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SEO and SEM: Differences and Benefits


Ahmiw Blog - SEO and SEM are terms that are not common. For those of you business people in the digital field, may have heard these terms but do not understand what is the difference between the two.

These two terms are indeed often used interchangeably, never used together. When someone uses the term SEO, he usually does not necessarily mention the term SEM. The solution? You need to read our article this time.

We will start with the correct basic understanding of each of these terms. We will also mention what the application looks like so that you can gradually understand the difference between the two. Finally, we will answer your big question, which is the best marketing technique for your website / business.

Let's get started!

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which means the optimization process of the website and all its aspects (content, system, etc.) so that it ranks well in search engines like Google.

If you want to get more website visitors and get more potential customers, SEO is one of the main ways. How can? So, when a Google user searches for cellphone recommendations under 2 million for example, he will type the keyword "cellphone under 2 million" and the results that appear on the first page will be accessed / read. If you are lucky, he will read your article and intend to buy a cell phone product in your place as well (if you are an e-commerce website selling the cellphone).

What appears on the first page of Google's search results is a page from an optimized website (through SEO). This is the importance of SEO, when almost all internet users rely on the giant search engine, Google.

This SEO is actually a component of a larger category that is Search Engine Marketing (SEM) itself.

SEO's unwritten laws and rules are constantly changing along with changes in the search engine algorithm itself from time to time. However, there is one aspect of SEO that remains consistent namely: On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO. This is the core component of SEO.

On-Page SEO includes:

Naturally enter target keywords in the blogpost title, heading tag, meta description, etc.

Spruce up the format of your page / page URL.

Optimizing the speed of loading your website pages.

Integrate social media sharing with your content.

And many other optimization activities including On-Page SEO. We have created a special article in the form of a comprehensive guide to On-Page SEO. Find out more about On-Page SEO.

Off-Page SEO includes:

Make high quality backlinks and place them naturally.

Implement Local SEO.

In addition, there is another important Off-Page SEO activity. We have created a special article in the form of a comprehensive guide to Off-Page SEO. Find out more about Off-Page SEO.

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

SEM is an abbreviation of Search Engine Marketing which means a form of marketing on the internet through website promotion activities by increasing the visibility of the website itself on search engine results pages such as Google (SERP). This SEM includes SEO tactics that we have previously discussed, as well as several other related marketing techniques. This definition is summarized from Wikipedia.

What Components are Included in SEM?

In addition to optimizing search engines, SEM also includes the use of paid search as a component. What are some examples? Such as pay-per-click (PPC) lists and advertisements such as Google Ads. So for the most part, the forms are campaigns (advertisements) and PPC activities. Well if you do SEO, this also includes SEM efforts.

So, What's the Difference Between SEO and SEM?


SEO increases the number of website visitors by making the web appear at the highest rank on the search results pages on search engines. SEM is greater in scope, considered as marketing on the internet that increases web visibility through organic search engine results and also through advertising. So SEM covers SEO activities as well as marketing tactics / strategies in other search engines.

Now that's the main difference between the two terms namely that search engine optimization (SEO) is just a component of search engine marketing (SEM). As we mentioned earlier above, SEM includes paid search components such as PPC and even includes SMM (Social Media Marketing).

It is important to note that you may not use the terms SEO and SEM together for a specific purpose. Why? Because even though they work side by side, they are not the same term. There is a hierarchy there (SEO is part of SEM, SEM is not part of SEO, SEO is one of SEM strategies).

Which Marketing Tactic is Better, SEM or SEO?


Many marketers / marketing divisions in a business area are debating whether one is better than another. As a representative of the marketing division, I think that organic SEO is the best approach. Why do I think so? As you can see, SEM can't really succeed without using organic SEO tactics.

You might be tempted to do Black Hat SEO techniques, the results can be instant but the impact especially the risk of penalties from Google that you can receive can also destroy what you wake up in just a moment.

In addition, there are indeed many situations / cases where PPC (a component of SEM) makes more sense than SEO. For example, if you first launch a website and you want to immediately increase its visibility for internet users out there, then the logic is faster and more effective to create a PPC campaign. Why? Because this campaign requires less time than SEO activity (the results of which might not appear briefly).

However, even though organic SEO takes more time to display results, it will ultimately be cheaper if you can develop the credibility of YOUR website on search engines (building this credibility you can't create with campaigns like PPC)

So, what should I do? Run both in tandem. Both are equally important. However, about which time to start first, it is important to evaluate your specific needs. However, once again make sure to fully understand the difference between the two with regard to your targets / interests and how you are able to sustain your efforts.

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