The internet has become the new battleground for businesses to fight on. All market research and marketing strategies now mainly focus on the internet because that is from where most customers are coming. The business that manages to capture online users' attention and solidifies its online credibility is the winner, which gets rewarded in customer outreach and sales. The kind of importance the internet has in a modern business's success has led to strategies like SEO and SEM reaching new heights.
However, most people tend to confuse both of these for each other. Aren't they the same?
Internet marketing is a large and diverse field with many subfields based on different strategies and techniques. Some of these subfields are based on different internet platforms, while some focus on the same platform but target it in different ways. Examples of such strategies are search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). As you can tell from their full forms, both focus on different aims and employ different techniques.
SEO focuses on ensuring a better ranking of a website on the search results compiled by engines like Google and Bing. It achieves this by optimizing the website in all the ways that enhance its credibility in the search engine's eyes. The focus of SEO strategies includes load time optimization, keyword research and optimization, and mobile optimization, to name a few. Most of these techniques count as organic ways for the better ranking of a website, which contrasts to SEM.
SEM is a group of tools and tactics to use the advertising options offered by all major search engines and display the website link prominently on the search result pages. This is done through options like running a PPC (pay per click) campaign in which a website pays the search engine for every user that it brings to the website by clicking on its ad on the search result page. This is basically buying online traffic instead of attracting it organically through optimized and informative content, which is the focus of SEO.
As SEO focuses on organic reach, it can take months to solidify a website's ranking enough so that it attracts a significant amount of online traffic. However, PPC campaigns can result in SEM techniques getting you traffic quite instantly. This difference comes up because the PPC ads come above organic results and are more likely to be clicked because of this.
Before going for any internet marketing strategy, it is important to see where you currently stand and where you want to stand in the future. The second important question is how much are you willing to spend, how much patience do you have, and what kind of results you want to see.