A lot of people use the terms SEO and SEM interchangeably, while others think they’re two different online marketing strategies. This just goes to show how confused people are about page rankings and “selling” websites on the Internet. It’s actually pretty simple: SEO is just a part of the bigger umbrella called SEM, so there is a difference between the two concepts, but that doesn’t separate one from the other.
As a matter of fact, no one can really talk about SEO without bringing in the basic principles behind SEM, because SEO is one of the main components of SEM. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is a technique that organically polished website content so that they’re more easily recognized by search engines. The more they’re recognized by search engines, the higher they’ll be ranked in directories. It then follows that top ranked websites get more traffic compared to those who are not listed in the first page of searches.
Simply put, SEO has a lot to do with manipulating the textual content of the website so that these mention and repeat specific keywords. Of course, the really good SEO strategists never compromise the quality of the content just to load the website’s text with keywords. They also consider human readers who would be looking for relevant information and not just garbage text.
SEM, on the other hand, stands for Search Engine Marketing. While SEO is one of its strategies, it doesn’t stop at that. SEM also includes the submission of the website’s URL to directories and search engines, paid online promotions, pay-per-click ads, a pro-active monitoring of the link or website’s popularity and reputation, and the active monitoring of the website’s traffic online.
Perhaps there is a difference between the two, after all, because SEO is the most passive component of SEM. The other strategies (paid ads, etc.) are not organic (or natural), which means that they’re more pro-active than search engine optimization efforts. Most SEM efforts are used by online businesses, and people who are actively developing their blogs so they can sell it to someone else.