SEO and SEM terminology explained

The SEO process increases organic search rankings and SEM optimises the bid process for Cost per Click (CPC).

What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimisation is the marketing process using website analytics to gain more visibility and increased traffic from the free, organic listing of a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

The major search engines include Google, Bing, Yahoo and Baidu. These search engines list websites in their results pages based on their own algorithms, which in turn determine the order that they are listed.

The algorithms utilise many different variables like popularity, content quality, domain trust, external links, page optimisation and keywords to ascertain the order in which the websites are listed in the SERP. These factors can be adjusted and optimised by website owners and in doing so they can increase their ranking.

The importance of this cannot be understated as websites on the first SERP receive around 90% of the web traffic.

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search Engine Marketing is the marketing process of gaining more visibility in search engines by purchasing advertising in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

The most popular search engine by far is Google with around 90% of the market. Their advertising offering is Google Adwords. By purchasing ads on Adwords, a website owner can guarantee that their ad will be seen on the first SERP, even if normally they rank much lower.

Additionally, the website owner is only charged if a user clicks on their ad. This practice is known as Pay Per Click (PPC). The process creates a bidding structure amongst website owners competing for the best position on the SERP.

Website owners can bid on Keywords within the ad, depending on the nature of their service, or product. Popular keywords command the highest Cost Per Click (CPC) and this drives the price upwards until a balance between supply and demand is reached.

The significance of uncovering the right keywords for ads will determine the traffic quantity and quality, hence the strategic reason for Keyword research.

Components of SEO

Use keyword search to uncover traffic estimates, organic keywords and phrase matches.


Diagnose and fix on-site features, poor content and broken links.


Discover your competitor’s strategies, pricing and ads.


Drive more leads to your website and uncover new opportunities.