By: Jay Rebaldo

There’s some  confusion in the digital world today between SEO (Search Engine
Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and whether they work together or against
one another in driving traffic to your website. Just to be clear, before we begin to explore how
SEO impacts SEM, let’s get everyone on the same page, so to speak. Though the two are quite
different, they work toward the same goal – getting new users to your website. So, what’s the
difference then?

SEO Defined

SEO, well-known for its hard work and positive effects in the marketplace for years, is search
engine optimization which has its focus on drawing users to your sight in a free and organic way.
As search engines crawl and index websites, they formulate ‘opinions’ based on the quality of
sites – code, content, usability – and then display relevant results based on a user’s search. All
this, of course, means your site must have the content your target audience is seeking, or you will
be ‘invisible’, not returning in their search results. Improving your landing pages, starting with a
technical audit, will allow you to address problems like poor quality links, enhance performance
and speed, and gain the desired traffic. Then, develop your SEO to utilize social media outreach,
and natural links designed to get you noticed and guide users to your website.

SEM Explained

SEM, aka Search Engine Marketing, utilizes professional online marketers who use content
writers to create marketable content, often through paid advertising efforts like Google Ads, as
well as social media and traditional digital channels. SEO and SEM are similar in the fact that
when successfully done, both will bring your websites results to the top. The difference is, while
SEO gains organically, SEM is targeted advertising. SEM performs in ways SEO cannot simply
because some keywords and categories are too competitive even when sites have been optimized.
SEM focuses on paid-advertising, which means it is “pay to play” and each dollar spent should
and will hit the targeted audience.

SEO Impacts SEM – The Complements

Now that you know the similarities and differences, it is easy to see how SEO impacts SEM, as
well as how the two work together to promote your website successfully. While different, SEO
and SEM are quite complementary. SEO works to gain organic listings, in other words, traffic
through free listings. SEM strives to develop targeted advertising, traffic through paid listings.
SEM fills the void left by SEO, helping your website rankings via the words for which your site
doesn’t rank organically. Together, when they are filled with high quality content users are
searching for, attract multitudes of users to your site by sending your site soaring to the top of the

SEO and SEM work best when a solid SEO campaign improves paid advertising’s performance,
generating clicks and conversions for your site. For the best SEO/SEM results, focus your
attention on areas which need improvement, seeking the assistance of the professionals such as a
PPC (pay per click) advisor for ad development and ad management or a seasoned content writer
for SEO driven copy. Doing so can make all the difference in driving clicks, conversions, leads,
and a good ROI (return on investment) within your digital marketing campaigns.

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