As a business owner, you want to implement the best online marketing solutions to raise brand awareness. If you've had your ear to the ground in the past five years, you've likely heard of search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO). While at first glance these practices may seem interchangeable, they're entirely different, and it's important to know when to use one versus the other.
SEM refers to the text advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (SERPs). These promotional pieces are often links you can purchase from services like Google AdWords or Bing Adcenter. SEM heavily relies on pay per click (PPC), meaning each time a prospect clicks an ad, the company pays for the impression. Additionally, this marketing strategy includes any banner advertising or ad placement that occurs on related sites.
SEO, on the other hand, refers to improving organic traffic through unique practices likes content marketing and link building. This effort is the more affordable option, as most of what SEO requires can be done for free by the company itself. With recent updates changing how SEO is conducted, many professionals have come to realize organic search rankings are influenced by the quality of the content published on their websites.