SEO Consultant vs. SEM Specialist: What’s The Difference And Can They Work Together?


Learn the difference between an SEO Consultant and SEM Specialist and how they both help you in your online marketing strategy.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are terms often used interchangeably by many websites or business owners. Both are a part of the online marketing process and understanding their importance in the marketing arena would help you create strategies to achieve your business goals. 

As a digital marketing agency, we’re going to break down the differences between SEO consulting and SEM specialization. We’ll explore how SEO consultants and SEM specialists can both help your business, as well as when you might need these types of SEO services. Let’s get started.  

What Is The Main Difference?

We all want to rank higher on Google. There’s no question about that. In fact, one of the primary ways that we can get ourselves noticed by search engines is by doing things such as optimizing our web pages and content so that they are relevant to keywords and phrases that our audience is looking for. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results.

While SEO considers factors that are out of a website owner’s control such as backlinks and other site characteristics, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) concentrates on the influence that advertising and marketing can have on driving visitors to a site. It executes paid methods to show up on search results. Before, SEM was an umbrella term that enveloped general search engine marketing, which included SEO and Pay-Per-Click (PPC). But eventually, SEM has been considered to be the paid aspect of digital marketing activities.


What is an SEO Consultant?

An SEO Consultant deals with the following major responsibilities but is not limited to

  • Planning, developing and implementing SEO strategy
  • Optimizing content and landing pages for search engines
  • Regularly performing thorough keywords research
  • Investigating and analyzing competitor advertising links
  • Improving and implementing link building strategy
  • Staying up to date with the latest SEO and digital marketing latest trends and best practices

What is an SEM Specialist?

An SEM Specialist is mainly responsible for:

  • Managing Targeted (paid) ad campaigns to increase ROI
  • Writing copies using very selective keywords
  • Calculating monthly costs and ensuring that advertising campaigns won’t exceed the budget
  • Monitoring key performance indicators like click-through-rates (CTR) and cost-per-click (CPC) towards future advertising activities


Which one is Better?

Let’s take a further understanding of SEO or SEM – which works for your business better. 

Factors SEO SEM
Business goals Steer long-term growth Enhance your website Build trust, credibility and awareness Test new product or service Boost sales in a month with instant and measurable success
Digital Marketing Strategies Implemented Brand is established with a strong organic digital presence  Less online visibility on search results pages (SERP)
Buying Process slow buying decision Research, read blogs, read reviews, compare brands may be necessary fast buying decision High search and buying intent  
Competitors Wide opportunities for organic content keywords are selective in your industry 
Website status SEO optimised website positive organic search performance High-quality content targeting relevant keywords Poor website speed Lack of content Needs a lot of SEO workaround  


How Do They Complement To Work For Your Business?

Digital Marketing Strategy should not only be limited to one. Since each strategy has its own strengths and weaknesses, combining SEO and SEM will generally result in optimal performance on your website, which impacts largely on your business.

These two powerful marketing channels are often available for collaboration in agencies that employ both SEO Consultants and SEM Specialists, though sometimes their responsibilities can be done by one expert.  


If you like this article, you may want to read this article about 6 Essential SEO Skills Every SEO Consultant Must Have To Thrive.

Want to get more online visibility, traffic and leads for your business? Get the top SEO consultant in the online marketing industry!

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