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Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Difference Between SEO and SEM for Digital Marketing Beginners

SEO and SEM are terms that are not yet common. For those of you business people in the digital field, you may have heard these terms, but don’t understand what the difference between SEO and SEM is.

Indeed, these two terms are often used interchangeably, but never used simultaneously. So, when someone uses the term SEO, usually he does not necessarily mention the term SEM. As a result, the application of digital marketing cannot be maximized.

To overcome this, you need to know the difference between the two terms. Want to apply the best marketing techniques for your website or business, right? Let’s look at the explanation of the difference between SEO and SEM!

What is SEO?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing a website and all its aspects (content, systems, etc.) so that it ranks well in search engines like Google.

For example, when a Google user searches for ‘recommended phones under 2 million’, he will type the keywords ‘phones under 2 million’ and the results that appear on the first page will be accessed/read. If you are lucky, he will read your article and intend to buy cellphone products in your store.

So, what appears on the first page of Google search results is a page of a website that has been optimized through SEO. That’s why, it’s important to use SEO, when almost all internet users depend on Google.

In order to maximize the application of SEO, here are some SEO components that you can apply.

1. On-Page SEO

  • Include target keywords naturally in blog post titles, heading tags, meta descriptions, etc.
  • Tidying up the URL format of your page.
  • Optimize the loading speed of your website pages.
  • Integrate social media sharing with your content.

2. Off-Page SEO

  • Create high-quality backlinks and place them naturally.
  • Implement Local SEO.

3. Technical SEO

  • Update the backend structure and foundation of the website.
  • Improve users and visitors who perform searches that make the website rank rise to the top rank.

Also read: 8 Benefits of SEO for Business, Are You Sure You Don’t Need It?

What is SEM?

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is a form of marketing on the internet through website promotion activities by increasing the visibility of the website itself on search engine search results pages such as Google (SERP).

In addition to optimizing search engines, SEM also includes the use of paid search as a component. For example, pay per click (PPC) and ads such as Google Ads. Well, if you do SEO, this also includes SEM efforts.

Further, SEM also includes SEO tactics and several other related marketing techniques. Although it has the same function, almost all optimization tactics carried out by SEO are paid.

So, SEM works by ‘buying’ traffic and paying it to search engines. The goal is for your website to appear on the first page of Google search

Also ReadSEM 101: The Importance of Search Engine Marketing

Difference between SEM and SEO

After knowing the meaning of SEO and SEM, let’s discuss further the differences between SEO and SEM more specifically.

1. Search results

  • SEO search results in the form of snippets or teasers of website content.
  • SEM search results will have an “Ad” label because it uses paid marketing.

2. Required fees

  • If you use SEO, you won’t be charged anything because the results displayed are organic results.
  • SEM users need to provide a large enough fee according to the user who clicks on the “Ad”.

3. Target audience

  • SEO cannot determine a specific target audience. To overcome this, you can create website content that suits the target audience that has been set.
  • SEM can determine a specific target audience for a website. This is because there is a paid marketing feature that can determine gender, age, demographics, and behavior) 

4. Generated view

  • The resulting SEO view can be seen by everyone because of the SEO search system based on keywords.
  • SEM-generated views are not visible to all users. Usually, users can see only those that match the target market (age, demographics, behavior, and browser history).

5. CTR Potential

  • The SEO techniques you use can make your website enter the top three searches in search engines.
  • But on the contrary, if your website is not in the top three searches then it could be that SEM techniques can make more CTR.

Also Read: Understanding CTR and 12 Ways to Increase Click Through Rate


That’s the difference between SEO and SEM that you can make as a benchmark in implementing better digital marketing. That way, the product is good

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