The digital marketing world can be so confusing sometimes. We get it, the team at our SEO agency Market Harborough also get confused from time to time. There are so many acronyms: SEO, SEM, CRO, PPC, CPC, CTR, SERPS, DA, PA, DR, UR to name a few. Two of these acronyms get branded together as if they were the same. But, that’s untrue. SEO and SEM are not the same.

So what is the big diff between SEO and SEM?

SEO is basically part of SEM. SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. When we are talking about search engine marketing, we are referring to SEO and Paid advertising, typically Google’s paid Ads platform (formally Adwords).

We discussed the differences between SEO and paid advertising in our post regarding the search engine results page (SERPS). Just to recap, a specific page in the serps, especially page one, consists of paid Ads and organic search results. Different search queries can also trigger other elements to show which are related to the query. For example, a search that includes a location reference will in most cases bring up the local maps listings. For a company to feature in the maps section, they need to have created, claimed and set up a Google My Business page profile and fleshed out as much of the information that Google asks for.

The majority of searches understand that the listing right at the top is generally paid Ads. Therefore around 5 to 10% of clicks will got on paid Ads.

In comparison, a website that appears in the No1 spot in the organic listings will receive 35-40 % of the search queries. To get into the organic listings is where the process of search engine optimisation comes in.

SEO is the process that consists of specific elements and activities that are performed on a website and off of the website but relating to that website. This process has one goal. Get a specific page listed high in the search engines for a search query you want your page to be found for.

Paid advertising is similar in some ways. It’s the process of showing up for a specific search query but through a complex process of auctions and bids.

SEO can take time to reach your goal. The time it takes is determined by many different factors. It can take 3 to 18 months so it can be quite a lengthy process. The benefits are that organically listed webpages that have been SEO’d typically are more trusted and this receives more clicks.

Compare that to paid advertising. With paid advertising, you can be in front of people searching for what you have to have within one hour. The downside of this is that you have to pay for every website visitor and you don’t receive as many visitors to your website as you would do with SEO.

Ideally, if you have the skills you want to be doing both. Doing both will increase the number of visitors to your website and if your CTR and your CPA are good, you’ll also enjoy the benefit of increase enquiries, sales and revenue!