The Difference Between SEO and SEM


Recently, “Debbie” from Florida asked me the following question about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). I’ll share my answer with you here for the benefit of others with the same question:

The Difference Between SEO and SEM

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of maximizing your website so that the search engines ranking algorithms (web-crawlers) will provide your site higher ranking (position 1, 2, etc.) in the search list. Google is the primary target for this type of website optimization.

There are numerous articles on the subject of how Google’s algorithm work in ranking pages based on a general “sweet-spot” of keyword placement, repetition and percentage within a web page.

If you find all this talk about SEO a little overwhelming, and just do not fathom yourself performing it yourself, then there are SEO service companies that can do this for you.

Prices vary whether you’re doing a monthly retainer or hourly rate. Monthly retainer fees can range between $750 – $5,000, whereas hourly rates can range from $100 – $300.

You may find cheap SEO packages than this; but be careful, you get what you pay for.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) falls into two primary categories:

1) Pay-Per-Click (PPC), and

2) Pay-Per-Impression (PPI).

Pay-Per-Click is just like it sounds, paying a search engine to deliver an actual click of an advertisement that leads to your site.

Using the PPC method, you have the option of choosing how much you are going to spend for each click that occurs on your ad.

Keep in mind that if you are starting your ad using highly competitive keywords, then you may have to fight for position by spending more on a click.

Again, it all depends on the competition for the keyword. If it is low you’ll spend less, if it’s higher then you’ll pay more.

Set your budget either by how much you are willing to spend each day for the length of the campaign, or maximum cost per click per day.

Other options you have control over is the location of the ad. Such as, city, state, country and time of day.

If you are advertising a business in a specific area, then you will want to be as precise as possible.

Pay-Per-Impression you’ll be bidding on how much you’ll spend on the number of impressions your ad receives.

You’ll still use keywords (if you’re using Google), or you can specify what type of website you want your ad to show in.

Keep in mind if you choose to spend $10 on a 10,000 impressions a day (without setting boundaries for your campaign), you could burn through your budget in in an hour without receiving any new visitors to your site.

The key to either PPC or PPI, is to be as specific as possible and use keywords that are relevant to your site and you’re advertising.

If you use an advertising campaign other than Google, which I have done, your options will be different.

Google has SEO tools and resources to help guide you through creating an effective campaign, as well as a keyword planner to help you determine which keywords are relevant to your website.

Final Thoughts

This is the fundamental differences between SEO and SEM, as well as PPC and PPI. The key to either of these is to be specific when you begin your campaign.

Always use the best keywords and information to target your ads only to those whom you want to see them. Nothing is more frustrating then to scrape the money together to launch an advertising campaign, only to see lackluster results or no results.

Hopefully you found these tips on SEO, SEM, PPC and PPI helpful. If you benefited from this article, please share it with others so they too can benefit from it.


God bless,


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