The Difference Between SEO and SEM and How to Use Them

For the past 10 years or so, marketers have been using SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) as an either/or choice.

  • SEO is accomplished via internal and external linking and optimizing web pages to maximize the reach and relevance of a particular website’s organic search engine page ranking.
  • SEM refers to focused bidding on online markets using campaign analytics and, sometimes, a complex science of managing millions of keyword buys that are capable of driving high-percentage conversions.

After much data gathering, it is becoming clear that most organizations should, at a minimum, consider both SEO and SEM in their overall marketing and branding efforts. Here are some practical ways for you to implement this integrated strategy.

1. Identify what works for both SEO and SEM. Look for keywords that will drive high organic traffic as well as paid search views and market them in both media types.

2. Review the results of both efforts to see what paid the biggest dividends and select the choice keywords that were the most effective in both media types. Since organic search efforts can take several months to prove out, you will need to stay with a steady SEM buy to compare results.

3. After you have refined your keywords, consider adding external marketing such as direct e-marketing campaigns to drive additional traffic based on the newly acquired search results.

Since websites and campaigns constantly change, you should continuously study what works best and refine, refine, refine. The more you measure, the more you will be able to improve your results.

Tom Wants to Hear Your Branding Issues:
If you are a printing company or product/services company serving the print-media market and would like to be considered for a feature in this blog, please contact Tom Marin for an interview.

Follow MarketCues on Twitter for branding and social media tips, as well as the latest trends. Tom also welcomes emails, new LinkedIn connections, calls to 407.330.7708 or visit How can he help solve your branding issues?

Tom Marin is the managing partner of and provides corporate and brand strategy to organizations of all sizes. He has an extensive background in the graphic arts, printing, publishing and media industries. Marin is an accredited member of the national and international chapters of the Business Marketing Assn., is a (CBC) certified business communicator and a past marketing chair of the Chicago chapter.

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