Apparently, newcomers to internet marketing are not alone in their confusion about the differences between Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing. The differences become even harder to determine when otherwise knowledgeable persons in the market use them as if they meant the same thing. They do not, as you will see from the explanations of the terms that follows.
Search Engine Optimization Explained
Search engine optimization is a natural and less expensive means of achieving search engine traffic and visitors. It consists of ensuring that keywords are of the proper density (frequency on a page) that the title and page Meta tags are also optimized for each page so they reflect not only the site's content but also the desired keywords. However, SEO or Search Engine Optimization is not concerned with tags and titles but also with incoming links. Ensuring quality inbound links increases page popularity and helps gain traffic to the site.
Search engine optimization applies the maxim of "if you build it well, they will come" and works to ensure that a visitor and the search engines will find a quality site with relevant material when they arrive. This is not a technique that shows instant results; instead, SEO is a long-term plan with the results being quality traffic from the search engines with no additional costs.
Search Engine Marketing Explained
Search engine marketing also called SEM is more about an advertising campaign, which incurs regular expenses. Search engine marketing is about paid ads that are displayed in search results and which provide visitors to a website.
This is a complex subject because it is not as simple as composing an ad and paying for each visitor who clicks on that ad; instead, you pay per person to click through depending on the spot your ad is displayed. If too many visitors click your advertisement in the search listings but do not buy, then you face the dilemma of no profit for your advertising spent. In general, search engine marketing is a great way to provide instant traffic to a website. On the other hand, it is not the type of marketing that is forgiving of mistakes by a novice, and professional SEO and SEM firms usually are the best way to take advantage of Search Engine Marketing.
A firm which can advise on which ad spot to bid on, what ads work best and how to maximize your marketing dollar can pay for the expense very quickly in search engine marketing campaigns. A firm that advises on ways to avoid click through fraud (competing sites clicking ads to cost you money) and the exact position on which to spend your marketing dollar can save money in the long term.
A firm that says that using SEO methods they can guarantee your site the number one spot in the search engines for a particular keyword, also should viewed with some suspicion. No one can absolutely guarantee anything as regards a search engine and a site's placement. Black hat search engine tricks (underhanded methods of cheating the search engine) are short-term tricks if they work at all, and will usually end with your site being banned from the search engines.
Combining Search Engine Optimization with Search Engine Marketing can Work
What most often works the best is an approach that combines both techniques, search engine optimization for long-term results and search engine marketing for instant traffic results.