Growing your business through the digital environment requires a certain level of understanding of how internet traffic works. In digital marketing, it is important to be familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). These acronyms may sound new to you, or perhaps you’ve heard them somewhere, but know that these two acronyms are the key to your business’s online success.

Both SEO and SEM are marketing techniques that boost traffic, visibility, and ranking in search results for your business website. Moreover, the two utilize specific keywords to target a particular audience. While they share similarities in traffic redirecting and search visibility, the two are very different marketing methods.

Read on to find out what SEO and SEM mean and the significant role they play in digital marketing.

What Is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a strategy that optimizes a website’s visibility and increases organic traffic. This makes a website more recognizable by Search Engine Crawlers, raising its ranking on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and making it easier to find on the internet. In short, SEO optimizes websites to attract more customers when making searches on the internet. Organic means free service, so SEO does not use paid ads to generate traffic.

It takes some time for an SEO-optimized website to be noticed by Google, but you will be rewarded with long-term increased traffic once it does.

What Is SEM?

SEM or Search Engine Marketing uses various organic (SEO) and paid (PPC) techniques to generate traffic, usually in the form of advertisements on Google. SEM targets particular keywords that, when searched on the search bar, push the website to the top of the list by placing an ad.

SEO is a slower process, while Pay Per Click (PPC) is instant. However, understanding SEM is tricky, and when the ads stop, your visibility fades. Hiring an SEM expert or using search engine promotion software can help you promote your business faster.


SEO and SEM are beneficial to any establishments out there aiming to get ahead of their competitors in digital marketing. SEO focuses on organic traffic, while SEM utilizes paid ads for visibility. Regardless, both are effective techniques that every digital marketer should know.

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