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Is SEO and SEM the same thing? In this SEO vs. SEM article we define search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). After reading you decide how SEM and SEO compare. Is SEM or SEO more important, or equal in value?

What Are SEO and SEM?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. Some people use the terms interchangeably, but other distinguish between the two terms. Even those who distinguish between them think about them differently.  Some people describe SEM as an extension of or something that builds on SEO. Others describe SEO as a subset of SEM, along with search engine advertising, paid inclusion, and other programs that go beyond the optimization of web pages and sites. 

It's not as important what you put in which category as that you do the things that will serve the needs of the website in question. With that in mind, let's look at one way to parse SEO vs SEM.

What Is Involved in SEO?

Search engine optimization means making or changing web pages and websites in order that search engine spiders can easily index them. This includes the following facets:

• The pages are well-organized and a sitemap has been created both for readers and for making it easy for pages to be indexed.

• Content on pages is focused and well-written and keywords are taken into account in terms not only of number, but also keyword density, prominence, and proximity, without keyword stuffing (obvious overuse in which the prose is clearly written to try to influence search engines rather than serve site visitors)..

• Page topics are indicated clearly in HTML meta tags. 

• Links are useful, apt, and not misused.

These SEO practices tend toward creating good page ranking, increasing the likelihood that people who search for the keywords used on the site will see the appropriate page on the first page of search results.

What Is Involved in SEM? SEM vs. SEO -

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the collection of strategies used beyond search engine optimization (SEO) in order to raise search engine ranking, increase website exposure, and increase site traffic. This includes the following facets:

• Using pay-for-placement and Pay-per-click advertising, such as Google AdWords. A lot of different skills go into this, including the choice of relevant keywords, analyzing bids, writing ad copy that works, deciding on ad placement, and determining the effectiveness of the choices and what changes to try to improve effectiveness even more.

• Submitting the site to appropriate directories and search engines

• Contextual advertising is advertising that is linked to the keywords in the page content. Google AdSense is an example. 

• Paid inclusion increases visibility on search result pages by guaranteeing a spot at or near the top of the search engine results page (SERP). It is sometimes called sponsored listings. It is important for those considering the use of paid inclusion to keep in mind that searchers know that such results were paid for, rather than earned by the quality and content of the site, and may ignore them on principle.

• Monitoring return on investment (ROI)

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