What are the differences between SEO and SEM Marketing?

5 mins
08 Oct 2022

This second term is very closely related to search engine optimization, it may be familiar to people who have plunged into digital marketing. SEO and SEM are important components of Digital Marketing which are equally important for optimizing websites in search engines and easy to reach users.

SEM or Search Engine Marketing carries out marketing in the form of marketing via the internet which aims to increase website visibility in search engines such as Google's SERP.

The two cannot be separated in the world of digital marketing because they are complementary and interrelated. SEM includes techniques in SEO and vice versa. These two methods do not have the same meaning, but they both serve the same purpose.

SEM optimizes websites in search engines with paid methods such as Google Ads, PPC (Pay Per Click) and Social Media Marketing.

Then SEO itself is to optimize the website system from the system aspect, content. Optimization on onpage and offpage needs to be understood to try to get the website into the 1st page of search engine rankings in order to get high traffic.


What are the differences between SEO and SEM Marketing?



1. What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

After knowing what SEM is, then what is the difference from SEO itself? From this difference, you can see the picture to determine a strategy to improve or optimize the website.


2. SEO optimization is free and SEM is not free

You need to know that SEM is not free, this method requires advertising in marketing websites or products in the form of PPC (Pay Per Click) or Google Ads. In other words, to use the SEM strategy, you must at least provide special funds to carry out this method.

While SEO is free, that's because the owner will optimize within the website system itself. When doing optimization, it takes persistence and working with web developers.


3. Results from SEM Marketing are faster

The advantage of SEM is that it can get results faster than SEO because it takes time to achieve the expected results, while SEM can be done as quickly as possible to shorten the time of the optimization process. But it should be underlined, the competition in Search Engine Marketing is quite tight with other advertisers with similar categories.


4. SEO optimization is great for the long term

SEO optimization does really take time and effort to do, but it is very good for the long term. This is due to strategies that can adapt and evolve over time and can last a long time.

While SEM is only active as long as you pay for PPC ads or Google Ads itself as long as the funds are still sufficient. As long as the advertisement is still active, this method has no effect on the marketing strategy, but when it is no longer active, it ends.


5. SEM can choose a certain audience

The advantage of SEM is that you can choose a certain audience according to your strategy regarding location, age, user habits, etc., because in essence they both aim to reach a targeted audience.


6. Which is better between SEO and SEM

After knowing what the differences between these two methods are, from a long-term perspective, I think organic SEO is the best. That's because yielding organically is a long-term approach. Although getting organic results takes time to optimize, the benefits felt afterwards are much more able to reach a more comprehensive audience.

SEM can indeed produce much faster results, but this can be optimized when funds are still available, if you may be competing with other advertisers in a similar category and then your ad is no longer active, then it is likely that competitors will overtake you.

Organic results do not depend on this, because search engines will provide good website recommendations to their users when they appear in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).

But it should be underlined, the use of black hat SEO techniques is not recommended, because it can be penalized by Google and this is very bad for the reputation of your website. We recommend that you take step by step in achieving the best according to Google rules.

Apart from organic being better than SEM, there are certain situations where PPC is needed when launching a website and wants to immediately increase its visibility for all internet users. Because with PPC, the results on the SERP can bring up faster results related to your website than SEO.

Do you already understand what the audience wants in the industry you are running? if not sure. You can use SEM for testing while optimizing organically.

The purpose of doing this testing is to test the product requested by the audience or the service offered, when later it is final, the product or service that you offer to the audience is really targeted.


7. Summary of SEO and SEM Marketing

Some summaries related to both terms are:

1. Together to help the website

These two terms together help each other website in optimizing into the best position in search results with certain keywords.

2. Both increase traffic

Visibility is the result between the two, because the better the visibility on the website, the more traffic you will get.

3. Both require keyword research

Doing research on keywords is one of the most important things in optimizing a website related to these two methods. It aims to create a strategy with other competitors to determine what keywords to use to increase the visibility of their website.

With targeted and targeted keywords, you can certainly compete with other competitors in a healthy manner.



SEO and SEM both aim to increase engagement, traffic on the website. The basic difference only lies in the way it is implemented and the effect is felt, SEO is very good for long-term results but requires a process that is not instantaneous, while SEM can choose the audience according to our wishes quickly but you have to pay.

By understanding what the two terms mean, you can determine what strategy is right for your website for the long or short term.