seo vs sem


The goal of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to rank your website organically in search results.

The main difference is SEO is focused on optimizing a website in order to get traffic from organic search results whilst the goal of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is to get traffic and visibility from both organic and paid search.

Put another way:

Google’s search results are divided into two main categories: paid search results and organic search results.

The goal of SEO is to rank your website in the organic search results.

You can also get your website in the paid area of the search results via pay-per-click (PPC).

SEO is where you focus 100% on ranking in the organic results. SEM is when you tap into both SEO and PPC in order to get traffic from search engines.


SEO is the practice of continually optimising a website in order to rank in the organic, non-paid search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google uses 200+ ranking signals in their algorithm. That said, SEO can be divided into four main subcategories: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical SEO and User Interaction Signals.

On-Page SEO: This is where you optimise your website around keywords that your target customer searches for in Google, Bing and other search engines. For example, one on-page SEO best practice is to include your main keyword in your title tag, meta description and webpage URL.


SEM is a high-level term that includes SEO. So everything previosuly outlined for SEO also applies to SEM. But in addition to SEO, SEM also includes PPC, a field that has its own set of features, best practices and more.

Bidding: Whether you use Google Ads or Bing Ads, paid ads in search is all about bidding. With PPC, you bid on a specific keyword. And when someone searches for that keyword, your ad shows up.

The rankings of the ads are usually proportional to how much someone is bidding. So if you’re the highest bidder, you’ll appear above all of the other ads.

And when someone clicks on your ad, you pay whatever amount that you bid. The amount that you pay when someone clicks on your ad is known as cost per click (CPC).

Writing compelling advertisement copy is a massive part of doing well with PPC. Why? Great ad copy equals higher Click Through Rate’s (CTR) and a CTR means a good Quality Score. With all of this comming together this means that you pay less for the same click.

And in the reverse. If your copy doesn’t push people to click, your Quality Score will suffer and nd your PPCs will start to get super expensive.