SEO vs. SEM which one is better?

SEO vs. SEM which one is better?

SEO vs. SEM which one is better? 1080 1080 Conversion Marketing

Before we break down SEO vs.SEM let’s define the terms.

What is SEO and SEM?

  • SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, attracts organic (FREE), traffic to your website. We do this by targeting specific keywords that customers may use to search for your products or services and show up on search engine results pages (SERP).
  • SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, refers to paying or bidding on specific keywords and phrases that are applied to paid ads, driving customers to your products or services, and showing up on search engine results pages (SERP).

Many business owners have heard digital marketers say, “With SEO and SEM, we can get you on the first page of Google, guaranteed!” Guaranteed is a big statement when dealing with the almighty Google Gods. One can argue though, that you can improve your rank and page placement purely through SEM (PPC).

Implementing SEO and SEM online marketing is a process that moves you up page by page, with the intention of being on the first page in the top ten slots, over time. The goal is to be on page one for your brands’ specific terms. That said, SEO and SEM work separately in their own unique way.

SEO vs SEM for businesses

SEO is a perfect tool for a business with a limited digital marketing budget and time to see results. Here we spill the tea on how long it takes to see changes with SEO. Six months, yes that’s right it takes a minimum of six months to pick up on key performance indicators (KPIs) and to measure the effectiveness of your keyword implementation when using SEO alone. We all want instant gratification but with SEO patience is the key. According to Google, “SEO is an important tool for successful online marketing because it gives your business the best chance of being found, even if the optimization process takes a while to get right.”

SEM is an excellent fit for a business that desires quick results in boosting the visibility of its brand/products and services. “SEM, or search engine marketing, is using paid advertising to ensure that your business’s products or services are visible in search engine results pages (SERPs). When a user types in a certain keyword, SEM enables your business to appear as a result of that search query.” The key to SEM marketing is this, the larger the spend on keywords that relate to your business the faster the results.

Keywords and Phrases

A quick look at the process of finding your keywords and phrases. The first steps are to run a keyword analysis. Once the list of keywords relevant to your business is determined, they are intentionally used throughout your website text and in paid ads. Once these keywords are in place on relevant pages on your site, they are tracked over time to see if they are picked up by Google’s regular crawls of your site. Google’s bots (or spiders as they can be known) regularly crawl and index all websites and help Google determine the value of your site’s content to a web user’s search request.


Now you may be wondering, “SEO vs.SEM? Which one is better?” The understanding is that it’s not SEO vs. SEM but SEO AND SEM, they complement each other. With a well-planned strategy, leveraging them both will provide a higher quality of traffic to your website. In a webinar presented by Search Engine Journal (SEJ) they highlight the following best practice and 5 Ways To Combine SEO & SEM For More Effective Marketing Return on Investment (ROI)

  1. Allocate paid spend using organic performance insights
  2. Inform content strategy with SEM performance insights
  3. Build competitive research utilizing paid & organic Insights
  4. Incorporate SEO best practices when creating Paid campaigns
  5. Enable cross-team communication & collaboration (SEO & SEM team members)

Do SEO and SEM services work?

And finally “do SEO and SEM services work?” YES! They work when monitored regularly, when keyword-sprinkled content is relevant, and when keywords are optimized for Google Ads with a sound strategy. The goal of combining SEO and SEM is to land on the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) because we all know that if you can’t be seen on Google “you don’t exist”.

So to recap, SEO has no media cost, SEM is paid and targeted, and each can be implemented alone or together. Ultimately it’s your choice and it’s exciting to know you have the luxury of choosing a format that best suits your business goals and budget. Contact our team of experts and let us help you plan your SEO and SEM strategy.