[dropcap]M[/dropcap]any of our clients seem to get confused when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). So I thought it best to write this post to explain some of the differences and benefits of both.

Search Engine Optimisation – SEO

SEO can be broken down into two categories, onsite SEO and offsite SEO. Onsite SEO is basically all of the elements that you have control over on your website. Things like Meta tags; Titles; Descriptions and Keywords fall into this category. Also well written website copy that is keyword rich and semantically structured content are key elements of this category. Onsite SEO is the organic search engine optimisation that you or your web designer has direct control over.

Offsite SEO, as the term suggests, is optimisation that is performed away from your website. Things like writing articles or guest posts on other websites; commenting on relevant blogs; social media profiles and social interaction; special mentions; directory listings and any other form of backlink that gets generated to your website.

The benefits of organic SEO are that your search engine results are more permanent and reliable. Also your website would have built up a lot of credibility which is invaluable. Another thing to mention is that this method is all free and requires no budget if handled by yourself.

The only downfall is that organic search engine optimisation takes a long time and a lot of dedication to build.

Search Engine Marketing – SEM

SEM is often seen as a more quick-fix solution to SEO. However I think that this is a misconception. I personally think that SEM should be used as a complimentary service to organic SEO. While you are building your SEO rankings you can use SEM to bring targeted traffic to your website and increase your sales. SEM is basically paying for advertising on search engines like Google and getting sponsored listings. So instead of waiting years for your website to appear on page 1 of a search engine, you can achieve this with a paid advert.

Another misconception is that SEM costs a lot of money and is only available to big businesses. This could not be further from the truth. It is a really affordable and measurable service that can add real value to your business. [blockquote align=”right”]The benefits of SEM are that you get immediate, targeted traffic to your website.[/blockquote]
The way is basically works is that you setup an account with the search engines like Google, you set a daily budget for the amount to spend on advertising per day and select specific keywords you would like to target. Google will then serve up your advert and get you as many clicks as your budget for that day will allow. Once your daily allocation is up your ad will disappear for the day and resume the next day, until that day’s budget is used up and so it goes on.

The benefits of SEM are that you get immediate, targeted traffic to your website. If your conversion of these visitors is good it could mean a lot more added to your bottom line at the end of the month. Making more money is ultimately what businesses want and this method has proven to be incredibly successful, especially when compared to traditional advertising.

The only downfall to SEM is that is does cost money. If you are a tiny business with no capital and no advertising budget then you may be put off by this, however you can start small and the results are immediate.

What has your experience with SEO and SEM taught you?

Freedom Studios is excited to announce that we have been selected to be a Google Engage Partner. What this means is that we will be able to offer our clients professional advice, consulting, training and campaign management for the Google SEM platform. This includes sponsored adverts for the web as well as mobile devices. We will soon be launching our SEM service offering and be giving away a whole bunch of free Google AdWords Vouchers. We’re pretty excited.


  1. werner from on August 15, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Great information! My findings are that most people in sa still dont know the difference and it will take some time for this to change.

    • Graham on August 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

      Hey Werner,

      I agree, I guess it is our duty to educate them.
      Thanks for the comment 🙂

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