Search Engine Marketing (SEM) meaning in English

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is marketing designed to promote websites in search engines.

Although both Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-per-click (PPC) are technically speaking types of Search Engine Marketing, SEM is more frequently used as a reference to exclusively paid marketing.

Traditional definition

SEM (traditional definition)
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Modern definition

SEM (modern definition)
Diagram by Search Candy

What is the difference between SEM and SEO?

Search Engine marketing is a broader area of digital marketing, whereas SEO is a specific channel.

Whereas SEO refers to organic/unpaid traffic from search engines, SEM includes both organic SEO and paid/performance marketing ie PPC.

Using a definition that only sees SEM as paid marketing, there is a more direct split between SEO and SEM - where SEM refers to paid marketing vs SEO refers to unpaid/organic.

Search Engine Marketing Platforms

In the UK and US the main Search Engine Marketing platforms include Google Ads, Microsoft Ads (Bing) and Facebook Ads.


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