The most often heard words in the internet marketing or digital marketing are SEO and SEM, they are the widely implemented, used and are sustainable digital marketing strategies for many companies, including small scale, and massive websites catering to retail and B2B, across various industries.

With the kind of business success SEO & SEM bring in most of the organizations rely on these marketing methods compulsorily.

To help you quickly understand the differences between SEO and SEM I have created a comparison table for SEO and SEM, this simple table with images/illustrations will help you understand SEO and SEM for both business owners and professionals who are in start of their digital marketing career or about to start the digital marketing,

Spelled Out VersionSearch Engine OptimizationSearch Engine Marketing
Definitionoptimization of website for search engines and implementing the supporting activities in order to make the website rank for several relevant keywords with the main goal of making then rank on first page and attract some free trafficPlacing website on the search

 engines paid slots using the marketing platform or tool participating in the

 auction is Search engine marketing.

Website OptimizationCompulsoryOnly to an minimal level
Participate In AuctionNoYes
Success RateVery HighHigh
Results Wait Time2-3 Months MinImmediate
ContentFor Users and Search EnginesOnly for Users
BacklinksFor Search EnginesNot Applicable
ReliabilityMost ReliableNot Completely Reliable
Result TypeOrganic/FreePaid (Ads)
UI/UXMatters most and Compulsory to rank on topMatters But Still website can be made available on search results Top Positions
PromotionComplete content when eligible and optimizedSelected content only based on budgets
Results continuityContinuousStop when there is no budget to run the ads
NecessityCompulsoryOptional or based on the budgets and the ROI
Skills NeededAnalytical Skills, Logical Thinking & Reasoning skills, Good written communication, Content Marketing, Up to date with the Google search engine algorithm updates, Good marketing KnowledgeGood with Numbers, Good written skills, Knowledge of Google Adwords Tools, Marketing Knowledge
Salaries3 Lac per annum to 40 Lakhs per annum3 Lakhs per annum to 25 lakhs per annum
Work DifficultyMost difficult, Time taking, and Intense workEasy to work on and results can be seen immediately
Implementation SuccessMost Fail to implement properly, but when implemented properly highest success rateCan be implemented easily, but success depends on the Bid, value, industry, Competition, effectiveness of the campaign, type of intelligence used in building the campaigns
Job OpeningsCompared to SEM too many, large number of openingsCompared to SEO a bit less, seo will have the highest number of openings as compared to SEM
Job SecurityMost secure as compared to SEMLess secure as compared to SEO


The above results are through SEM and the below one are through SEO

Here are a few more details around SEO and SEM, which you may have to know.

What are Search Engines:

Search engines are marketing platforms or a system that scrapes massive amounts of content from the internet and stores on its server in an organized structure in order to serve the user queries by creating a convenience of click and direct for the user to respective content/web pages or websites on the internet a user is looking for.

Search engines are applications or platforms which store the information on their servers and later serve the content to the user based on their queries accordingly.

Search engines as a marketing platform:

Search engines as a marketing platform allow businesses to promote them in different methods,

  • Optimizing their websites to rank organically on their platforms- Enabling Only SEO
  • Participate in an auction or pay them in order to be available on their platforms- Enabling Only SEM
  • Optimizing the websites and Participating in the auction- Enabling both SEO and SEM

How do search engines work?

You may have to go through the article , how exactly websites rank on Google search results.

The article helps you to understand the search engines functionality, the factors that make a specific website to rank on Google search results and more.

About Organic Search Marketing or SEO:

The article about SEO,

  1.  SEO or search engine optimization
  2. Demand for SEO professionals
  3. How to become an SEO professional
  4. How to do SEO for a website
  5. Best Off-page SEO activities
  6. SEO audit
  7. Search engine optimization course (SEO

Must-read articles about Paid Marketing:

  1. About Paid marketing
  2. Tips to achieve great results from paid marketing campaigns


Manjunath Chowdary

Digital Marketing Expert, consultant, Mentor and
Director of KandraDigital Marketing
Solutions Pvt Ltd.

-Kandra Digital

An agency that’s been built with the core purpose of delivering the quality digital marketing in the era where Digital marketing services are just business rather than the value for the business, business owners and their resources/time.

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