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What is the difference between SEM and SEO?

In a saturated digital world, it becomes essential to know the most effective SEO strategies to differentiate yourself from your competitors. SEO and SEM are relevant digital strategies that allow you to meet several objectives such as conversion.

The art of playing with keywords

In an ecosystem where users are overwhelmed with content, what tactics should be adopted to ensure you stand out from the multiple product or service found on search engines?

The art of playing with keywords is an essential tool to stand out from your competitors and achieve certain objectives such as promoting your brand. It is relevant to look at the different online marketing models that allow you to optimize the use of keywords, such as SEO and SEM.

What is SEO?

The acronym SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization from an organic point of view only. The goal of this strategy is to rank your website so that it is more easily accessible by offering a better location on search engines. To succeed in this natural referencing, it is necessary to use relevant keywords that will be most often used by your target audience. For example, in terms of digital marketing, the most relevant keywords would be marketing, digital marketing and e-commerce because they are frequently used keywords related to your subject. Creating internal links that bring consumers back to your own website is also an effective strategy for optimizing your content. To ensure that you are successful in your SEO consult this article.

What is SEM?

The acronym SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing, this concept includes both the organic, SEO, and paid components of the website ranking on search engines. For the paid component, the use of search tools such as PPC is a quick and efficient way to get results. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) means that the advertiser will only be charged when a customer clicks on the ad. It is therefore relevant for the advertiser to use tools like Google Ads to be able to set up a sponsored link that appears when a specific keyword is searched. You can therefore create an ad that will be displayed when a customer searches for a product or service similar to yours. Google Ads is therefore effective in increasing your sales and brand awareness. Your ads will surely be seen by the right audience, already interested in your product or service, which will help you increase your conversion rate effectively.

When should you consider SEM?

Depending on the specific needs of your business, it is pertinent to consider what kind of strategy is relevant for you. For quick service businesses with a sense of urgency such as a plumber, locksmith, limited ticket offer, or even news like LaPresse, it is wise to consider doing SEM. This strategy includes a pay-for-performance strategy that allows for quick but short-term results.

Does doing SEM means not doing SEO?

Doing SEM does not mean not doing SEO, as it is an integral part of the search engine marketing strategy.

Adopting this strategy is relevant for all types of businesses that are trying to gain visibility quickly by improving their SEO. However, it is important not to rely solely on a paid strategy such as PPC as this type of search tool only provides temporary results. On the other hand, relying solely on an organic strategy can be a long and laborious process for your business.

2021 SEM best practices

Therefore, one of the best SEM practices in 2021 would be to combine both organic and paid strategies to be able to really optimize your content and achieve effective and sustainable rankings. This combination of strategies will ensure that you get the benefits that both can provide while filling in the gaps in each of them.

The organic strategy will give you a better understanding of the performing keywords and behaviors of your target audience in addition to creating a more sustainable ranking on the chosen search platforms. The paid strategy will be able to offer you quick and almost instant results. However, these results will be unsustainable without a constant marketing budget.

Another interesting practice to adopt for SEM would be to position yourself on advertising platforms that have not yet reached saturation and where the consumer is still receptive to the advertising effort. The first reflex would be to position yourself only on the most popular platforms like Google Ads. However, by diversifying your investments on several platforms such as Bing or LinkedIn Ads, you will help you obtain a better referencing, by the lesser number of competitors as well as the possibility to benefit from various advantages that each platform has to offer.

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    Questions to ask yourself:

    • Do you have a Google Ads account?
    • What are you selling, a product or a service?
    • Is your SEO helping you reach your conversion goals?


    Backlinko. (n.d.). What’s the Difference Between SEO and SEM? Retrieved June 16, 2021. Online

    Search Engine Land. (n.d.). What is PPC? Your complete guide to PPC advertising. June 16, 2021. Online

    Rende, N. (n.d.). SEM: Tips, Benefits, & How It Relates to SEO. HubSpot. Retrieved June 16, 2021. Online

    Russell, R. (2021, March 24). What Is PPC? A Beginner’s Guide – Better Marketing. BetterMarketing. Online

    E-Commerce Nation. (2019, February 22). 5 tendances SEM à ne pas perdre de vue en 2019. ECN. Online 

    Godin, C. (2020, September 10). Le SEO bien fait. Online

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    Caroline Godin

    Billy.Social Founder

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