The difference between SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) is pretty simple: one is paid advertising (SEM) and one is not (SEO).

In the search-engine game, everyone wants to be #1 … or, at the very least, on page 1. You can work your way to the top of the list organically using search engine optimization, but it takes time, perseverance, and know-how. SEO includes:

  • Ensuring your website is easy for “search bots” to scan.
  • Keeping content on your website fresh.
  • Increasing traffic to your site.
  • Getting people to stay on your site for a significant length of time.
  • Having reputable sites link to your site.
  • And more.

If you know what you’re doing, none of these tasks requires a financial output. They just require time … lots and lots of time.

For people who don’t have the patience for SEO, there’s SEM. With search engine marketing, you’re paying to snag that top position. Costs vary by industry and keyword. For example, if you’re in the insurance industry, you could pay as much as $108 every time someone clicks your ad. For other industries, not so much. In many instances, the cost per click is less than a dollar.

At Creative Spark, we recommend using an SEO-SEM combo approach. As you work to improve SEO, SEM can get you to the top spot immediately. Once your SEO starts to work its magic, you can cut back on paid ads and wallow in the satisfaction of being top dog.

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