SEO vs SEM: Which Is Better for My Business 2022
May 18, 2022
Author : John Gallagher
SEO vs SEM digital marketing specialist implementing seo and sem strategies for companies and brand websites

Looking for ways to make sure your business explodes online?

You’d better have a baller marketing strategy that understand SEO vs SEM.

This strategy will, of course, require your brand to show up on Google, where over 3 billion searches are made every single day.

You can’t just buy that kind of exposure.

You’ll need to earn it.

To receive the fastest, strongest growth for the lowest possible cost, you’re going to want to make sure your business shows up in those search results.

Here’s the next looming question: what’s the best way to achieve brand visibility among so many other online results?

Here’s the short answer: organic and paid search marketing together help achieve best results, deployed together to help put your brand in front of the right eyes.

Both of these methods fall under the umbrella of “search marketing,” which refers to any practice that helps boost a brand’s presence in search engine results.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — also known as organic marketing or natural marketing — refers to the process of organically increasing your performance in search engines.

In other words, SEO uses organic strategies to improve the rankings of your pages in search results.

While some people might consider SEO an “outdated” form of marketing, we consider it to be an art, one that can yield serious dividends if you put in the time and the effort.

Some examples of organic strategies typically include:

  • Ensuring your website is up-to-date and characterized by specific keywords;
  • Publishing high-quality content on your website pages, social media channels and other customer-facing digital resources;
  • Prioritizing a customer-friendly aesthetic and easy-to-use user experience across all digital touchpoints;
  • Offering a variety of free, downloadable assets as a way to build trust with your audience.

Believe it or not, more than 40% of online revenue comes from organic marketing strategies.

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an umbrella term, referring to any financed strategy that magnifies your presence in search results and drives traffic to your website.

In other words, SEM uses paid strategies to show your web pages, social profiles, and other digital assets to online audiences.

One of the biggest benefits of SEM is the fact that it ensures your brand will show at the exact moment your target audience hits “Enter” on a search.

We all know the power that paid ads hold; when they connect the right audience with the right product, sales regularly roll in.

In fact, over 60% of searchers have clicked on a Google advertisement instead of a website when given the choice.

SEO and SEM are two very different (but very successful) approaches to brand optimization. Now, it’s time to determine which solution — or which balance — is best suited for your current business needs.

SEO vs SEM: which is better for your business?

The primary goal of both SEO and SEM is to drive traffic to your website, but there are a few specific distinctions between the two marketing methods.

1. Cost of SEO vs SEM

The first major difference between SEO and SEM is the price, and the payment frequency. SEO focuses on organically generated traffic from different search engines, whereas SEM complements organic results with paid advertisements.

One is literally free (SEO), though you’ll often need to pay an SEO specialist for best results. By contrast, SEM regularly charges you money, often on a per-click basis.

2. Speed of SEO vs SEM

It’s no secret that an organic marketing strategy takes longer than a paid marketing strategy, particularly if you’re a newer business without an established reputation. SEO can take months, sometimes years, before your website begins ranking well across key search engines like Google.

Despite its longer runway, organic marketing is incredibly powerful, especially if you are focused on building a network-driven customer base. Many consumers respond much better to a personal relationship as opposed to a generalized advertisement.

SEM, on the other hand, is quite fast. You can create and launch ads across a variety of platforms in only a few hours.

3. Reach of SEO vs SEM

Another important factor in deciding between SEO and SEM is the total reach your strategy can achieve. With SEO, it’s a bit more complicated to reach your target audience ― though the results can be transformative.

With organic marketing, you have to take the time to research where your ideal clients are hanging out online, and the language they might respond best to.

With paid advertising, you’re able to filter who your ads reach, which enables you to immediately and directly target your ideal audience. You can select customers by age, income, location, gender — you actually create a blueprint for your ideal client as you create the ads.

When is SEO better than SEM?

Identifying the ideal marketing strategy for your brand can often feel overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to carefully consider your business timeline, budget and goals before settling on a direction.

If you are currently focused on long-term growth goals, prioritizing nurtured customer relationships over immediate sales, SEO is likely the strategy that’s best for you. SEO is also likely a better strategy is your digital marketing budget is limited, or if you’d rather spend short-term funding on other areas of your business.

If you’re looking to test-drive a new product or receive quick insights into your audience’s preferences, SEM is likely a better option to satisfy your goals. More so than SEO, SEM can help your company generate immediate sales, since you don’t have to wait to establish an online preference.

If neither exclusive SEO or SEM feel the perfect fit — or choosing between the two doesn’t feel quite right — we’ve got a third option for you.

Do SEO and SEM work better together?

Why SEO vs SEM? SEO and SEM are powerful marketing strategies when deployed individually; combine the two, and your business will operate on a different level.

Successful businesses formulate a strategy that channels both SEO and SEM, because together, they create the ultimate digital strategy.

Some of the best benefits of cooperative SEO and SEM include:

  • Achieving fast results, growth and long-term ROI;
  • Using the speed of SEM to test the best keywords for future SEO focus;
  • Applying the copy and aesthetic that performed best in ads directly to your website content and pages;
  • Leveraging insights gained from organic competitor research to create better, faster advertising results.

Integrating both SEO and SEM into your marketing plan not only helps you cover “all the bases” when it comes to providing the ultimate user experience. SEM and SEO together also offer an abundance of opportunities, to promote both short and long-term business success ― both on and off your website.

Master SEO and SEM in weeks ― not years

If you’re ready to increase traffic to your website, boost sales and amplify revenue, you’re ready for WorkForce Institute.

WorkForce Institute is an online course provider that offers the education and skills you need to take your business to the next level. Our knowledge-based Digital Marketing Bootcamp offers hands-on courses with all the tools you need to fully implement SEO and SEM best practices.

To learn more about how you can learn SEO, SEM and other skills that today’s employers and businesses need, reach out to our on-demand Admissions team today.

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