What Is The Difference Between SEO And SEM

The online marketplace continues to grow at lightning speed. You’ll find that nearly every industry is online, and any business that wants to thrive must make themselves easy to find in a quick Google search. This makes learning digital marketing an attractive skill set and an excellent way to gain a competitive edge in the job market.

Digital marketing encompasses a wide range of skills, which fall mainly into two categories: search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). Below are the primary differences between SEO vs SEM and why it’s recommended you learn both skills to excel in the digital industry.

SEO can be a game changer for your digital marketing programs. Enroll for the SEO Course and master the basic to advanced-level SEO skills.

What Is SEO?

SEO is a component of SEM, but SEM is not just SEO as it also encompasses paid search marketing. Think of it like this – a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not always a square.

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SEO, also a component of inbound marketing, is all about optimizing a website to improve search engine rankings and organic traffic. The goal is to ensure that when someone searches for a product or service, the business you’re marketing shows up in search results. For example, if someone searches “Italian restaurants in Chicago” into Google, they’ll see a variety of listings. Ideally, you want the Italian restaurant you’re marketing to also show up on the first page of search results. For any business to appear in search results, they must do more than just have a website built – they need a skilled digital marketer to implement SEO.

There are two primary types of SEO which you’ll learn how to complete in our Advanced SEO course. You have the option of self-paced learning with over 30 hours of in-depth instructional videos, or you can sign up for the instructor-led option. Once you’ve completed the course, you’ll be SEO certified and qualified for the 11,000+ job openings in the United States, 5,000+ in the United Kingdom, and countless jobs around the world. The two primary types of SEO are:

On-Page SEO:

  • Keyword research and placement
  • Content creation and optimization
  • Header tags, title tags, meta description tags
  • Images and ALT text
  • URL structure
  • Conversion optimization
  • User experience
  • And so much more!

Off-Page SEO:

  • Link building
  • Increasing traffic from social media to your website
  • Guest blogging
  • Asset creation (infographics, videos, etc.)
  • Press releases
  • And more!

What Is SEM?

While SEO is targeted for industry and locality, SEM (search engine marketing) empowers marketers to hyper-target their demographics with paid search engine advertising. SEM is often considered to be only paid search, but SEO is technically a component.

Chances are you’ve seen ads off to the side or at the top of search results in Google, all with minor indications they’re ads. These are examples of SEM at play. If the words people type into Google match the keywords you’re bidding on, your ad can appear in search results. Unlike SEO where the money isn’t being exchanged with search engines, with SEM you pay when someone engages with your ad, like by visiting your website or calling the listed phone number.

Digital marketers can create hyper-targeted paid ads on all social media channels, but the most popular and effective way is with Pay-Per-Click ads (PPC). The most popular and effective PPC method is Google Ads, but Bing and Yahoo also offer options. Once your ads are running, you can get reports to see how they’re performing and adjust settings on the fly.

What Is PPC Hyper-Targeting?

To truly understand how effective PPC can be, you must understand how demographic and hyper-targeting works differently in SEO and SEM. In SEO you can utilize general industry and local keywords to drive organic traffic to your website. For example, take “hair salon in Atlanta” – the industry is indicated, and Atlanta ensures that you’re attracting the right local traffic. But what if a hair salon offers many services? This is where PPC comes in.

With PPC you can hyper-target your customers by a variety of interests and needs. This includes where they live, their age range, gender, parental status, and income range. Your PPC ads will only populate for users searching for your keyword who also fit your hyper-targeted demographic. Your ads are only charged when someone clicks on them, and PPC is so effective at hyper-targeting that some digital marketers only offer this type of marketing service.

As with all Simplilearn courses, you can learn at your own pace or in an instructor-led learning environment. Once you complete your Advanced PPC Training you’ll be competent and certified in Google Ads, Bing Ads, Google Analytics, and YouTube Advertising. Practice makes perfect, which is why you’ll have five (5) industry-specific projects and 126 live demos to practice with.

Which Is Better, SEO or SEM?

While there are many differences between SEO and SEM, the most effective way to grow a company’s online presence is with a strategic approach that includes both. If a company is online-only, strategic SEO and SEM is the most effective way to grow their business.

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Can You Teach Yourself Digital Marketing?

We live in an exciting day and age where you can learn countless personal and professional skills online. So, yes, you can discover the differences between SEO and SEM and how to learn each digital marketing strategy mentioned here. However, many things online are outdated, fragmented, and are a fraction of what you need to create an effective strategy. In less time, you can learn in a structured and thorough manner with Simplilearn.

Which Course Should I Take First?

Now that you know the key differences between SEO vs. SEM, you might be wondering where to start. As far as developing your digital marketing skill set goes, we suggest beginners start with our Advanced Digital Marketing Course to learn their way around the essential tools for SEO, Social Media, Ad Platforms, and Analytics. This course has a variety of simulations to hone your skills. If you’re a self-taught marketer, this course will increase the depth of your learning.

Digital marketers can also explore our Post Graduate Digital Marketing Program in association with Purdue University.

Simplilearn is excited to help you take your career to new heights! A career in digital marketing is in-demand and therefore highly sustainable – one you can establish anywhere in the world as a freelancer or in-house expert. As you’ll soon learn, digital marketing evolves rapidly, so check back periodically for updated and ongoing digital marketing training.

About the Author

Rahul VenugopalRahul Venugopal

Rahul Venugopal is a Senior Product Manager with over six years of experience in Digital Marketing, Growth Hacking, and Mobile-App based marketing. He specializes in Online User Behaviour Analysis and Creative and Campaign Optimization.

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