We are all familiar with how to find information on the Internet.  We type a word or phrase into the search bar on our browser and then hit Enter.  The results of that search come up.  The user clicks on the listing that most closely matches the information they are looking for. 

The Marketing Word Engine

The engines that drive the Internet are constantly looking for the words that users are typing into a search.  Because the Internet is digital, every search and click is registered in that engine.  The search engines remember the most popular terms used in searches and they make that information available to everyone.  Marketers who are experts on Internet marketing use this service and know which words and phrases attract searches.  They then integrate these terms into their content.

This process, in a nutshell, is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).  I will be covering both SEO and SEM in this series. 

So, what is the difference between SEO and SEM?  They both operate in the same way, in that they are driven by words. 

The difference is that SEO is free, and SEM is paid. 

What is SEO

When a user enters a word or phrase into the search bar, the search engine scans the Internet looking for that phrase.  It then gathers pages and pages of possible articles  that could answer the question the user is looking for.  They are called organic search results. 

What is SEM

The results on the top of the page pay to be there.  It is usually the top four to six terms.  Everything underneath that is the Organic (or free) results. 

The search engines scan the Internet, find content that matches that search, and then list it.  The search engine picks out the content where companies have paid for it to be discovered and places it on top.  The content that does not pay to be discovered is still listed, but underneath the paid content. 

A good marketing campaign uses both SEO and SEM to attract search engines and an audience. 

In the next article in this series, we will discuss how a company finds the words and phrases that the search engines are looking for.    

Perry Goldstein
Perry Goldstein

Perry Goldstein is an electronics industry veteran, with over 40 years of experience in manufacturer sales and marketing in both the consumer electronics and Pro A/V spaces. He has managed sales in both B2B and B2C markets.