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SEO VS SEM - Commons & Differences

SEO VS SEM – Commons & Differences

Now, more and more people own their online business websites, and many of them utilize SEO and SEM to market their business. However, although webmasters have close contact with the two terms every day, most people still cannot figure out what is SEO or SEM and have no idea about where are their commons and differences.

Under this condition, we decide to write SEO VS SEM to explain all the questions comprehensively, expecting that readers can acquire some useful knowledge and put it into practice after reading.

What Are SEO and SEM?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is used to getting free traffic from search engines according to the organic ranking place. An optimized website can be discovered by search engine crawlers easily, and accordingly, the site will have more chances to get a good ranking place.


SEM is the acronym of search engine marketing, which aims to get more visibility in search engines by several ways including getting free traffic by SEO or paying to search engines for more traffic. From the point, we can see that SEM is a wider concept that contains SEO.

The Commons Between SEO and SEM

As different and related concept, there is only one definite point shared by both SEO and SEM, which is their purpose. Just like we have mentioned in their brief definition, both SEO and SEM are used to bring traffic to websites. This is why a lot of people attach much importance on them.

The Differences Between SEO and SEM

Although SEO and SEM are two similar terms, they do have some differences that make them exist separately. In the following, we are going to list their varieties from every subtle aspect, including methods, time duration, and costs and time-consuming.


SEO and SEM use different methods to get the same purpose – bringing more traffic. Usually, there are several ways to boost website SEO:


  • Create readable and rich content to catch search engines’ notice
  • Use some SEO tools and services such as Google Webmaster Tool and Ping service.
  • Apply keyword analysis and keywords
  • Build more backlinks through various methods
  • Add social media like or shared icons to your site

On the other side, those mentioned solutions are also applicable for SEM, but the differences lie in that search engine marketing can bring traffic by paid search advertising. Once you have paid money for search engines, you can get advertising space in searching results. Then, as long as people search relevant items, your websites can appear at the top of the result.

Time Duration

TimeIf you strive to boost website SEO, then, you can enjoy long-term benefits because you create a better and more complete website in the process. However, SEM is just on the contrary. Once you stop paying for the advertising space, then, you’ll lose traffic for your visibility disappears entirely and suddenly.

Costs & Time-consuming

You can improve website SEO by promoting the quality of the content and paying attention to detailed points without spending a cent. However, because of different working pattern, using SEM needs to pay per link that means you need to pay for the search engines if people click the sponsored link. Thus, SEM is more expensive than SEO.

It is also because of their different working patterns; SEO may take more time to get effective while SEM can bring more traffic immediately.


Based on all the aspects revealed above, we believe that you have a clear idea about the similarities and varieties between SEO and SEM. Actually, both methods have special merits; thus, the best way to drive more traffic to your stunning websites is to combine the two solutions together.


Lucy has been a very experienced SEOer, technical writer, web developer, c# developer since 2002. Now she owns a startup in San Francisco, CA, focusing on running a couple of blogs to share knowledge and experience with global readers and deliver exceptional results to global sponsors by leveraging the power of Internet.