SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is, to put it simply, the act of making a website the best that it can be in the eyes of Google. This is done in a number of ways, but the end result is that the website comes up higher in the organic search results when certain keywords that correspond to the website are searched in Google. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is a combination of both SEO and PPC (Pay Per Click). In PPC, a website will pay Google to put their website in the paid area of the search results.

SEO is performed in four key ways:

  • On Page SEO
    This strategy is based around keywords. These keywords are words or phrases that correspond to a website. When someone searches these keywords on page SEO’s goal is to have your website come up first in the organic search results. This is done by embedding the keywords within your websites URL, title tag, and meta description.
  • Off Page SEO
    Off Page SEO is about other websites and is mostly done by building backlinks that signal to Google your website is trustworthy. Google can also learn that your website is trustworthy through social media sharing and E-A-T.
  • Technical SEO
    This facet of SEO includes making sure that Google can properly access and index your website and things like making your website load faster.
  • User Interaction Signals
    Finally, we have User Interaction Signals. If many of the people who click on your website leave before interacting with it at all, that tells Google that your website might not fit the keywords that the users searched. This would make your page drop in the rankings for those keywords.

Finally, the main difference between SEO and SEM is speed. Whereas PPC can get you results instantly, SEO is much more of an investment. It can take months or even years of determined SEO for your website to rank first for its keywords. SEO will permanently make your pages consistently do well, but once you stop paying for PPC, your page will instantly drop off.