What does SEM stand for in Marketing?

SEM, Search Engine Marketing

If you are thinking about doing online marketing for your business, you will surely come across a series of terms, some synonymous, others with completely different meanings.

You would probably have heard of SEO, SEM, Pay per Click, Search Engine Advertising and many others. Understanding the differences between these acronyms and terms can help you make better and more informed choices to achieve your marketing goals.

Are SEO and SEM the same thing?

Let’s start with understanding what SEO is. The acronym SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and consists of a set of techniques and strategies to optimize a website, a web page, or online content which makes it easily indexable by search engines. It also helps to rank the site among the first organic results. Obviously, the goal of positioning a website among the first results of Google, Bing, Yahoo or Yandex search engines is to increase online visibility and increase the traffic of potential customers.

What does SEM stand for?

SEM means Search Engine Marketing. According to the most common definition, SEM is the paid placement of a website in the spaces reserved for sponsored ads on search engines or on other platforms.

There are in fact different schools of thought regarding the activities that Search Engine Marketing should include.

Digital Marketing

According to one of the most common trends, SEM is a synonym for Pay for Click Advertising. As already mentioned, it is to invest in positioning of sponsored and paid results within search engines.


The difference between SEO and SEM would, therefore, be that Search Engine Optimization allows you to position a website in the organic results of a search engine for certain keywords. On the other hand, SEM is within sponsored results, paying for clicks or for views.

Other schools of thought that see SEM as a macro-discipline which includes the set of all the activities that revolve around the search engines and, therefore, consists of SEO within it.

Should you invest more in SEO or SEM?

The answer is, it depends. It depends on the company’s budget and on the timeline in which you want to have a return on investment. Both, if managed appropriately and by experienced people can make the difference to the success of your business. The ideal situation would be to invest in both strategies to achieve all marketing objectives, from brand awareness to customer acquisition.

If you want to know what the most effective action strategy for your company is, contact us.

1 reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Another method that should not be an alternative but a complementary technique is paid advertising also called PPC (Pay Per Click). […]

Comments are closed.