SEO vs SEM: What’s Perfect For Your Brand?

Aqueb Safwan Jaser


Aqueb Safwan Jaser


May 1, 2022

SEO vs SEM: What’s Perfect For Your Brand?

Table of Content:

  1. What is SEM?
  2. What is SEO?

Google search results are categorized into segments. One is organic while the other is paid. Now, you might be wondering whether paying for the search results is worth it or not or on the contrary, will it be efficient to implement all your tactics to get the desired organic results.

To clear away confusion, let’s dive into this detailed discussion.

What is SEM?

SEM, broadly known as Search Engine Marketing, is generally considered one of the fundamental aspects of search marketing, which makes use of paid methods in order to obtain exposure in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

When it comes to using a paid SEM strategy, you would not only find yourself creating and optimizing ads but also, setting a relevant budget that would help to pay for the placing of your ads.

An SEM strategy is also defined as pay-per-click (PPC) marketing or simply, paid search. The search provider that is frequently used to implement this strategy is the ever-popular, Google Ads formerly referred to as Google Adwords. When SEM strategy and Google Ads come together, it immediately becomes a miracle for all the brands out there.

Though it might sound like an exaggeration, in reality, it’s not. Through this approach, brands run detailed keyword research, carefully understanding which works best and which does not. Then they move on to selecting some of the best keywords to create effective campaigns for appropriate products, services, or even the entire industry as a whole.

So, later on, when the targeted users conduct a Google search by mentioning the selected keywords, they come across the custom ads appearing either at the bottom or the top of SERPs. Every time user clicks on the ad, the brand is charged a certain amount.

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the part of search marketing that uses ORGANIC tactics to gain visibility in SERPs. With SEO, brands don’t pay for placement on SERPs. Instead, they use a variety of tactics that prompt search engines to show their content near the top of SERPs because the result is valuable and authoritative.

SEO, broadly known as Search Engine Optimization, is the feature of search marketing that takes an organic approach in order to acquire visibility in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). When it comes to SEO, brands do not need to pay to place their ads to appear on SERPs.

As an alternative, they utilize a wide range of methods that causes search engines to showcase their content at the very top of SERPs. The reason for brands taking an organic approach puts their content at the top and not the bottom is because they are then considered highly valuable and of course, authentic.

SEO includes hundreds of tactics that can help a brand increase its search rankings. These white hat SEO techniques are often grouped into three categories.

While SEO suggests innumerable methods to support a brand in boosting its search rankings,  the following tactics are categorized into three segments - On-Page SEO, Technical SEO, and Off-Page SEO. Due to their authenticity, these tactics are referred to as ‘White hat SEO’.


On-Page SEO

To target a particular keyword and have it conform to the general policies of search engines, On-Page SEO leverages every single page of a website. The strategies that fall under On-Page SEO are content creation, keyword research, and optimization.

Through On-Page SEO, search engines get a thorough idea of the content uploaded on a website which helps it to make it top-ranked.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO, as the name suggests, looks after the ‘tech’ side of the website. Basically, it optimizes the non-content features along with the overall website to further refine its backend establishment.

The strategies that fall under Technical SEO are mobile usability, indexing, site speed and architecture, crawlability, security, and structured data. When user and search crawler experiences get improved, the website naturally appears at the top of the search.

Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO helps to make a website more authorized by linking it with already valuable websites on the internet. The tactics that fall under this last category involve link building, that is, obtaining first-rate backlinks of other websites as well as handling directory profiles and local listings.

A website’s search ranking immediately gets increased when a myriad of high-quality website links are associated with it. This shows that the website can be considered genuine and reliable.

Now that we are aware of the definition, let’s look into the differences between SEO & SEM

1) As mentioned earlier, SEM search placements have an ‘Ad designation’ involved, whereas, an SEO search does not. Meaning, SEM takes a paid approach while SEO opts for an organic take to have their content appear at the top.

2) As for the appearance of both the search results, SEM search results include ad extensions, whereas, SEO search results showcase featured snippets.

3) Here’s another repeated difference that is necessary to be highlighted. Every time an SEM result gets clicked by users, you would need to pay. On the contrary, for every click on an SEO result, you don’t need to pay anything.

4) SEM results specifically cater to your target audience, SEO results don’t.

5) The process of SEO is slow-growth while you will get immediate results with SEM.

6) As you can turn off SEM paid ads at the tip of your fingers, it is best for testing in comparison to SEO.

7) As opposed to SEM, SEO has a higher click-through rate (CTR) but here’s the catch, you need to get to the top first.

So, as you can see, each search results have their individual pros and cons. It entirely depends upon you to decide which one works best for your business.

If you are looking for something quick, surely, SEM is what you should be opting for. But then if you aim to grow at a steady pace, there is no better option than SEO. It’s all out there. Pick the one that works best and let your business enjoy its deserving exposure!

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