SEO vs. SEM – how to bring the best results?


The world of digital marketing has been constantly on the expansion and the change in the Google algorithm has been constantly urging the demand for new approaches to reach the top rank of the search engine result pages. Generating organic traffic through the approaches of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has been of prime importance irrespective of the business sector and the industry.


How is SEO different from SEM?

It is common for many who are not integrally linked to digital marketing to think that both the approaches are the same. Well, there might be some similarities but there are a few major differences that exist between the two. The SEO approach is totally an organic process that makes use of keywords to increase brand awareness among the users. The SEM, on the other hand, is a process of using paid advertising networks to display ads on the leading search engines to reach out to an even increased count of users spread across the globe. SEM requires running, managing and maintaining the ad campaigns with a close understanding of the target group of audience depending on the age, location, language, and other demographic features. While SEO is the best approach to increase and establish brand awareness with long term objectives, SEM helps to boost the SEO results over the short term and increase the conversion rates dramatically.

The pros and cons of both the approaches

Let us now take a look at the pros and cons of SEO and SEM. Since both the approaches are similar to some extents, they also have a few common pros and cons.

The common pros and cons

The common pros include:

  • Both SEO and SEM helps to promote brand awareness of the business
  • Users that are redirected through the search channels generally have a higher conversion tendency

The common cons include:

  • Both the approaches demands you to have the technical expertise
  • The strategies are expensive to maintain for the long run

SEO pros and cons

The explicit benefits of using SEO approaches include:

  • This approach is more bent towards deriving long-term benefits
  • SEO helps to bring in an increased traffic share as compared to the SEM approaches

The cons of SEO include:

  • The results may be a bit time consuming
  • Tracking all the search terms to direct the users to the landing page of the users is tough in comparison to the SEM methods

SEM pros and cons

The pros of using SEM include:

  • The results are very efficient
  • The approach provides with options of precise targeting
  • The search terms that help to direct the users to the user can be tracked to a greater extent

The cons of SEM include:

  • The results would start to degrade as soon as the ad budget gets exhausted

But none can provide results exclusive to each other. The best profits are drawn when both the methods are used in alignment with each other.

SEO or SEM – Choosing the right approach

The right choice obviously depends on the objectives that you want to adopt the strategies for. Some of the factors include:

  • The lifecycle of the customer: If you are planning to opt for immediate response especially from the marketing campaign run for a promotional product. SEM is ideal for products having a short purchase cycle.
  • Maximizing traffic generation: If you want to go slow and steady and want to reap the long term benefits and establish your presence more widely, SEO is the ideal choice. Supplementing it with SEM can further promote the results.
  • Budget and return on investment: The costs per click can be quite high depending on the competition. If the click costs exceed the profit margin, then SEM is not an ideal choice.
  • Market testing: SEM helps to gain quick visibility of the product and test out the keywords that have better conversion rates. Once the study has been made, you can then opt to run SEO campaigns with a focus on those particular keywords to get effective results at cheap rates.

Whether you choose SEO or SEM campaign, you must conduct extensive market research to derive the best results. Make sure you learn more about both the approaches before running the campaigns.

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