SEO and SEM are two similar concepts; that is why you can easily get confused when using these terms. We will explain the differences between them, but first of all, let’s define SEO and SEM. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it contains all of the operations that are carried out in order to improve websites’ rankings on the search engine results page.
On the other hand, SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. One of the most widely used SEM tools is Google AdWords. SEM briefly means publishing paid ads through search engines.
Now let’s look at the differences between these two digital marketing methods:
It depends on your budget if you are using AdWords because you will be on the search results according to the amount of money you pay. The competition between ads can cause your ad to be on the lower rankings or not to be seen at all. For that reason, your website cannot stay on the SERP (search engine result pages) permanently. However, you can preserve your rank with a right long-term SEO operation. Let’s say that your site is on the first page. Your site will be on the first page unless there is a mistake that is made in the SEO operation or a change in the algorithms.
The results of SEM, in other words advertising services such as AdWords and Yandex Direct, are much more instantaneous than SEO. You can see the return of your ads and reach conversion reports in only one day. You can stop, change your ads or you can create new ones whenever you want. In search engine optimization, on the other hand, you cannot see the results in such a short time because it requires a long term work. It may take 1 or 2 months to measure the effect and efficiency of SEO.
SEO is more cost-effective than SEM. There is not a fixed cost for SEM because the cost per click changes constantly, in some cases increases, according to the offers of other advertisers. However, SEO has a fixed cost that is decided beforehand and this price does not go up. When it is compared to the cost of AdWords, SEO is more economical.
CTR (Click-Through Rate):
Searchers do not show a tendency to click ads. Ads with commercial purposes might not have the content that the searchers look for. Users mostly click the pages from organic results because they think that they can find the precise content in those pages. According to the results of research, users prefer SEO at the rate of 80% while SEM has a rate of 20%. In brief, Search engine optimization has a higher CTR rate.
As we said, SEM has a commercial purpose and that is why most of the time the contents do not satisfy the searchers’ needs completely. SEO aims the benefit of the users and user friendly contents appear on the rankings.
First Page Guarantee:
As Google claims in its own advertising policy, SEM does not promise you to be on the first page or the first rank. On the other side, you can rise to the first page with a right SEO strategy. Moreover, you may stay there for a long time.
Through SEM strategies, you will be on the online platform depending on your budget for SEM and your presence will not need to be long. SEO strategies constantly improve your rank and help you present your brand at higher ranks. In terms of brand recognition, SEO makes a great and effective contribution. Think about a site being on the first rank temporarily with an AdWords advertisement. Then, think about a site being on the first rank on the organic search. Which one would be more prestigious for you?
For more detailed information about SEO: 7 SEO Facts You May Not Know