engine optimization. This means that your content is both optimized for higher search ranking that is placed directly in front of audiences who are most likely to convert to leads or sales for your business.

Both arms of this core strategy rely on keyword research to reach their target audiences, but the approaches and thought process behind each is slightly different. PPC marketing relies on optimization of landing pages, your ads campaigns, and your costs per click within the Google Ads ecosystem to drive valuable, targeted traffic. While search engine optimization (SEO) relies on user intent and keyword search queries to drive relevant traffic into your pipeline. 

How is PPC Different?

At Pyre Marketing, our team speaks to business owners every day that ask “If I can pay for my website to appear higher in search results, how is SEM different than paid search?”

It’s a good question- business owners should understand how these different channels have an effect on their lines of business. We’ll do our best to answer it succinctly.

Our response to this is that pay-per-click advertising is a major component of SEM, but the core strategies are different. The difference between the two is that search engine marketing employs a broader strategy that utilizes both SEO and PPC tactics for digital search visibility.

The sort of visibility that most businesses can’t do by cold calling or outbound sales alone. You can’t leave one or the other out and have an effective search engine marketing strategy.

So What Components Are Included In SEM?

SEM includes a blend of search engine optimization strategies with expertly crafted PPC campaigns to increase visibility with targeted search users. Occasionally, crafting other paid search strategies (like display retargeting) can further improve the performance of a SEM campaign.

How Does Search Engine Optimization Fit In?

SEO is the second major component of the larger, broader strategy of search engine marketing. Truly, the basic essence of any search engine optimization campaign is the process of optimizations that encourage traffic from search engine results through improved rankings in the SERPs.

SEO changes regularly due to Google algorithm updates. It can be a lot of work to stay on top of as your business grows. Despite the ever-changing landscape, one thing remains certain: SEO continues to be the most successful when you combine onpage and offpage activities.

SEO and SEM have a relationship that is symbiotic. SEM is the larger, broader core strategy while SEO comprises a large part of the fuel driving the vehicle forward.

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