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Difference Between SEM and SEO

January 20, 2010
Hi Jill,

I was wondering what the differences are between SEM and SEO.



++Jill's Response++

Hi Steven,

SEM stands for "search engine marketing" and SEO stands for "search engine optimization."

SEM is the all-encompassing broad phrase that includes SEO as well as paid search activities such as Google AdWords purchases.

SEO, on the other hand, is simply a subset of SEM.

Some people mistakenly think that SEM = PPC while SEO = organic. SEO does equal organic, but as you can see by the definition above, SEM does not equal JUST paid search.


Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, a Boston SEO Consulting Agency.

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