SEM encompasses anything that improves a website’s visibility on search engines, which would include SEO, link building, and more. Publications like Search Engine Land refer to the combination of paid search and SEO as just Search Marketing nowadays. Confusing, we know.
SEM refers to paid search marketing, while SEO is unpaid traffic (businesses earn their ranking in search results based on having the most relevant content for a given keyword).
While SEO is a powerful way to drive top-of-funnel traffic, the rules and algorithms are constantly shifting and there are no set guidelines for marketers to follow. SEO takes a lot of time and effort to earn a ranking on page one of the search term you’re working towards. It takes creating a large volume of relevant content frequently, generating backlinks to those pages, and more. Though it takes hard work, it pays off in the long run to have a solid SEO and SEM strategy.
SEM, on the other hand, is paid placements. It’s a straightforward way to get in front of potential customers in a cost-effective way. If you bid on the right keywords, have an enticing ad, and a personalized post-click landing page that corresponds to your ad, you’ll be able to generate business almost immediately. That’s not to say, it’s easy. You need to know the ins and outs of the advertising platform you’re using and have patience. It takes time to optimize your ads and post-click landing pages and start seeing the kind of results that impact your business’s bottom line.
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