The Basics of SEO & SEM and How They Are Different

If you have a website, you obviously want people to find you. That’s SEO.

If you want people to go to Google (or Bing, or Yahoo!, or DuckDuckGo, etc.) and find you with a paid ad, that’s SEM.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing.

Both SEO and SEM are an art and a science. Our team here at Sprout Media focuses on making sure your website content is optimized for one thing: achieving your goals.

So, how do we do it?

To get the best SEO strategy we take a three-step approach.

  1. We begin by truly and deeply understanding what our client wants to be known for.

  2. Once we know that, we do keyword research to understand as a keyword-level, how people search for that (or those) specific products / events / services.

  3. We use that research to drive how we create website content. The thing is, if you design content around how people are already searching, you’re setting yourself up for success.

On the flip side, to get the best SEM strategy, we do a bit of the same, but also more technical research.

SEO Marketing

SEO is both an art and a science.

  1. We first have to begin by understanding exactly what we need to promote. For each SEM target, it requires unique content experiences on your website. For instance, if you wanted to be found for Best Beer in Estes Park and Brewery in Estes Park, we would need to ensure that not only do we use those phrases (and their variants), but that the content on those pages is relevant and engaging.

  2. Then, when possible, we ensure Google (or whatever paid network we advertise on) knows what “success” looks like. It it just page reads, is it a purchase, or an e-mail signup. SEM gets more powerful when there is an “action” you want the searcher to take. Therefore, when someone does, Google can try to replicate that targeting.

Again, a bit of art. A bit of science. When all is said and done, we then constantly review and ensure our keywords are still the right ones and our content is still relevant.

SEO and SEM never ends but when you do it right, the benefits speak for themselves.