A Guide to Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization

What is better Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? There is no better. They are both essential to internet marketing strategy. So maybe the more accurate question is: How should I effectively use the two, both SEM AND SEO in tandem to best market my business online? Let’s compare the two.

Search Engine Marketing

What makes Search Engine Marketing so great for businesses is that it is instantaneous. Whether you are a start-up or a large business launching a new product, SEM is a great opportunity to get your business or product in front of the public and your target market before your SEO content has a chance to get indexed, ranked, and positioned in a position to make a difference in your internet marketing efforts. Using the ad space above the organic listings on search engines is a primary example of search engine marketing.

Once a successful Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign has been established, selected users that you target—whether it be based on the users’ information or their search terms—will be shown sponsored ads that they can click through to get to your site.

Here are some of the top benefits of Search Engine Marketing over Search Engine Optimization:

  • SEM ads are very quick to implement
  • SEM ads are guaranteed a position (based on bids) in search engine results with high rankings
  • SEM ads allow for specific targeting based on geo-location, keywords, and cost
  • SEM ads are very flexible and can change focus easily
  • SEM ads are a great way to create brand awareness

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is using webmaster best practices to create a website using a mixture of on-site, off-site and technical optimizations. A large part of this is creating user-friendly content that search engines see as authoritative and relevant. As search engines see your site as being high quality and a leader in your niche, they will rank your content higher and you will receive lots of organic traffic based on user queries.

Here are some of the top benefits of Search Engine Optimization over Search Engine Marketing:

  • SEO has lower costs compared to SEM
  • SEO has lasting results
  • SEO creates brand credibility and authority
  • SEO often has better long term ROI than SEM
  • SEO allows you to cover all corners of the internet globe
  • SEO forces you to create content for your site that makes it easier for users and provides them more information to help with the decision-making process and continual promotion


It isn’t a question of which works better. There is no versus. For a successful marketing campaign, both SEM and SEO should part of your strategy. Search Engine Marketing should be used to immediately impact your sales and foster brand recognition and Search Engine Optimization on-page and off-page strategies should be used for long-term, organic growth, to keep cost down for the future.

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