If you’ve been researching marketing and how to get your website to pop up to more customers faster and easier, you’ve likely read about search engine optimization (SEO), and possibly search engine marketing (SEM). We’ve written before about the importance of SEO and why it’s an integral part of any marketing strategy/campaign, but we haven’t talked too much about SEM yet.

To that point, many people confuse, conflate, and mistake SEO for SEM, botching their marketing strategies and not getting the desired results. Is one better than the other? Should you focus on one more than the other? What exactly is the difference between the two?

If you’re considering hiring a marketing company in Los Angeles to handle you SEO and SEM, you need to make sure that they’re aware of the difference and how to execute each effectively so that you aren’t throwing money out the window and hindering your business development and growth.

To break it down as simply as possible before getting into the nitty gritty, SEM is paid marketing, while SEO is organic marketing; both aim to increase your visibility on the web, but clearly take two very different approaches. You may be thinking that you’ll already need to pay for SEO, so why should you pay for paid marketing? Well, to put it plainly, you need to in order to survive in today’s saturated search markets.

SEO focuses on your website’s content and how guests navigate it quickly, easily, and effectively. The basics of SEO tactics are keyword research, content writing (such as new webpages, blogs, articles, etc.), and keyword optimization. The last of the three is where a writer reworks the copy on your website to insert the keywords from research to help guests find your page when they type in said keywords and phrases. SEO also includes updating images and pages with meta data, link building, removing outdated pages and using redirects, mobile design, and overall architecture.

SEM also uses keyword research, but the difference in strategy isn’t to write or edit content on your website, but rather to create engaging ads and to pay for their placement. When you go on Google to search for something, on the sidebar you’ll often see a number of boxes from different websites with little blurbs; these are SEM ads targeted to address the keywords and phrases you just searched. Additionally, Google My Business ads fall under SEM and give the reader a deeper insight into the products and services you offer. This paid strategy, oftentimes called pay-per-click advertising, gets your content in front of readers in a bit more aggressive style, rather than letting them find it naturally through blogs and pages à la SEO.

No one person knows everything about SEO, SEM, and marketing overall. That’s why we have a team of experts who specialize in all of these fields to make sure our clients are taken care of and reach their goals. If you’re curious about how we can boost your engagement and traffic through SEO and SEM, give us a call, or contact us via email. We’ll be happy to chat, answer any questions, and prove to you why we’re the top marketing agency for your business.