What’s the Difference between SEO Vs SEM

What’s the Difference between SEO Vs SEM

Search optimization is an important marketing strategy for businesses and brands that try to attract attention, drive website traffic, and grow their business. But search optimization can be a difficult strategy to manage if you don’t know the difference between , SEO Vs SEM and how to use them.

The logistics may sound the same, but they are two very different approaches to search optimization. 

 Websiteroof will give you a clear understanding of the definition and use of each of the below questions. But above all, you have to know that the main difference between SEO Vs SEM is that SEM is a paid plan and SEO is an organic plan. This means SEM is based on a pay per click model of displaying text ads above the organic search results while SEO is a method of ranking a website on the organic search results.

differences between seo and sem

What is SEM?

Search engine marketing is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages primarily through paid advertising. Therefore, you should follow a sem strategy.

Other terms used to refer to SEM activities:

  • Paid ads
  • Paid search advertising
  • PPC (pay-per-click)
  • CPC (cost-per-click) 
  • CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) 

Most search ads are sold on a CPC cost per click cpc / PPC basis, but some advertising options may also be sold on a CPM basis.

What is SEO?

It stands for search engine optimization seo, and it is the process that helps increase your web page’s search ranking to be more visible online, obtain high-ranking placements in search result page (SERP), to gain more traffic and organic traffic

The most important SEO ranking factors are:

  • A Secure and Accessible Website.
  • Page Speed (Including Mobile Page Speed)
  • Mobile Friendliness.
  • Domain Age, URL, and Authority.
  • Optimized Content.
  • Technical SEO.
  • User Experience (RankBrain)
  • Links. (link building)

SEO Vs SEM: What’s the Difference?

Both SEO and SEM can increase traffic and so customers to your website.  


  • SEO and SEM both coexist on the same channel – The search channel
  • Both boost brand awareness regardless of whether you get any clicks
  • Both target specific keywords.
  • Both help a website appear in search results.
  • Both require testing and continual optimization. 
  • Both require knowing your audience.
  • Both are built to generate more traffic to a website.
  • Both use keyword research to uncover popular search terms.

The differences start to arise when we examine the process and cost of each method.


  • SEO has a higher click-through rate (CTR) than SEM. 
  • SEM search placements include an “Ad” designation while SEO does not.
  • SEM search results have ad extensions but SEO search results have featured snippets.
  • The impact of SEM is immediate, not like that SEO takes time.
  • You pay each time a user clicks on an SEM result however you pay nothing when a user clicks on an SEO result.
  • SEM results show to a select target audience compared to SEO results. 
  • SEM is better for testing than SEO.
  • SEO adds value over time yet SEM does not.

Which is better: SEO or SEM?

The main difference between these two strategies is that search engine optimization is simply a component of search engine marketing. As mentioned above, SEM includes components of paid search, such as PPC and also SMM (social media marketing).

Many marketers argue whether one is better than the other. As a website builder and hosting business, I would argue that organic SEO is the best approach, but as you can see, true SEM cannot succeed without the use of organic SEO. 

On the other hand, if you have a new website and you want immediate visibility, it is a good idea to create a PPC campaign because it takes less time than SEO. So, it all depends on the short and long term goals of your marketing plan

Finally, once you understand the Difference between SEO Vs SEM, then you will choose the best tactic, it is important to evaluate your specific needs in order to target them with the right tool and switch between them according to your short term goals.