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Search Engine Optimization Vs Search Engine Marketing (SEO vs SEM)

We have talked about Search Engine Optimization in our previous blogs, but SEO is simply a part of the bigger Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which includes direct paid methods to increase search ranking. This article goes through the various components of Search Engine Marketing and also differentiates it with Search Engine Optimization.


  1. What is Search Engine Marketing?
  2. Difference between Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO vs SEM).
  3. Tips for an optimal Search Engine Marketing plan.
  4. Conclusion
  5. Footnotes

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Important aspects of Search engine marketing

In our previous blogs we have covered the basics of Search Engine Optimization and various SEO tools to help increase your Search Engine Result Page (SERP) ranking. However, SEO stands merely as a part of the greater Search Engine Marketing.

Search Engine Marketing aims to increase your search engine ranking by organic and paid methods. This is in hopes of increasing traffic to a specific website or web page, depending on the search result and/or the parts of the website advertised on the search engine.

Pay Per Click (PPC) is the most popular method of Search Engine Marketing. Under this, search engine marketing tactics like Google Ads target specific pre-selected search queries. For example, if you search ‘ipad’ on Google, the top results often have an ‘Ad’ tag along them. Those are websites targeting the search ‘ipad’ from Google Ads(1). Now, under PPC method, a part of the advertiser’s budget will be cut every time the link advertised is clicked, corresponding to that particular search query.

Difference between Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO vs SEM).

SEO vs SEM example

While SEO aims at increasing organic traffic by unpaid or indirectly paid methods and strategies (such as SEO tools(2)), Search Engine Marketing is mainly about researching, budgeting, and managing Search Ad campaigns which aims at driving paid traffic to your website. This difference between the nature of traffic (organic vs paid) stands as the main point of differentiation between the two. Some other differences are:

  • SEM results offer certain paid extensions, such as contact number and direct links to other pages on the website, while SEO only shows a website’s homepage or a certain page as determined by the search keyword(s) and other SEO ranking Factors(3).
  • SEM results have an ‘Ad’ tag along them while SEO don’t. This is to ensure transparency and to differentiate organic SEO results from advertised ones.
  • SEM strategies ensure immediate rankings, while SEO strategies are time consuming and long-term. SEO requires checking a long list of ranking factors before a particular site’s links are shown highly on the results page. However with SEM you can directly put your web page(s) at the top of a search result.
  • SEM ensures a more specified and direct targeting. Tools such as Google Ads let you specify what kind of audience you want your SEM results to be shown to. These not only involve keywords, but also the audience’s personal data such as age bar, gender, interests, and location.

Tips for an successful Search Engine Marketing plan.

Search Engine Marketing campaigns require a comprehensive, well-researched, budgeted, and formulated plan to be successful and generate adequate traffic. Here are some of our tips for an optimal SEM campaign:

  • Invest in Keyword Research. While you can target audience based on other factors (which would mostly be the predefined target audience for your products/services), the ultimate deciding factor for landing page is keywords. Tools such as answer the public can be really helpful with those. However if you are planning for an all-in comprehensive SEM campaign, we would suggest go for one of the ‘pro’ research sites such as wordtracker.
  • Keep track. Maintaining a daily journal for traffic corresponding to each keyword campaign is a good start to know what works and what does not work for your business.
  • Maintain a landing page with adequate design and simple UI. After landing a user on your page, the next step is keeping them there. This can be achieved by maintaining a well-designed landing page without leftover code, reducing load time, and designing an simple, user-friendly interface. Make sure to run all the necessary checks on those pages before putting them up for advertisement or you may waste your time and money.
  • Implement Ad extensions for a user-friendly experience. Ad extensions show multiple clickable pages under one advertisement relating to a particular search. This is could be really convenient to the user as they could click directly on the desired page, generating traffic to that page directly. You can also list your contact info or a call out with extensions to increase conversions.
  • Use tools and strategies to help improve the campaign. Going into a SEM campaign without proper research and SEM strategies is not likely to produce high results. Therefore we would recommend going through various SEO/SEM tools to help with campaign management and research so that you could make most out of your SEM plan. You can find a full list of best free and paid SEO/SEM tools here.


Search Engine Marketing strategies are of great importance since maintaining a dynamic online presence has become a competitive necessity these days. With such high competition, it can be really challenging to work through. However with proper planning, strategies, and guidance it can surely be achieved.

We Can help!

Search Engine Optimization and Marketing can be a tricky concept to understand and even trickier to tackle. Symphysis maximizes the number of times you appear in organic search queries. Our SEO team begins by reducing loading time, improving image quality, removing leftover template code, implementing analytics, all while improving keyword ranking. For more information and a free initial consultation, call or text @ +1 (425) 390-4738.


  1. Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) is Google’s advertisement system under which one can post clickable ads corresponding to certain key words. To go to Google Ads click here.
  2. SEO tools help improve search rankings by offering various strategies and services to work on various ranking factors. To learn more about SEO click here.
  3. Ranking factors determine which webpage will be shown first based on a search, these include backlinking, Keyword stuffing, loading time, etc.
Symphysis is a business development and marketing firm dedicated to helping small businesses, startups, and enterprise companies grow. Contact us to find out more.
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