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SEO vs SEM Comparison: It’s More than A Battle of TLAs

knight chess pieces used two illustrate seo vs sem comparisonLet’s get the acronyms straight before we begin.

SEM = Search Engine Marketing

SEO = Search Engine Optimization

TLA = Three Letter Acronymn


SEM (Search Engine Marketing) – What Most Businesses Need

Search engine marketing describes a holistic approach to online, or web marketing.  It includes the following:

  • Messaging. Getting the marketing message right
  • Target Audience. Understanding what search audience you need
  • Social Media Assessment. Determining whether Social Media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.) should play a role
  • Website Purpose. Making sure your website addresses the needs of your target audience
  • Paid Search (Google AdWords, or Pay Per Click).  Evaluating whether you should include paid search marketing in your program (some people actually apply “search engine marketing” only to paid search, which we believe is the wrong way to use the term)
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization), see below
  • And the list goes on

In other words, SEM encompasses your web marketing from top to bottom.  

This means that when you hire a typical SEO tech,  he/she will likely not be equipped to address the TOTAL marketing side of your business equation.  (Here’s an article on SEO vs. SEM that we mostly  agree with)

SEO – Something that SEM Cannot Do Without

Search engine optimization is more about the mechanics of making sure your web pages perform well in search results.  

By “perform well,” we mean that your web pages are found by the search engines, are understood by the search engines, and are given the highest possible rankings to the greatest applicable audience at the most economical cost.  

To have your questions, check out our YouTube page for free short videos, and our free recorded SEO training webinars at Horizon Academy. For help with your Search Engine Marketing or Search Engine Optimization, call us or contact us today.


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