What is the difference between SEO & SEM?

difference in seo and sem

Hard work is the key to success. You shall succeed in your entrepreneurial ventures if you have the perseverance and commitment towards your goals. But what does hard work mean in today’s digital times? Your blood and sweat may not be enough to keep your business running after all. In a digital world, you need to put in as many efforts in keeping your business alive in the digital world, as you put in keeping it alive in the physical world.

The internet has become extremely accessible in today’s world. People think of it as ‘The Only Market’ where they will find all the goods and services they are looking for. Just a decade ago, digital was used only as a supplementary medium together with traditional marketing channels. Today, it’s the other way round for most industries.  In fact, digital is the only medium for most businesses today.

To do that, you need to understand each of them at a fundamental level and treat both as separate entities. SEO & SEM both help you gain visibility on search engines, but they have their own set of guidelines, implementation and purposes. They both are efficient in their own ways. One can be more useful than the other depending on the time of your marketing phase or the type of your marketing campaign. An advanced SEO course or an SEM course would cover this perfectly.

advanced seo course

So let’s lay out the basic differences between SEO & SEM


What is it?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of the volume of traffic that hits your targeted website/webpage. People search in search engines using text queries or images. SEO involves optimizing a website’s content to better match the user’s keywords or queries. This means editing the existing content and adding new content that is optimized for popularly known keywords. These keywords can be very specific to an industry, market or business domain, or even generic.

SEO involves 2 main components:

1. On-page SEO:

On-page SEO involves working on the existing website and webpages to make it more search engine [crawler] friendly by doing the following things:

  • Incorporating keywords into title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, alt text, etc.
  • Editing blog posts, articles and webpage copy/content to add keywords and ensure that it is optimized with quality
  • Formatting the page URLs to make them more clean and simple
  • Improving the website and webpage load speed

2. Off-page SEO:

Off-page SEO involves increasing the number of links on the internet that can lead visitors to your website.  This happens outside the website. It consists of the following;

  • Creating high-quality content [blogs/articles] to publish them on reputed websites with high traffic. This way, readers can be linked back to your website, provided your content contains a link to your website.
  • Creating clean and polished profiles of your website on authoritative portals.
  • Promoting the website on social media
  • Promoting the website on social bookmarking sites and internet forums like Reddit or Quora


What is it?

SEM, or search engine marketing, is the process of boosting a website’s presence on search engines by the means of advertising. SEM is paid advertising done on search engines to achieve instant visibility without any website optimization efforts.


PPC, or pay-per-click, is a concept that is implemented when it comes to paid ads/sponsored in the digital world. It means that for every time a user clicks on the ad, the sponsor has to pay. This concept is applied throughout all search engines. Google Ads is the platform used to run ads for Google search results. Apart from SEM, PPC is also applicable for SMM, or social media marketing. SMM involves creating paid ads for various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Most Social Media Marketing courses would cover this topic.

In a nutshell…

SEO is the natural or organic way of getting your website ranks higher and higher in the search engine results. There is no bias, no external influence. SEM is a way to spend your marketing budget to boost your website’s or brand’s presence on search engines. As you can tell, both have their own uses. SEO is great when you want your brand to do better online. SEM is great when you want instant traffic to hit your webpage, in case you need more leads in shorter timeframes.


Learning is key:

This blog will give you a solid perspective on what it takes to achieve good results for search engine ranks. You will start seeing things more clearly and will be able to distinguish between SEO & SEM in a better way. You can take up a specific course like an SEO training course or SEM course, to truly learn everything that goes on behind the planning, creation and execution of a successful search engine strategy.

Digital Knowledge Factory (DKF), is the first full-fledged school for digital marketing studies where experts and gurus of digital marketing are at the helm of teaching our students. If you are looking digital marketing classes in Pune, then DKF is the right place for you. We have basic courses for people who are absolutely new to digital marketing. Then we have higher-level courses for people who have found their field of interest and want to explore digital marketing further.

Connect with us for a free orientation session.