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SEO Versus SEM

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has to do with upgrading contents so that they can be found in search engine results. Search engines consider quite a number of factors before they rank sites for search results. Some of these factors include content, keywords, backlinks, reviews and others. Search engine optimization can either be onsite or off-site. The essence of SEO for web pages is to enhance the traffic from search engines. 

While Search Engine Optimization helps a web page get visibility, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) does the same but takes it further. SEM involves SEO strategies and more. They are both digital marketing strategies but SEO is a subset of SEM”  according to San Francisco businessman Alan Safahi, a digital marketing and SEO expert. 

SEM as a digital marketing strategy serves the purpose of helping websites gain visibility in search engines. In SEM, this can be achieved in two ways: SEO and paid advertising

SEO generates organic traffic. SEO strategies do not require any form of payment. Whether you choose to improve onsite SEO strategies such as the contents, appropriate use of keywords, captivating titles, the appropriate use of diagrams and images, or you choose off-site optimization strategies like inbound links, featured snippets, etc, you won’t incur much cost. Here, no statutory financial commitments are made. 

SEM has a broader scope. It envelopes Search engine optimization strategies PLUS another aspect of digital marketing which is PPC (Pay-per-click) advertising. Here, statutory financial commitments are made as it goes beyond organic search results to include paid search results. In short, paid advertising involves purchasing the space you need in search engine results when queries are made. It removes your page from the queue created by other web pages competing for organic search results.

 This is apparently an advantageous point for any website but it is only so for as long as the payment continues. “In the long run, paid advertising may turn out to be a disadvantage because the ranking only runs on a contract basis. While organic results earned through SEO strategies last for a longer period of time” according to Alan Safahi.

Another important difference to note is the speed and effectiveness that each method provides. SEM produces speedy results. This is basically because of the Pay-per-click advertising. “Once payments are made, you can expect to have your rankings as soon as possible while SEO will take a longer period and of course, more hard work and consistency before you can have your desired rankings” adds Alan Safahi

In the long run, however, SEO could turn out to be more effective and sustainable. Starting and continuing the strategies that enhance SEO has the potential of improving your site’s search engine results and keeping it that way for a long time, without payments. 

It is good to note that both Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing are effective ways of improving search results. What web page owners should do while deciding which is better for their webpages is to consider their own marketing goals. Do they need traffic on the website fast and for a period of time or would they rather have constant traffic? This would go a long way in helping them decide which strategy is better for their webpage.

Alan Safahi Orinda CA

Alan Safahi is an Iranian-American entrepreneur and six-time startup founder with over 30 years’ experience in the information technology, telecommunications and financial services industries.