Difference Between SEO and SEM

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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 Version Search Engine Optimization Search Engine Marketing
Definition optimization 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 traffic Placing website on the search

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

 auction is Search engine marketing.

Website Optimization Compulsory Only to an minimal level
Participate In Auction No Yes
Success Rate Very High High
Results Wait Time 2-3 Months Min Immediate
Content For Users and Search Engines Only for Users
Backlinks For Search Engines Not Applicable
Reliability Most Reliable Not Completely Reliable
Result Type Organic/Free Paid (Ads)
UI/UX Matters most and Compulsory to rank on top Matters But Still website can be made available on search results Top Positions
Promotion Complete content when eligible and optimized Selected content only based on budgets
Results continuity Continuous Stop when there is no budget to run the ads
Necessity Compulsory Optional or based on the budgets and the ROI
Skills Needed Analytical Skills, Logical Thinking & Reasoning skills, Good written communication, Content Marketing, Up to date with the Google search engine algorithm updates, Good marketing Knowledge Good with Numbers, Good written skills, Knowledge of Google Adwords Tools, Marketing Knowledge
Salaries 3 Lac per annum to 40 Lakhs per annum 3 Lakhs per annum to 25 lakhs per annum
Work Difficulty Most difficult, Time taking, and Intense work Easy to work on and results can be seen immediately
Implementation Success Most Fail to implement properly, but when implemented properly highest success rate Can 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 Openings Compared to SEM too many, large number of openings Compared to SEO a bit less, seo will have the highest number of openings as compared to SEM
Job Security Most secure as compared to SEM Less 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 Kandra

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

KandraDigital is a premium Digital Marketing Agency and web solutions provider helping companies with their internet marketing portfolio. For Growth Hacks, Digital marketing Consulting services, Website Design & Development, Content Writing Services, Graphic Design/Logo Design services KandraDigital is the go to company for brilliant strategies & Quality Work.

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