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How Does SEM Differ From SEO?

By Emily Filener in 

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A solid digital marketing plan is essential for a business to succeed in the modern era. In fact, according to WordStream, 72% of overall marketing budgets get put towards digital marketing channels. If you're looking to improve your business's online presence, you'll likely hear the terms "SEM" and "SEO" a lot, but you may not be sure exactly what these terms mean or how they differ from one another. Here's a brief overview of the two.


Search engine optimization (SEO) aims to get a site to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) for Google and other search engines. This entails strategically incorporating strong keywords into different areas of the site. A lot of moving pieces are involved in this process, from researching the most effective keywords to use to carefully curating high-quality onsite content.

Google's algorithm for choosing how to rank sites is extremely complicated to navigate, so SEO is work that's definitely best left to seasoned professionals. Using the wrong strategies could not only fail to raise your site up on the SERP; it could also result in Google penalizing your site and ranking it lower. The right digital marketing company will have the expertise to build an effective SEO plan for your business so you can see the results you need.


Search engine marketing (SEM) is similar to SEO in that it involves connecting prospective customers to a website via search engine results. Where SEM differs from SEO is its focus on paid search results. With SEM, you can pay a fee to have your site show up in ads that appear before the organic (ie. unpaid) search results. These are called pay-per-click (PPC) ads. While SEO prioritizes long-term progress, the results of SEM are nearly instant. As soon as your digital marketing company sets up PPC ads for your site, they'll be visible to searchers within 24 hours, and you can expect to start getting more clicks.

An effective digital marketing strategy should incorporate both SEO and SEM. If you're looking for a professional team to help you with both of these things, contact Tagline Media Group LLC today. Our digital marketing company can help your business reach a wider demographic for greater success. We look forward to working with you!

Still have questions or specific needs? we're ready to assist! Reach out to us for personalized advice and solutions tailored to your business.
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About Emily Filener

Hi, my name is Emily. I am the Creative Director and Account Manager at Tagline. My background is in graphic design and digital marketing. I was born and raised in Tucson and went to the University of Arizona for graphic design and communications.

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