SEM / SEO / Paid search advertising – How does it all come together?

You are probably wondering: “What exactly is Search Engine Marketing?”

Well, let us start with how it is defined out there:

According to Wikipedia, SEM “is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising. SEM may incorporate search engine optimization (SEO), which adjusts or rewrites website content to achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages to enhance pay-per-click (PPC) listings.”

In other words, it explains the term by encompassing the 2 marketing strategies that apply to any search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other): SEO and Paid Search.

. What is S.E.O.?

According to, we can translated SEO as “the process of improving the visibility of a website on organic (“natural” or un-paid) search engine result pages (SERPs), by incorporating search engine friendly elements into a website.”

. What is Paid Search?

As explained by“Paid search marketing means you advertise within the sponsored listings of a search engine or a partner site by paying either each time your ad is clicked (pay-per-click – PPC) or less commonly, when your ad is displayed (cost-per-impression – CPM).

To fully understand these 2 key concepts, nothing like an image of a SERP example for “online marketing“:

SERP example

The question at hand:

It seems clear how they coexist and differentiate, but nowadays SEM has become just another name for PPC. Is this a legitimate connotation?

My take on this lies on the broad nature of the term Search Engine Marketing. It seems logic to me to split SEM into pay-per-click advertising through search network and search engine optimization, as both areas connect with it by using SEARCH in their names and using a search engine as they territory of action.

Furthermore, I believe that once you convey the concept of SEM as Paid Search advertising, it may be misleading to the less online marketing savvy students out there. Although I do get the immediate association, I argue to keep it close to its roots and define both strategies under the scope of Search Engine Marketing.

The guys over wrote an interesting and in-depth article about this topic and key notions of SEM: “What Is SEM & Paid Search Marketing?“.

What do you think? Do you have a different take on this?
Let me know on the comments below.


2 thoughts on “SEM / SEO / Paid search advertising – How does it all come together?

  1. Pingback: Digital Strategy in the online world | A LOOK INSIDE THE MARKETING MIND

  2. Pingback: S.E.O Explained | A LOOK INSIDE THE MARKETING MIND

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