How Are SEO and SEM Different From Each Other?

As the name suggests, Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing are two different things, but since many people tend to confuse between the two, as the best website design company Delhi, it is our duty to clear this confusion.

If you want to have your successful presence on the internet today, just posting grammatically-corrected content and overwhelming graphics on your website will not be enough. Search optimization is an important marketing element for every brand that is trying to draw attention, the website traffic and increase their business.

Before one goes into actually implementing search optimization, it is crucial to know the difference between SEM and SEO. While SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. Often, people tend to confuse between the two terms and use them interchangeably.

Before we step any further, it would be better if you go through An Easy-To-Understand SEO Basics for Beginners here.

In this article, you will get a clear idea about what SEO and SEM are, how are they different from each other.


SEM or Search Engine Marketing focuses on the paid strategies for gaining visibility in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). SEM is concerned with both the activities including setting up ad campaigns and defining a budget for paying for the ads placements on the SERPs.

Following the SEM strategy, the marketer is expected to perform the following tasks –

  • Keyword research and analysis

  • Setting up of paid ad campaigns for the targeted keywords

  • Users’ search intended for the targeted keywords

  • Monitoring how the users react to your ad placements on the SERPs

  • Setting up of a definite budget for paying for every time a user clicks on the ad


SEO or Search Engine Optimization stands to refer to the marketing strategy that involves optimizing the website to garner high rankings and more search traffic organically from the SERPs. This is the organic form of search engine marketing that uses many strategies for making the website rank higher on the SERPs when a user enters their query on the search engine.

These strategies are often clubbed into three categories-

  • On-page SEO: This category focuses on optimizing every individual web page of the website by targeted certain specific keywords to appeal to the search engines. On-page SEO strategy includes:

– Keyword research

– Creating quality content

– Analyze the keyword optimization checklist

On-page SEO helps the search engines in comprehending the content of the page, and therefore, (if relevant), give it higher ranks on the SERPs.

  • Technical SEO: This category optimizes the technical elements of the website including the back-end structure. Technical SEO looks after:

– Mobile Friendliness

– Indexing

– Crawl ability

– Site architecture and site map

– Structured data

– Site security

Technical SEO optimizes both the user experience as well as the crawler experience leading to better search engine performance.

  • Off-page SEO: This SEO strategy focuses on the website’s reputation and the authority in comparison to the other websites. Off-page SEO includes:

– Link building & quality back linking strategy

– Managing local listings & directory profiles

Back links are votes that suggest the search engine that your website is relevant and authentic for a query placed, and therefore give you a higher ranking on the SERPs.

An effective SEO plan not just focuses on any one of the above-mentioned sub-categories instead and it combines all these three categories to ensure that the website is optimized in every way for garnering the best results.

What Are The Other Differences Between SEM And SEO

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, SEO is the organic form of search engine marketing and SEM is the paid form of search engine marketing. Apart from this difference, both these sub-categories share other differences as well-

  • SEM search placements have “Ad” designation, while SEO doesn’t. SEM’s paid ads are identified by an icon of “ad” appearing near the placement.

  • SEO search results have featured snippets, and SEM search results have ad extensions such as ad extensions, additional links, phone numbers, and call outs.

  • You don’t have to pay anything when the user clicks on your SEO results whereas and you pay every time a user clicks on the SEM results.

  • The impact taken by SEM is quick as compared to SEO which takes time. With SEM, as soon as you start an ad campaign, your ads start to appear in SERPs. Whereas, SEO strategies take time before the impact is visible.

  • SEM is more flexible than SEO as the marketer can quickly make changes to the ad copy and the results will be visible immediately. Whereas, SEO takes much time to make changes and analyze differences in results.

One main thing that both SEO and SEM have in common is you need to be careful and have immense patience. Search engine algorithms keep on changing and therefore, you will need to work on your SEO and/or SEM strategies regularly. Considering that as a business owner, many business areas need to be taken care of, it is recommended to hire the best SEO agency in Delhi that has a proven track record of providing the most efficient SEO services.