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The difference between SEO and SEM

So you’ve often seen these terms around, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

They sound so similar but yet they’re really different.

In this article, we’ll cover the biggest differences between SEO and SEM.

What exactly is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the process of making technical adjustments and content marketing to get a website ranking at the top of the Google search engine organically.

Here is an example of how an organic search result looks like:

Example of an organic search result

 

The advantages of SEO over SEM

SEO allows a website to be able to obtain organic traffic without having to pay for it.

As compared to SEM, where an advertiser of a website has to pay for every click that comes through the search engine, SEO does not require the advertiser to pay.

By receiving an unlimited amount of free organic traffic that comes through the Google search engine, SEO is a long-term strategy to acquire more website visitors.

Besides, SEO allows your search result to appear every single time for a keyword that you are targeting. On the other hand, SEM might not display your search results that are based on factors such as the bidding amount, the ad score and the budget you have put in place.

Table of SEO vs SEM

Downsides of SEO vs SEM

SEM search results are the first thing that people will see when they enter a search query on Google. Up to 4 SEM search results will appear above 10 organic search results.

It can be difficult to rank a website organically on the search engine within a short time frame.

SEO requires a lot of time and effort to produce highly relevant content on one’s website.

SEM, on the other hand, allows website visitors to find the advertisers who perform SEM as it will appear at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) as seen in the following screenshot:

SEM Search Results on Google

What exactly is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM), also known as Pay-Per-Click advertising or Google Ads is a digital marketing strategy that allows a website to appear on the top of the search engines.

Do you own a local business or an ECommerce store?

Then SEM would be able to help you acquire more traffic and customers if you use them.

Ultimately, the goal is to acquire more leads and sales for your business.

Advantages of SEM as compared to SEO

One obvious advantage of SEM over SEO is that it allows your website to be seen on the top of the Google search engines instantaneously.

You need not wait for weeks, months, or even years for your website to appear on the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

For SEM results, you will be able to have 4 results that appear on the top of the Search Engines, which is the first thing that searchers would see.

This would position you at the top and acquire website traffic.

Disadvantages of SEM compared to SEO

Unfortunately, SEM does have drawbacks as well.

Each time a website visitor clicks onto an SEM search result, the advertiser would need to pay an advertising cost.

This click could range anywhere between $0.50 all the way to $50. The cost depends on the competitiveness of the keyword and the number of people bidding for it.

Should I go for SEO or SEM?

You should be performing some research first before you decide on which to go for.

Head over to Ubersuggest and enter a keyword that is related to your business.

See if there are any low hanging fruits for SEO or SEM.

Typically, if the competition for SEO is easy, it would look like that on Ubersuggest:

Showing the competition of SEO and SEM keywords

By checking on the Search Difficulty and Paid Difficulty, you will have a better understanding of what the competition is like for SEO and SEM.

Furthermore, you could use SEM as a testing ground to see the quality of leads and business that you might receive, before heavily investing in an SEO campaign.

Does running SEM help with SEO?

Contrary to popular belief, SEM does not help with the rankings on SEO.

SEO rankings are independent of SEM.

Although both platforms are served by Google, Google does not favor an organic search result over any other search result because they have ran Google Ads.

Conclusion

Using SEO and SEM is an effective way to capture customers who are in “hunt mode” and are ready to buy.

However, you might be missing out on the rest of the potential market share by only using Search Marketing.

Social Media Marketing would allow you to speak to potential customers who may be problem aware, and not ready to buy yet.

If you want to learn how to improve your organic search rankings using SEO, we offer a FREE SEO course that you could view at your own pace.

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Siti Yahya
Siti Yahya
07:26 09 Oct 20
I am a newbie in the financial advisory industry... I gain more clarity with Jim in the 30mins strategy call on what should I do on my lead generation framework. Looking forward to get results from the framework I am going to implement.
Edwin Ong
Edwin Ong
11:25 05 Oct 20
Jim is very helpful in providing advice and strategy on digital marketing. He also share on the most effective way to promote our event.
A Google User
A Google User
06:06 23 Sep 20
One of the best company to go to for SEO and SEM!
Cindy Teo
Cindy Teo
06:38 07 Aug 20
I saw the facebook ad from Best SEO and registered for the 30 min free strategy call. I thought no one's gonna call but I did receive the call after all. I like that Jim is honest and doesn't sugarcoat his feedback. He cuts to the chase and highlights the areas for improvement.
Rix Tan
Rix Tan
12:29 06 Jul 20
5 stars services. Help my business to achieve a greater heights by providing top notch digital marketing strategies. Highly recommended for all business owners.
Lynda Tan
Lynda Tan
01:08 20 May 20
We love the superb response on upteem changes prior to uploading our new website. Jim is very patience and give opinions based on his professionalism and experience. We are happy to receive good reviews on our new website and our ranking is now higher based on SEO. The fee is very reasonable compared to the number of hours spend revamping our website. Highly recommended. No regrets.
Moernie Osman
Moernie Osman
01:28 19 Mar 20
Jim & Catheryn - we enjoyed working with you in this project. Despite the tight timeline, the numerous changes... you are always accomodating. Thank you for your patience and all the best to the both of you. From all of us at NTU Team MOS.
Benjamin Khoo
Benjamin Khoo
06:04 26 Feb 20
We worked with Jim and Catheryn for our company's website redesign. Jim and Catheryn's are professional and rendered impeccable services. We commend them for being prompt and timely in providing us a perfect solution for our website.
Vashon Liujanta
Vashon Liujanta
05:20 24 Feb 20
Jim & Catheryn has been a joy to work with!They were very involved with the planning of my company's website despite the niche industry and topic that requires a lot of technicalities and understanding. They remained open ears throughout and offered their expertise to go hand in hand with my business niche to create a website that strongly promotes what the company stands for and provides. At the same time, ensuring that the website is able to reach is potential in terms of SEO. Thank You BestSEO for your hardwork and dedication!
Rosette Designs & Co
Rosette Designs & Co
02:34 03 Dec 19
Our session with Jim was truly a great experience. To give an honest over view of our learning session :a. It was insightful and helped us understand how to make the best use of SEO to grow our businessb. Jim really made an effort to simplify the topics for us to make it easier for even the beginners to understand and grasp the subjectc. Jim was friendly and made it easy for us to ask questions. He also went out of the way to help us manage some of our web pages, many thanks to him and definitely would recommend his services!
Mingkuai Wong
Mingkuai Wong
13:45 04 Nov 19
Catheryn from BestSEO did a great job for our website design. Now Oishi pan.sg loads fast and it looks good on mobile. I am very pleased with the result and would recommend her.
xiong yao
xiong yao
06:09 19 Oct 19
Working with Best SEO Singapore has been a great experience. Besides creating a modern-looking website that is mobile responsive, Catheryn and team has ensured that my website does rank well after the website revamp. Would recommend Best SEO Singapore to any business owner looking for affordable and quality website services.
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