Understanding the Differences Between SEO and SEM

By   |  March 31, 2014

If you're looking to market your medical practice, you've likely come across two of the most common terms today SEO and SEM. Both exist with the purpose of getting your website seen and attracting new patients, but it can be hard for many to understand the fundamental differences between these two methods. Understanding these differences can help you market your practice more effectively, so keep reading to learn more.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization, known colloquially as SEO, is the process of improving a website's organic, or natural, ranking in search engine results. Essentially, the idea is to use certain tactics and strategies to help your site appear in search engines like Google, Bing, and more. The ultimate goal of SEO is to rank more highly in these search results, so that patients can find you without clicking through pages and pages of results. When your site ranks higher, it's typically associated with an increase in traffic to your page.

There are a number of different practices used to help a site appear more prominently in these search results. They can include things like the inclusion of high-quality content on your site, use of targeted keywords, link building, and more.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

While SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, can be used as an all-encompassing term used to describe internet marketing, it typically refers to paid advertising methods, like pay-per-click. These are the results that appear at the top of the page when you do a search, and they're marked in such a way that viewers know they are ads. Compared to SEO, which can take months for the results to be seen, SEM can increase your visibility much more quickly but at a price. Companies or medical practices bid on search terms, and pay each time someone clicks on their ad. This can be an effective way for a practice to market themselves, and the prominent ad placement can drive a great deal of traffic to a website.

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