18 March 2016

SEO Search Engine Optimisation


A frequent question we receive from our clients is what is the difference between SEO and SEM?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) can be a confusing concept to grasp. You have most probably heard of both but not sure what the difference is.

There is a difference between both terms and it is important to understand what it is. Especially when determining how to allocate marketing funds and key business resources. Although, they have very similar roles, they share one goal: to bring users to your site.

To sum it up, SEO is a component of SEM. That doesn’t say a lot does it? Ok, so let’s look at this in more detail.

What is SEO?

SEO involves making your website as attractive and user-friendly as possible and is aimed at increasing your websites visibility in search engines such as Google.

As Google would say search engine optimisation is ‘the process of maximising the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.’

SEO is what makes a website ‘search engine friendly.’ It is strictly unpaid, only related to ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ search results and is different to Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising.

On-Site and Off-Site SEO

SEO is made up of two main pillars:

On-Site SEO

This is anything that you do with your website to optimize it for search engines.  

  • Tags and Meta Tags (Meta descriptions, alt tags, titles, etc.)
  • Web content – quality and uniqueness
  • Optimized page load speed
  • Domain name
  • Anchor texts
  • Well formatted URL’s
  • Internal linking

Off-Site SEO

This is the process of getting votes from other websites for the purpose of increasing your website’s trust for the intention of search engines.

  • Link building to attract and obtain quality back links
  • Reputation management
  • Social media engagement

With Google’s every changing algorithm, the practice of link building has also changed. It is no longer just about how many links direct back to your site. The quality and authority of the sites you are linked from also contributes to determine if your site is credible or not.

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing is usually referred to short text advertisements, which generally appear at the top or down the right hand side of search engine results (which Google has now removed). You can read about ‘Saying Goodbye to Google’s Right Hand Side’ here. These advertisements are labelled as ‘sponsored links.’

An easier way to describe this is that SEM focuses on gaining search traffic through the use of paid advertising. It is a type of marketing that promotes websites by making them more visible on search engine results page.

Common methods of SEM include:

  • SEO (free)
  • PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Advertising: You pay every time someone click on your ad link
  • Paid Inclusion
  • Traditional ads

What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

So now that we have looked at SEO and SEM in more detail, it is easier to understand what the differences are between the two.

To conclude, SEO aims to provide a better organic search result, whereas SEM uses the search engines to advertise your website or business to internet customers and to send more traffic to your website. SEO is a non-paid component of SEM.

SEO Advantages

  • SEO is a long term approach, however in the long run it allows businesses to establish search credibility.
  • It is inexpensive. Therefore it will reduce costs, allowing you to spend money on other important areas of the business.

SEM Advantages

  • Paying most of the time gets you further quicker. With SEM you can have instant web traffic, without the long wait through organic search rankings.
  • SEM guarantees better visibility on search engine result pages (SERP’s) which SEO cannot guarantee.

If you want an eCommerce site, you need to be visible in both organic and advertised links, which means you need both SEO and SEM. Many might argue one is better than the other, but ultimately you need both to succeed.

If you want more information on understanding how SEO and SEM can benefit your business, give us a call here at FDC Leicester on 01164 244 244.



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