At Marketing TEA our philosophy is that your marketing strategy should be proactive, not reactive. SEO and SEM fall onto the reactive side of marketing while social media and content marketing falls on the proactive side. With our proactive approach, we are reaching audiences before they even realize they are in a need of a business like yours. We don’t want to wait for them to search for your services into Google. We want to cross paths with them and start that relationship well before they go looking. That is why proactive tactics like social media and content marketing are the best place to start for any business. However, there are times when reactive strategies can be beneficial to your marketing success if done correctly. 

When you hear people throwing around the acronyms SEO and SEM, do you know what they mean? You might have a slightly better understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but you might not understand Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Or you might have just thought they were the same thing. If this is you, don’t worry, you are not alone! The two terms are often used interchangeably even though they are very different. While they are different, they also complement each other when done correctly. Are you ready to dive in and learn the key differences between SEO and SEM? Let’s go!


The Difference

Search Engine Optimization is an organic search strategy. 

Search Engine Marketing is a paid search strategy. 


Benefit of SEO

SEO is all about getting your website to rank higher organically within search results on Google. Your SEO is affected by how well you optimize your website and social media profiles. That can be done by using keywords, meta tags, alt text, and backlinks. Most focus on their websites, but don’t forget about your social profiles too! Have you ever noticed how if you search for someone on Google, one of the top results is always their Facebook page? Large social media platforms like Facebook have their own SEO built-in. Having a presence there will help you rank higher on Google.

SEO is incredibly important because it helps you get your name in front of a large pool of potential clients for FREE. If they search ‘[key description of your business]’ we may want your site to pop up somewhere on the first page of Google.  That way, it’s a strong possibility they click through to your site. This is beneficial for your business in many ways like increased visibility and relevant leads.


Benefit of SEM

SEM goes beyond SEO. This is a paid search marketing tactic used to reach new customers and increase revenues. Here, businesses pay a search engine like Google to show their ads in the search results. When you see a Google search result that has ‘Ad’ at the top, that is SEM. Your ads show up in search engine results pages right next to the organic listings, which increases your chance of visibility.

Utilizing SEM is a great way to get your business to the top of the results and ensure more people see your page. Another benefit of SEM is that it can be targeted to a specific audience of your choosing. Your content will be placed in front of audiences who are most likely to convert when they click on your ads.


Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing are most effective when used together. If you have high-quality SEO and focus on organic search results, that will then benefit your placed SEM ads. Without landing pages, blog content, LOTS of social media content, and optimized social media profiles, your SEM efforts will fall flat because potential audiences won’t be impressed with what you have to offer and will simply click off your site. When both are leveraged to their full potential, they can offer you amazing marketing results.

Reactive strategies aren’t necessarily an important step for every business to focus on. Feel free to ask us whether SEO/SEM is applicable for your business or if content marketing should be your focus!