Top San Francisco SEO Company Explains the Difference between SEO and SEM

Nov 19, 2019Blog, Guest posts, Webdesign

You don’t need to know how people find your webpage, you just need them to find it. All these terms SEO, SEM, SERP, CPV, CRO, they don’t mean much to your business, that’s only for people who are trying to sell internet services. This is the sort of thinking that is used by people who really don’t see the point in having a website at all, and certainly, don’t understand the value in social media for improving sales.

While you don’t need to have an in-depth understanding of all the various terms associated with internet marketing and website creation, you do have to have a basic grasp of the concepts in order to ensure that you are going to be able to reach your end-user. Using resources like can help you to cover the basic concepts and give you enough of an understanding to make you dangerous.

Top San Francisco SEO Company Explains the Difference between SEO and SEM

Getting a free consultation with a company that specialises in online advertising and marketing is actually a really good idea for any business, but you will often find that these companies try to “baffle with bullshit”. Having enough knowledge to be able to confidently say that you have no idea what they are talking about will have the dual effect of weeding out firms that use poor techniques and ensuring that you don’t see your website get fewer hits by hiring someone who doesn’t know what they’re on about.


Getting to the point of this article, the difference between two of the most commonly used acronyms “SEO” – which stands for Search Engine Optimization and “SEM” which stands for Search Engine Marketing.

On the surface, both terms actually have a lot of common. The aim is to ensure that your online presence is the one that everyone uses. It doesn’t matter if you sell cat grooming products that are specifically for use on black cats or if you offer assistance for people who need to find more joy in their lives, in order for people to find you online they are either going to have to know your exact URL/web address or they are going to have to search. Most of the time people aren’t searching for your business name, they’re searching for the goods and services you offer.

Search Engine Marketing

This is a really broad topic that covers a wide range of quite specialized subsets, including SEO. However, just like any other form of marketing, SEM a blanket term the covers the different strategies a company uses to increase their online presence. This may include online advertising through headline banners, google adwords, sponsored or promoted content on social media and video advertising on YouTube videos.

To achieve successful marketing of any sort you need to know your audience, what appeals to them, and where to find them. One of the advantages of internet advertising over traditional print or broadcast methods is that you can fine-tune the targeting (see here). This means if you have found that most of your black cat hair grooming products are purchased by the husbands of cat moms, you would have to decide if you were going to be aiming your advertising to appeal to the husbands of the women who dote on their cats.

Search Engine Optimization x Search Engine Marketing

Marketing To Your Audience

From a general marketing view, you can find many, many, examples of advertising missing their target audience, with one of the more classic examples being a men’s underwear company who created a very male-targeted marketing campaign that completely flopped. Why? Because the primary person buying underwear isn’t men, it’s the wives, girlfriends, daughters and mothers in the man’s life.

Once you understand the basics of SEM you can start to plan how you will be creating a marketing plan that will take your real-world presence and integrate seamlessly into an online presence.

Part of this is going to be to look at your website to ensure that it is actually contributing to the brand.

SEO Is Not Manipulation

There is this idea that you need SEO to beat Google. Which is the wrong way of thinking? SEO is not something to be done, it is a way of increasing the useful information that your website provides to your potential customers. Ensuring that you have appropriate headings that give a clear indication about what the topic is, having images that are accessible with useful titles and descriptions, having easy to use (and well labelled) navigation systems are all things that will contribute to how you will be ranked by search engines. Look at the example report here:

Keeping your content relevant and on-brand for your business is important

Even if you do manage to find some magic loophole that Google hasn’t closed up and you find yourself ranking number 1 on the search engine results page, it will do you absolutely no good if once people click on your site they find they can’t read it, they can’t use it, and they can’t find anything useful on it.


Graphic and website designer, currently, I attend to the maintenance of about thirty sites for existing clients as well as creating websites for the new ones. In my free time, I get into the secrets of the world of Linux, SSH, WP-CLI and I’m preparing this blog.

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