Using various Internet marketing tactics is a wonderful way to drive targeted traffic to your website. Two of the most popular Internet marketing methods are SEM and SEO. These two methods can drive a lot of traffic to your website, allowing to you instantly increase sales and improve your business. However, because SEO and SEM are so closely related, it can be difficult to differentiate the two. Knowing exactly what SEO and SEM entail will help you decide which method is best for your website.

What is SEM?

SEM, or search engine marketing, is a combination of several Internet marketing tactics that utilize the search engines’ ability to reach specific consumers. Since so many people use search engines to access content, information and products online, it only makes sense that businesses would want to get their websites listed on these search engine pages so their products or services can be discovered by online consumers.

Pay per click marketing is one of the most common forms of search engine marketing. This type of Internet marketing allows websites to place ads on the top and side of the search results whenever someone searches for a specific keyword. When that online consumer clicks on a business’s ad, the business’s account is charged a small amount of money as the consumer is taken directly to their website.

PPC advertising is a good way to promote a website as you are able to target very specific keywords to ensure your ideal customer visits your website. A company is able to avoid spending advertising money on consumers who are very unlikely to purchase their products or services, thus resulting in much better ROI figures.

Another search engine marketing tactic that businesses can use to ensure their website is found in the search engines is paid inclusion into a business directory. If a specific directory has a first page ranking in the search engines, it would be beneficial for a business to have a listing in that directory. This way when consumers click on the directory’s website, they will see their business name and contact information listed there. However, since the search engines did not discover the business’s information on its own and rank the business’s website on the first page itself, this is a form of SEM that can be utilized to increase traffic to a website.

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is actually a type of search engine marketing but has some very different characteristics. The biggest difference between SEM and SEO is that with SEO a company will not pay the search engine or another website owner a fee to have their URL listed in the search results. While a business could pay a search engine optimization company to do their work for them, that money is not being given to the search engine itself.

Since a business will need to do its own work in order to gain a first page ranking when attempting to use SEO to promote its website, this Internet marketing method is significantly different than other SEM tactics. Some of the work required to successfully undergo an SEO campaign is link building, social media marketing and guest blogging for other websites.

Also, search engine optimization does not yield immediate results like SEM does. When a business places an advertisement within the search results, the company will start to see traffic coming to their website almost immediately. With SEO, it takes time for a website to climb up the search rankings for a specific keyword. A website will not start to see any traffic from its SEO efforts until it reaches the first page of the search results, which can take several months depending on the competition for specific keywords.

Why you Need to Know the Difference

Using a variety of Internet marketing techniques is the best approach to take when trying to advertise your website. Knowing the differences between all of the useful Internet marketing strategies will help you decide which method you should use first in order to see the best results.

Since SEM can provide instant results, many website owners will use this method first when promoting their website. Once a site starts to gain some traffic from PPC advertising or paid inclusion in a web directory, the site will start to focus its efforts on improving its organic search rankings for specific keywords using search engine optimization. Because it can take several months to see any positive results from an SEO campaign, it only makes sense for a business to use search engine marketing techniques first to start driving business through their website while they wait for the results of their SEO campaign to appear.