SEO vs SEM vs PPC – What’s the difference?

Building a website is easy, getting it to your target market isn’t and this is where SEO, SEM and PPC come in. All three are essential marketing strategies with the power to skyrocket your website traffic yet each offers something different.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is part of the foundation of your website, featuring a wide range of free strategies you can action yourself daily, to get your website to your target market. On top of that, where budget allows, you will also want to pay to use Pay Per Click Ads (PPC), on the cycle of your choice, to boost your website traffic in specific ways.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an umbrella term for the strategic ways you use search engines to reach your target market. SEM techniques includes both SEO and PPC.

Here’s all you need to know about how SEO, SEM and PPC differ and what each can do to help your online business grow.

SEO vs SEM vs PPC – What’s the difference?

For your business to survive, your website needs to be found by your target market 24/7 so you’ll need to create a search engine marketing strategy from day one. If you have a good web developer building your site, they’ll talk to you about SEO.


What is it? Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a way of fine-tuning your website so it acts like a magnet to your target audience through a rich range of techniques.

Inside your website, in the CMS, off page SEO techniques ensure your website performs in the ways search engines favour whilst also doing all they can to push your website to the top of search page listings, known as (SERP). These approaches are wide-ranging, covering everything from fast page speeds to compact image sizes.

For the content which sits on your website, fine-tuning, or what we call optimisation, must also be done. From the copy which goes on your web page to your blog posts and product descriptions, everything must be tweaked to ensure it is delivered to both satisfy the requirements of search engines and find its way to the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).

Why and when do I need it? You need top, proven SEO techniques to be implemented daily. This is how your website gets found so competition is high, requirements from search engines change often and search engines work constantly to keep checking for the best website to show for every query.

SEO requires knowledge, persistence and consistent use, so do join one of our SEO courses to ensure you have the strategies and understanding to make best use of this great, free marketing technique.


What is it? Pay Per Click Ads (PPC) are paid ads you can use at the frequency of your choice to put your website in front of your target market. For Google PPC, your adverts will appear at the bottom or top of search listings (SERP). You will pay an agreed amount every time your advert is clicked.

Google is a well-known provider of PPC services but there are lots of other companies which offer pay per click ads, such as Facebook.

Why and when do I need it? When and how you use PPC depends on both budget and purpose. You may want to use pay per click advertising as an ongoing strategy, periodically or when you have specific promotions or growth needs to target.


What is it? Understandably, SEO and PPC are huge marketing techniques so they have become entities in their own right. However, both SEO and PPC were birthed from Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and there are other types of paid advertising and marketing strategies which together, all fall under the category of SEM.

Why and when do I need it? You’ll need to create, implement and review your SEM strategy as an ongoing task to ensure your website reaches your target market.

Learn the crucial SEO, SEM, and PPC techniques you need to grow your business and take our online SEM Masterclass. CLICK HERE