Archive for the ‘SEM’ Category

SEO and SEM – What Are The Differences

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

This post is follow up to some discussion on and relates to whether SEO/SEM is useful for small business. I have edited it a bit to make it suitable as a standalone post, but essentially this is just a long winded comment I wrote!

Firstly I should mention the definitions that are being used. The industry seems to be using the following (which I actually don’t agree with but hey that’s what they are using): –

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – Optimisation of a website for organic search results. This could involve changing code, rewriting content, inbound links, article writing etc etc.

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) – This is pretty much defined as Adwords or similar paid advertising, and to be honest is why I said I actually don’t agree with these definitions as marketing isn’t just advertising). If you look at wikipedia for example they define it quite tightly as ad related  (

These can essentially be used differently. Personally I believe that every commercial site should have SEO and usability work done on them. This can be done by the site creator or an external company. The reason I say this is that it will help you be found over time, but importantly it will help users find what they are looking for. As an example You may have a page about orange widgets. If you were to optimise this page for Google you would make sure that the title h1 tags included ‘orange widgets’ preferably at the front of the title.

The reason that Google likes this is that it is how readers read too. The title of the page should be what the page is about and by front loading the keywords the title becomes easier to scan and see what it is about. Therefore what is good for Google is good for site visitors too (after all that is what Google is about), and what is good for your users is also good for your business bottom line.

SEM on the other hand will depend on the business. If you need to drive new customers and are not high up in Googles natural (organic) listings. SEM is a good way to get a presence. This may be the case particularly when you are starting up a business. There is also an argument that even if you are no1 in Google for your keyword, advertising may still help to solidify a searchers perception that you are the company to deal with. I haven’t seen any stats on that but it sounds a reasonable argument.

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