Its all about having a stronger onpage optimization done than backlinks. So wont backlinking be part of 2018(relevant, niche ones') and also content marketing can be a big plus too. Content getting pocked up by high authority sites is a big Yes and needed as Google appreciates it. Nice details if someone is starting up with SEO in 2018 with new website, so its easy for them to do RIGHT from Day 1.
After trying a lot (10+ years of experience) SE ranking stands out on top of others because it combines everything we need for our clients. We do only provide the client with rankings, but also with the potential traffic (and revenue) of those ranking when they hit top 3 in Google. The tool let us provide the client with in depth analysis of the technical stuff ánd a marketing plan tool, so we can set goals and follow a checklist of monthly activities. And to top it all off it’s fully whitelabel.
The key distinction is that SEM is a broader strategy which combines paid search and SEO tactics. So, if you set up a PPC advertisement, but don't take steps to optimize the ad or the website it links to, this is a standard example of paid search. However, if you optimize your site and your search content with solid keywords, then you put money behind it to boost it on targeted audience's search pages, then you're dabbling in SEM.