SEO and SEM - Two Ways of Business Development

Table of Contents

Since search engines are so critical to attracting customers, it is no surprise that there are many terms to describe the efforts to attract them. While everyone agrees that SEO is the quest to increase organic traffic with the help of improving search engine ranking, there is still disagreement about describing paid attempts - SEM. It may seem unclear, but as social media has organic and paid traffic, so does search engine traffic.

Let us break down these terms and find out what the difference is between them and what kind of benefits these terms can bring to you and your business.

What is SEO?

SEO (from Search Engine Optimization) is a set of tasks to increase sales through the site, increase the time a client stays on the page, collect feedback and add to the loyal customer base. Also, one of the critical advantages of this type of promotion is to bring the site into the top 10 for search queries.

And the position in the search engine is precisely one of the main reasons why SEO, in general, is used and why so much attention is paid to this phenomenon.

The advantages of SEO

  • Profitability. Attracted traffic - users who entered the keyword query and came to the site from a search. These people are ready to perform a targeted action (e.g., buy). That is, by increasing the site's visibility in search, SEO increases the site’s income.

  • Long-term effect. The effect of optimization is maintained for a long time (as compared to the work on the contextual component). After working on a particular category, the site will take high positions in issuance (on specific requests). This means the page is liked by search robots and will rank well until (if) the requirements/rules of search engines change.

  • Trusting the customer relationship. Users may not trust ads and are more willing to go to sites at the top of search results. In addition, the internal optimization site becomes more convenient for the user, leaving a pleasant impression and causing a desire to return to the site, make another purchase, and advise to make orders to friends and acquaintances.

SEO and SEM - Two Ways of Business Development

What is SEM?

The next definition that should be considered is SEM, which is the abbreviation for Search Engine Marketing. This complicated term means a set of marketing activities that include media-context advertising, contextual advertising, SEO, etc. In contrast to SEO, it is a paid way of business development.

The essential aim of any SEM is to increase the level of visibility in search engines. It means that it is used for the reason of reaching the top positions in the search engine rankings. The higher your website ranks there, the more traffic you consequently have.

The advantages of SEM

  • Increasing the visibility of the site. Not all keywords can get a company into the top 10 or even 5 search results. Advertising helps to correct this situation and take the top positions, so SEM is the key to attracting the attention of warm leads.

  • Better recognition of the company. The target audience is more likely to see the brand's offerings through SEM tools. Increased awareness helps to market, attract new customers, and increase loyalty.

  • Increase in reach. The strategy of SEM involves attracting users not only from search results but also from social networks, which increases the reach of the target audience and traffic as well.

  • Increase in sales. It helps to attract leads ready to buy, so search engine marketing affects the growth of conversions and contributes to increased profits. It can be compared to a promoter in front of a store, who aims to get the attention of potential customers and shows where he can buy the desired product or service.

What is the difference?

Most people look for the needed information on the Internet before buying something. Hence, a strong search presence is critical, and a strategic combination of SEM and SEO can improve your visibility in the long run.

From this, SEO is a relatively free attempt at business development with organic traffic, while SEM is targeted advertising you pay for. They can be complementary. However, if your site is optimized for SEO first, SEM has a better chance to meet success.

Thus, SEO is the essence of successful SEM. And when you set it up right, your chances of getting quality traffic and higher conversion rates are close to the needed results. If you have an SEO-friendly site (with well-translated content in English, German , or French , for instance) and sponsored ads that are appropriately targeted using the right keywords, you have a better chance of being at the top of paid searches. But you must have your SEO in place so that Google sees you as a trustworthy site.

Goals and Reach

SEO uses link building, content (video content can be included as well), and keywords to improve search engine rankings. SEM essentially relies on PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising to showcase results in the paid area of search pages to increase conversions.

Also, note that SEO marketing is limited to increasing your search engine rankings. PPC advertising can now cover a wider reach, including social media sites and online marketplaces.

Time and cost

SEO requires virtually no capital investment (if you have no need to translate from Spanish to English, for example). However, it is focused on long-term results and is time-consuming. According to Ahrefs, it can take two years to get on the first page of Google.

But you can still get great results in the first few months of your SEO strategy. That is if you prefer long keywords and relevant search terms for your brand.

What is more expensive - SEO or SEM?

For sure, most marketers take great care of how to cut the expenses related to business promotion and its worldwide recognition. And the question appears - what is a more expensive way to reach these goals? But firstly, you need to know precisely how fast you want to reach these goals.

Both ways allow marketers to promote, but SEO can be a time-consuming process, and you will see the desired results in half of a year or more. On the other side, we have Search Engine Marketing, which has the same goal as SEO but can provide you with faster results.

From this point of view, it is worth highlighting that SEM will cost you more than SEO services. However, you see that the results in terms of time are way better while applying SEM.


SEO and SEM perform close to each other tasks within the Internet marketing framework. Their basic methods and approaches aim to increase traffic to the resource, brand promotion, and commercial success of the Internet project with the help of search engines.

However, SEM is a broader term than SEO. It implies a set of methods for Internet marketing. It considers all factors associated with selling products or services on the Internet. SEO is the foundation of search engine marketing, but SEM is more than just search engine promotion. It also includes all the technical and creative work on developing ads, unique selling propositions, design aspects, etc.

Comprehensive promotion, of course, requires a more considerable investment than a relatively budgetary SEO optimization. However, the effectiveness of marketing actions, in this case, increases significantly.

Last news

More in this tags