Digital Marketing

SEO Vs. SEM Vs. PPC Advertising: What Is The Difference?

Lokesh Saini
By Lokesh Saini
Feb 08, 2021
Digital Marketing 1902

Imagine this as a clickbait title like ‘get rich in 3 easy steps’ to bring you to a certain website section. There may be three outcomes to the same since you have wished to click. Either the content is boring and irrelevant, or you love to read it over & again, or buy if that is the primary objective. It is how things used to be a couple of years earlier, but not anymore. Irrespective of any or all types of black-hat SEO, SEM, or pay per click advertising strategies, search engines and users have become smart enough to escape being regular fools.


Before you get confused between these crucial digital marketing strategies, let us address your doubts once and for all with this post:


What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an umbrella term consisting of all the activities that will enable your website with a trustworthy jetpack to soar the heights of search engine result pages (SERPs) without ever paying a single penny or running out of fuel.


That’s correct; you will never have to pay a search engine to stay on the top for your keywords, which happens to be the best benefit amongst all the advantages of SEO. Although, you might be required to keep your Digital Marketing Agency happy to stay that way.


What are the types of SEO?

SEO gets categorized into three types of strategies, i.e., On-Page SEO, Technical SEO, and Off-Page SEO.

  • On-Page SEO accounts for links, the responsiveness of a website, error-free operations, speed, SEO-optimized content, title & meta descriptions, etc., of the website.
  • Technical SEO includes website speed, responsiveness, crawlability, security, structured data, site architecture, and indexing.
  • Off-page SEO constitutes link building, forum posting, guest posting, business listings, among others.


Learn More: Advanced SEO Techniques to Get More Traffic in 2021


What is PPC (Pay Per Click)?


PPC or Pay Per Click Advertising is the alternative to what you call ‘making life easier for everyone,’ users don’t have to scroll much, publishers don’t have to wait, and search engines don’t have to miss out on direct revenues.

Let us understand it in this way.

Imagine that you have bought the best-backlit billboard all across the town after emptying your pockets during the auction, so now, you have ten days to market yourself in such a manner that people cannot help but notice you with awe. It will eventually get you more eyeballs, and hopefully business too, but at what cost?


Consider PPC services as the online & cheaper alternative to this. Search engines have a limited advertisement inventory to offer you for a particular set of keywords; now, you get called upon to place your bids to rank above the organic results and your advert competitors. If your campaign receives the nod and people shower you with love (clicks), then you pay. Otherwise, you get free publicity.


What is SEM (Search Engine Marketing) in Digital Marketing?


Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the superset of both, which as per various experts, sometimes include Social Media Marketing (SMM) too as an off-page SEO activity.


Take SEM as an election wherein everybody’s competing. Some with money, some with sheer talent, some with both, and some without ever knowing that they are competing.


The winner gets decided by online eyeballs as the legitimate vote of the users.




Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an organic subset of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), nothing more, nothing less.


Although the terms have been used interchangeably for the longest period enthusiasts remember, the latter is likely to get bludgeoned with that for some time more unless people become finally aware of the fact that a salt lake serves two purposes instead of just one.




If SEO is the salt element of the lake called SEM, then PPC is the water. If you mix them in appropriate amounts, add some soda (offline marketing) & lemon (word of mouth), then you get your lip-smacking Shikanji (a drink popular in India) that users will devour at any point in time.




The war, organic search v/s paid search, may never end, but here come our two cents regarding how it is unfolding to help you decide regarding placing your bets.

  • PPC brings instantaneous results, while SEO is a tortoise in a marathon.
  • PPC works like a corporate goon that swallows money without even a burp and may not be beneficial for long term gains, whereas SEO is like a fresh-outta engineering grad, not easy to tackle at first, but yields immense value proposition to the organization in case of a sizable stay.


Parting Thoughts


There are multiple ways for a layperson to look at these exciting technologies with reverence; we felt that you might be interested in knowing our take. It may mark the end of this post, but you can always read more of our posts or let us know where we lack by giving us a line.


On the off chances that this post has got you all worked up and ready to score some brownie points on the online world, then let us know, as we will always be happy to render PPC, SEM, and global or local SEO services to your zest.


We don’t like to brag but being the best SEO company in India comes with a myriad of responsibilities towards our clients or the general public. We prefer to take these challenges head-on and bring you delectable results that no-one will ever forget.

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