Eric Elliott

The difference between SEO and SEM

Sep 21,2016 / Marketing Strategy

Did you know that SEO and SEM are in fact separate? While often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between SEO and SEM. We will detail the difference below along with a little trick to remember the difference between the two.

What Is SEO?

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. This form of marketing is unpaid and depends on optimizing  your website and other platforms with keywords so your webpage ranks higher on the SERP, also known as Search Engine Results Page.

What is SEM?

SEM is an acronym for Search Engine Marketing. This form of online marketing is paid. SEM is PPC, Search, etc. In one form SEM could mean purchasing a text search ad as shown below:

SEM Example VIP.png

So, what’s the trick?

I’m glad you asked! In order to remember the difference, I’ve used the following “trick”:

SEO has an “O” at the end that I pretend is a zero to signify that it costs nothing to advertise. I’ve also used the “O” to signify organic.

SEM has an “M” at the end that I use to signify money, meaning it costs money to advertise.


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