How is SEM different from SEO? Which gives better results, and why?

SEO versus SEM, hand insert the letters on the advertising lightbox, concept for SEO and SEM or Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Matketing

Digital marketing is a highly robust tool that is helpful for all types of businesses. With the advancements in smartphones and the easy availability of the internet, people make use of search engines to learn new information. Businesses have understood that search engines are the key contributors for attracting massive traffic to their online listings and convert them into leads. But search engine marketing can be a difficult strategy to manage if you don’t know what is the difference between SEM vs. SEO. 


Search engine optimization (SEO) is a technique to improve website traffic to have natural traffic via search engine result pages. SEO will not make use of any paid advertisements on the search engine results. But they employ different tactics to stimulate the search engines to present the content at the top of search results. Even though the actual organic search results are not paid, the strategies involved in this process will demand some costs. These charges are reliant on the competitiveness of the industry that is on focus. Whatever the market, the major motive of SEO is to draw the related audience who are interested in your product or service. This is highly achieved by performing thorough research on the keywords and including them accurately. 


Search engine marketing (SEM) is a strategy to attract the related audience from the search engines by employing paid advertisements, similar to PPC. This paid SEM strategy involves a couple of key tactics involved in setting up creating and optimizing the ads as per the planned budget. Even though there are several PPC platforms present in the search segment, a highly used and popular one is Google AdWords. By making use of this strategy, several businesses perform thorough Keyword research and develop campaigns that are relevant to their segment, products, or services. As users hit the search engine with these keywords, they will be shown specific ads at the top or bottom of the search results. The business will be charged every time a user clicks the advertisement. The major motive of SEM is to aid the advertisers to get prominence in search results and get funneled traffic without the need of waiting. So, it is key to have a robust, energetic SEM strategy to gain the best value for their investment. 

Why Is SEO and SEM Important? 

  • SEO and SEM are effective and proven processes that can aid a variety of businesses to get desired outcomes. With a proper analysis of search engine platform, business owners can attract the online traffic that is available abundantly. These search engine campaigns involve precise keyword research, website administration, and specific sponsored campaigns that are responsible for the success of the process. By proper implementation of these strategies there will be an improvement in the brand visibility, successful leads, increase in search engine rankings, etc. With all these processes, you have to make sure which process is best suited for your business and kick start the venture. But there is always a debate regarding the effectiveness of both the process.   
  • Some suggest that SEO could be the best long-term strategy, as it will provide high-quality leads at less cost when compared to SEM. But this will depend on the business-specific needs and condition of the market. A particular business may not have an exact resource for performing effective SEO and another business might not have an appropriate budget for investing in any paid strategy. Hence, there should be a proper analysis of all the business requirements and budget constraints for your specific industry. With a solid online marketing strategy in place, there will be a clear idea of the target customer requirements and the right way to reach them. Regardless of the type or size of your venture, it is important to build a strong strategy for your target audience. This can be accomplished only if you have an experienced and smart online marketing partner. 


Difference between SEO and SEM: 

  • Sponsored ads that are a part of an effective SEM strategy appear specifically on the top/bottom of the search results page. But organic rankings that appear on the search results page due to SEO are not marked similarly. 
  • SEM search results are purely paid promotions and the business will be charged appropriately every time a user clicks on the result. So, there should be a specific budget for constantly showing SEM ads and making use of this strategy for longer. SEO will not charge any amount for user clicks on the organic search results page. 
  • SEM lets the users show only specific content to the target users on the search results page by assigning filters depending on location, age, behaviors, and many more. SEO will not allow businesses to control who can see the search results. 
  • SEO strategy implementation will demand more time to showcase effective results in the search engine conversions. Via SEM paid advertisements, target audiences can be showcased with desired content immediately. 
  • SEM paid ads are only active until you are allocating a specific budget to them, SEO is the opposite of these strategies as it will take some time to show the results but will leave a long-lasting impression if implemented properly. 
  • SEO is highly used when the keywords are less competitive along with budget constraints. Similarly, SEM is effective when the keywords are more competitive and need a higher promotion. It is also suggested when there is a requirement of higher traffic in a short span. 

Bottom line: 

Both SEO and SEM are important as per business needs and market-specific conditions. SEO can enhance brand visibility with the aid of organic results whereas SEM pushes a huge chunk of traffic within no time to improve sales immediately. So, you have to get proper guidance from a trusted digital marketing expert like Growth99 to have successful outcomes. With an experienced and proven strategy, we follow a customized approach for every project after analyzing business requirements and technical needs. 


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