Some professionals are vague and misleading about marketing vs advertising terminology and techniques. You’ll hear terms like digital marketing, Internet marketing, SEM (Search Engine Marketing), local search, and more.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing is typically considered natural or organic. Whereas paid ads, banners, or boosts is advertising.
SEO = Marketing on the Internet
SEO, Search Engine Optimization will fine tune your website and improve it’s visibility on the Internet for a wide range of search terms – i.e. when someone goes to google and searches for something they are typing in a search term or keyword/phrase.
SEM = Advertising on the Internet
The industry terminology gets a bit confusing when talking about advertising on the Internet. Search Engine Marketing, aka SEM, is actually paid advertising on the Internet. Advertising essentially means that you are paying a website or search engine for a ad or banner space.
Internet ads can be seen on search engines, websites, and social media. Google recently changed it’s advertising platform from Google AdWords to Google Ads (this finally seems to make more sense).
If you can’t wait and want immediate visibility for a keyword phrase or a new geographic location, then SEM advertising is what you’re looking for.
We are primarily a SEO company, but have had success with a 3rd Party internet advertising company. And we have found that a paid advertising campaign can jump start an organic marketing campaign. Many business owners are happy to pay for advertising for a limited period of time if they know it will help them reach a new target audience or a new geographic region.
Update November 2019: Search Engine Journal just published a much more extensive post on this topic. I can be a bit confusing but adequately shows how confusing the industry terminology is. A great read … “SEM vs. SEO vs. PPC Defined: What’s the Difference?“