The Difference Between SEM and SEO

Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization can sometimes be confusing concepts to grasp. This is because many people get confused if there is any difference between them, according to an SEO company, JSA Interactive. Both of these terms are always used interchangeably and this makes the situation even more complex. However, it is essential to understand the primary differences between these terms.

The Difference Between SEM and SEO

SEO is effectively increasing the number of visitors to websites by making it to appear quite high on the results that are returned by a search engine. On the other hand, SEM is internet marketing whose work is to enhance the visibility of a website via the advertising and results of organic search engines. This means that SEM incorporates SEO and other kinds of search marketing techniques.


Essentially, SEO is part of SEM as earlier mentioned. SEO can be described as the process of increasing the number of people that visit a certain website. This is done by ensuring that a particular website ranks highly on a results list that a search engine returns. It is true that SEO industry is very dynamic because of frequent changes that Google makes to its algorithm. However, it is important to note that SEO comprises of On-Page activities as well as Off-Page activities.

SEO components

As earlier mentioned, SEO is made up of 2 main activities as follows:

On-Page SEO – This comprises of the following:

  •  Social sharing integration within content.
  •  Google authorship incorporated.
  •  Optimized page load speed.
  •  Clean and formatting page URLS.
  •  Incorporating selective keyword into alt text, heading tags, meta descriptions, title tags etc.
  •  Page copy and blog posts written as well as optimized with high quality.

Off-Page SEO – This includes the following:

  •  Social bookmarking.
  •  Social sharing signals.
  •  Making a backlink profile that is natural and of high quality.

The list of SEO components above are not exhaustive as there are many more.


It can be described as a type of internet marketing whose main function is to promote the visibility of websites in the result pages of search engines via advertising and optimization. SEM incorporates some SEO tactics.

SEM components

In addition to SEO, SEM comprises of paid search like pay-per-click advertisements and listings. Mostly, SEM comprises of pay per click activities and campaigns.

The list of SEM components above are not exhaustive as there are many more.

Difference of SEO and SEM

The difference between SEM and SEO is that search engine optimization is just a component of the larger search engine marketing. SEM includes paid search and social media marketing. However, it is important to remember never to use the two terms interchangeably since they are different.

Most marketers heavily debate as to which one of the two is better in comparison to the other. SEO is the ideal approach but SEM needs organic SEO in order to be effective.

The above insightful information clearly shows the difference between SEM and SEO. When it comes to selecting the best, evaluation should be based upon one’s specific needs. This is why a good understanding of their differences and how to effectively maintain your efforts cannot be over-emphasized