We get asked a lot of questions by our customers everyday. Here are some of the questions they always ask:

What exactly is SEO? How does it work? How to rank my website on the first page on Google? And most of the times, people are confused about the terms SEM and SEO. Nowadays, we come across tons of acronyms every single day and it may seem overwhelming at first. You are not alone if you cannot keep them straight. But fret not! In this article, we are going to give you a brief explanation to help you gain a better understanding on SEM, SEO and PPC. (Note: We will focus on Google only)

Let’s get started with the picture below which shows the overview of Digital Marketing.

What is SEM?

As you can see from the picture above, SEM, also known as Search Engine Marketing, is in fact a fundamental part of digital marketing. In layman’s term, SEM is the process of improving your website’s Google search ranking, which is useful to reach potential customers at the perfect time and place.

Some of the most commonly used tools to increase your website’s ranking include SEO and PPC. Therefore, SEM is not the same as SEO. It is not SEM vs SEO either. If you apply both of these tools then you are already doing SEM. Sounds pretty easy, right? 😉 

What is SEO?

SEO, on the other hand, stands for Search Engine Optimization. Simply put, SEO is to improve your website’s title, description, content, speed loading, image and so on to attract people’s attention so that they will visit your website themselves (Free Traffic) and stay on your website longer! 

Google uses an algorithm to determine which websites deserve to rank higher in a Google search. You should invest in SEO because an optimized website can easily be understood by Google Bot and therefore increases the chance of a higher Google search ranking.

The 3 main pillars of SEO are:

  1. Technical SEO
  2. On-site SEO
  3. Off-site SEO

(We will dive into more details about this in our upcoming articles!)

What is PPC?

Whereas for PPC, Pay Per Click, often refers to Google Search Advertising. Essentially, you pay a fee each time one of your ads is clicked.

As demonstrated in the picture above, there are generally two ways to improve your website’s ranking on Google. 

  1. First is to do SEO and gain free traffic, but it is a process that does not happen overnight. It might take a very long time to reach the first page of Google search results.
  2. Second is to spend money on advertising with Google to gain paid traffic and you will be able to go to the very top of the Google search results immediately!

Extra – Does Advertising help on SEO?

The answer is “No”.

Advertising does not help SEO. If you use paid ads to target specific keywords and get search engine traffic, that does not positively or negatively affect your SEO efforts.


There are many situations where PPC makes more sense than SEO. For example, if you are first launching a site and you want immediate search visibility, it is a good idea to create a PPC campaign because it takes less time than SEO, but it would be unwise to strictly work with PPC and do not even touch SEO.

Although organic SEO takes longer to show results, in the end it will be less costly and you will establish a search credibility that you might not establish with PPC.

We hope you learned a lot today. Got any questions? Want to know more about how these things can be beneficial to your business? We are always here for you! Or you may find out what services we provide in About Us page. You can also check out our past projects. Till next time!