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Defining Search Engine Marketing vs Search Engine Optimisation

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The difference between Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) needs defining. The two terms are often confused for each other, despite meaning different things. In fact, Search Engine Optimisation is one discipline included in Search Engine Marketing.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Definition:

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) focuses on improving the ranking of a website within search engine results.

This can be applied to specific types of searches, including local, image and video search, but concentrates purely on the organic (or natural) results. These are the positions a website can earn by gaining reputation and authority, rather than purely paying for advertising.

Within SEO, there can be further splits between Technical SEO (Improving the coding and building blocks of your website), and work that improves the visible elements of your website content. All of this can be bundled together as 'On-Page SEO'.

SEO involving external sites, such as referral links, can be referred to as 'Off-Page SEO'. This doesn't just refer to obtaining links from other websites - in fact in increasingly requires removing undesirable links to avoid search engine penalties.

Although Social Media has risen as an alternative way to find information and advice, search traffic attracts both new users to your website, and people who are actively searching for products or services like yours.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Definition:

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) includes the practice of SEO. But the term is much broader, as it also includes Paid Search Advertising (Pay Per Click), using services such as Google Adwords and Bing Ads.

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising appears alongside the natural search results, and sometimes can be confusingly similar. Some companies can afford to lower their PPC spend as their natural rankings improve - others have found that running PPC alongside high organic search results can actually increase the people clicking through both options.

Search Engine Marketing can include the use of Adwords and similar services to place adverts on external websites, and relevant paid listings on legitimate business listings and directories.