What is the difference between SEM, SEO, PPC and AdWords?

Jan 17, 2015

Home » Blog » SEO » What is the difference between SEM, SEO, PPC and AdWords?

SEM = Search Engine Marketing SEM increases a website’s visibility on Google and other search engines

Examples of SEM…(more details/definitions below)

1) SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

2) SERM (Search Engine Reputation Management) – similar to PR for a business’ reputation on search engines

3) PPC Advertising (Pay-Per-Click Advertising) –Google AdWords, Yahoo and Bing

SEM Quick Background

In today’s focus on internet search results, there are many thousands of companies and experts that focus on how to show up higher on a simple Google search. SEM is a process-driven method of improving these results.

SEO = Search Engine Optimization

SEO’s focus to make sure your website or company shows up in Google search results ahead of your competition when an individual searches any term related to your company and your services. Companies have the option to pay Google to show up at the top of the list, but strong SEO will place your company near the top “organically” because you’re a natural fit for the search, and more relevant than others. Ultimately, you’d like your company to be the #1 listed “organic” website, meaning you’re the best search fit besides companies with large marketing budgets that are paying to be there. This takes expertise (note anytime someone goes to your site “organically” is a free lead, you don’t pay Google for this.)

SEO is Directly Related to Satisfying Your Online Visitors

People want an easy-to-understand website that as close to their original search parameters as possible, and generally they’re looking for more information on how to make a purchase. Good SEO requires simple technical tasks to make sure that Google can understand your website and for which searches it is relevant.

Search Engines like Sites that have Lots of Hyperlinks w Related & Relevant Websites

If you have strong, unique, and relevant content on your company’s website, relevant links grow in frequency and relevance over time. We suggest that anytime another relevant site or company is complementary of your product or service, link to their site and ask their managers to do the same for you.

Social Media is Accelerating the Entire Process

In today’s Social Media Age, any websites or companies that get “Liked” or “Shared” within users’ social media networks accelerate the Company’s SEO to drive higher search results. Having a strong Social Media presence encourages positive customer reviews to share with their friends and positive opinions to spread to others, driving even better search results.

PPC = Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Ads that show at the top and bottom of your search results pages or on the top right of your screen on Google or Facebook (as well as a ton of other places).

Google AdWords vs Organic Search Results

Generally the way PPC ads work is Google will place them for free based on their search algorithms, and anytime a search user clicks, the advertiser pays a fee (they’re free to list). Very often PPC ads are charged at different rates for every 1000 impressions, or independent visitors. AdWords is Google’s PPC and takes the lion’s share of ad dollars, somewhere in excess of 90% spent!

Generally speaking, AdWords provides the best results given how much traffic flows through Google search. Text ads are the most prevalent these days, while video ads continue to grow every day. In general PPC can be very profitable, particularly when your business focuses on one customer or segment with limited competition. Lower competition generally means less demand for ad space, which ends up with better pricing for you and better returns on your advertising budget.

Basic PPC Terminology

CPC (Cost Per Click) – CPC pricing varies depending on the competitiveness of the industry and can range from a few cents for niche segments up to over $50 for financial services.

Cost Per Conversion – This is how much you spend in total in order to drive your fist sale, or conversion. For example, if your CPC is $10, and ten people click your ad before the first buys, then your Cost Per Conversion is $10 ($1 per ad x 10 people clicking).

CPM (Cost Per Mille/1000 Views) – CPM is a bidding strategy when you care more about viewable impressions than clicks. This is best for when your primary objective is brand awareness, so it’s more about views than clicks.

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