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SEO vs SEM vs PPC - What is the Real Difference?

SEO vs SEM vs PPC - What is the Real Difference?

SEO vs SEM vs PPC - What is the Real Difference?

Wondered why some pages rank higher than others when you search in Google? It's because of SEO, SEM, and PPC by digital marketers. But how do they differ from each other?


SEO, SEM, and PPC are all technical terms that every marketer should know if they use any search engine at all. While searching on Google, you must have noticed that some web pages come up on top while others are on the bottom of a page. Ever wondered why?

If this question constantly buzzes around in your mind, then you have come to the right place. In this article, you are going to get your questions answered. In addition, you will learn the importance of SEO, SEM, and PPC and why every marketer needs them at this age.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This refers to using specific keywords on your webpage to make them rank higher while searching for something in Google. For example, suppose you search for information on a person. In that case, their Wikipedia page is the first link that appears on top. This happens because of the use of SEO.

Whenever you search for something in Google, you type in some specific words relevant to what you are looking for. For example, if you want to know how to make sandwiches, you type in 'how to make sandwiches, or 'best sandwich recipe.' These words that you type in to search for the information you are looking for are keywords.

Good content creators for web pages always mention topic-relevant keywords like these multiple times on the page. This is because Google uses a search algorithm to match the words you searched for with words on all web pages. Therefore, the more these keywords appear on the webpage, the higher they rank in search results.

A good marketing tactic is to make web page content around relevant SEO keywords. This includes making the page's title using these keywords and much more. Similarly, you might have found this page if you typed in SEO, PPC, or SEM in the Google Search box.

What is PPC?

PPC stands for Pay Per Click. This refers to the practice of an advertiser paying the publisher a certain amount of money. This happens whenever someone clicks on an advertisement and visits the webpage. This drives traffic in the form of more visits to a particular website.

Since advertising became necessary and profitable for businesses, its use has become commonplace. Firms nowadays invest lots of money in their digital advertisements to make potential customers visit their page and buy products. Money is given to digital marketing experts to create visually appealing advertisements to generate customer interest.

For example, all advertisements you see on Facebook or Google are paid for by companies. Google also shows these advertisements as per the search habits of users. For example, you might see advertisements related to new smartphones if you searched about them recently.

Every time you click on the advertisement, these publishers charge money. Since Google, Facebook, YouTube, and other search engines are all free to use, these PPC advertisements become their primary source of income. Most big firms have realized the importance of PPC out in the world. They invest in good digital marketing teams to make great advertisements. This makes their websites and advertisements easily discoverable and appealing.

What is SEM?

You might have heard about SEO and PPC before, but SEM might seem new. This is because it combines SEO and PPC, along with many other marketing techniques.

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. It is a broad umbrella term encompassing every digital marketing effort made in search engines like Google. The main goal of SEM is to inform people about your company and the products and services you offer. Digital marketing is often tied with SEM, though the latter focuses more on the search engine aspect of marketing.

PPC is one of the significant parts of SEM since both technically do the same thing - make your company webpage discoverable in search engines. SEO and digital advertisements (PPC) can achieve a high level of discoverability in search engines.

Many practices like bidding for specific keywords have become helpful in SEM. For example, the advertisements of many brands will show up when you search for something specific on Google. It will still appear even though it's not what you searched for. As long as it is similar to what you searched for, these advertisements will show up because brands paid the search engines for them.

Main differences between SEO, SEM, and PPC

To address the elephant in the room, what are the main differences between these three? The most obvious difference is that PPC is a significant part of SEM, but SEO is not. So, though SEO is tied to SEM as a digital marketing technique, they are pretty different.

SEO leads to a higher ranking of your webpage in search engines. This leads to more organic visits to your webpage, which leads to a better conversion rate. On the other hand, SEM is pricier because, unlike SEO, it is paid. You pay for every advertisement you want Google to feature.

The difference between SEO and PPC is quite clear. One deals with search engine keywords in web pages, while the latter deals with advertisements. However, it is not difficult to measure the effectiveness of SEO. With PPC, you can track how many advertisements people have clicked when shown and at which rate. This is available with the use of Google Analytics.

SEO and PPC are more and less the same, with SEM being a broader term. Both show advertisements on search engines, and both are measurable. However, the main difference between them is that PPC allows brands to showcase their advertisement on multiple websites that fall under the network of Google. This also includes YouTube. SEM, on the other hand, only deals with search engines.


Now that you know what SEO, PPC, and SEM are, along with their main differences, you are one step ahead of becoming a great digital marketer! Apple these three together in your firm's marketing strategy and expect to see great results!

Sofia kelly

Authored By Sofia Kelly

Sofia Kelly is a passionate blogger. She loves to share her thoughts, ideas and experiences with the world through blogging. Sofia Kelly is associated with The Daily Notes, Content Rally, Real Wealth Business, Online News Buzz etc.

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