With so many digital buyer’s journeys now starting with a search query, getting found by the right people, in the right place, at the right time, and for the right reason is more important than ever. To be effective in highly competitive marketplaces, your company must get good at search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), and digital marketing. 

Let's compare SEO vs. digital marketing vs. SEM.

Is SEO Part of Digital Marketing?


Yes, search engine optimization is an essential part of playing the long game in digital marketing. 

SEO helps companies get found the right people, in the right places, at the right time, and most of all: in the right context. 

However, content is also an extremely important facet at the intersection of SEO and digital marketing. 

In today's marketplace, it's nearly impossible to win at SEO and digital marketing unless you have a strong commitment to creating and distributing helpful, educational content.

What’s the Difference Between SEO and SEM In Digital Marketing?

In digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) refers to efforts to get your website content discovered through means of organic search engine traffic -- sometimes referred to as free traffic. 

SEO can be further divided into on-page factors, generally the content on the website pages, and off-page factors, typically the quality, quantity, and relevance of inbound links.

So given all of this, how does SEM, the first cousin of SEO, compare to digital marketing?

SEM refers to running paid ads on Google Ads and Bing Ads for the purpose of having ads shown for keyword phrases that you want your website discovered for. While SEO can take anywhere from weeks to months to begin to show results, SEM can often start showing results within hours of ads going live.

SEM can also be deployed with much greater precision than SEO -- both in terms of geographic targeting and the destination website page URL.


How is your company approaching its SEO, SEM, and digital marketing strategy? How do you compare these three interrelated disciplines? Let me know in the comments.

And do you need your SEO, digital marketing, and SEM to help you grow your business? If so, enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups.

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