SEO vs SEM – What’s the difference?


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are two terms that are often confused for one another. They both help businesses reach their target audiences on search engines however, they both work differently. Our Liverpool SEO experts are no strangers to SEO and SEM so, here is a breakdown of how they differ.


What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) heightens your website’s relevance and drives traffic via organic search outcomes. Google employs crawlers to analyze website content, which is then processed through an algorithm to align the most fitting results with user search queries. Thus, content’s relevance, trustworthiness, and authority dictate search rankings. This translates to heightened search result positioning and subsequently more substantial web traffic—a pivotal objective achieved through SEO strategies and techniques.

Optimisation is carried out in various ways to improve your chances of being seen. Check out our blog to discover 6 ways to improve your SEO Strategy.

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing is also known as PPC (pay-per-click) and involves using paid tactics to gain a priority position within search engine results. Unlike SEO, SEM uses paid platforms such as Google Ads to reach your target audience.

Our Liverpool team of PPC experts start the process off by carrying out keyword research to see what our clients audience is searching for. These keywords will be used to run ads against, which means that their ad will be displayed above organic results if it matches a user’s search query.

The main benefit of SEM is that you’re completely in control. You only pay for the ad when a user clicks on it therefore, it’s a clear return on investment. There is also the option to amend ads at any time whether it’s changing keywords or your audience, if you feel they aren’t performing well. Our experts have collated a number of ways your business can benefit from PPC.

Which should I use?

There is no right or wrong answer here, other than it completely depends on a number of factors:

  • Your goals – if you want a quick win for a new product launch, SEM is your best bet to drive traffic in a short space of time.
  • How you’re already performing – Perhaps you’re already ranking quite high on Google’s organic search results. SEM is a great supplement to maximise this.
  • SEO has long term benefits – If you have never implemented SEO or SEM, SEO is always the best starting point. By implementing on page and technical SEO, you will reap the long-term benefits and stand a better chance at being noticed over a long period of time.
  • Your budget – In some cases, you might not want to put any money into SEM which is totally fine. SEO enables you to benefit organically and you can always improve it without any costs.

Our Liverpool digital marketing team always recommend integrating both for a successful strategy. The two approaches are even more powerful together and therefore will increase the chances of growing your customer base and revenue.

Still not sure?

Our Liverpool SEO team have extensive knowledge and experience in SEO and SEM when it comes to planning campaigns. We are at hand to help you choose the best strategy that will grow your business and produce results. Give us a call!

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