Digital Marketing + Beauty Industry

SEO vs SEM: Which is More Important for Your Business?

Search engine optimisation is a must-have marketing strategy for businesses seeking to acquire customers and grow their brands. However, it can be challenging to manage if you don’t compare SEM vs SEO.

While the strategies sound similar, they are very different. You can’t provide a straightforward and successful approach for improving your search exposure if you mix up SEM with SEO and don’t comprehend the differences.

This article will assist you in understanding their meaning. You’ll also discover SEO and SEM concepts and ways to improve your search exposure and performance.

Table of Contents - SEO vs SEM

SEO vs SEM are two distinct online marketing strategies.

  • SEM is an acronym – Search Engine Marketing and refers to buying Google or Bing traffic. Advertisers must pay for each click in SEM. SEM is a good option if you have a tight budget and don’t want to undertake SEO.
  • Enhancing a website’s rating in search engines like Google or Yahoo is SEO. A stable website that ranks higher in SERPs? While improving your brand’s SEO, SEM can assist you in getting quick wins.
  • SEM and SEO both increase revenue, but they work differently. Here’s everything you need to know.

SEO vs SEM Intro

I want to help you, and this begins with my clients learning the vocabulary for this type of marketing before designing a comprehensive search optimisation strategy. So let’s start from the beginning.

Search marketing refers to any strategy that aids a brand’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). It comprises efforts to improve search ranks and exposure to attract traffic to a website or individual web pages.

SEM, which uses PAID techniques to appear in search, and SEO, which uses ORGANIC strategies to appear in search, are the two critical categories under search marketing. The main distinction between SEM and SEO is that SEM is a paid approach, and SEO is an organic strategy.

The definitions of search marketing have evolved, as have most things in the search industry. Some marketers think of SEM as a catch-all word encompassing paid and organic techniques. However, we advocate categorising the terms to make your marketing strategy more transparent.

Always define language before dealing with search partners because these terms might be interchangeable and mean different things to various marketers. Then, discuss the definitions with your marketing partners to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the strategy.

What is SEM?

Because the SEM definition is so broad, it incorporates several factors ( see the above infographic). But it’s compensated chiefly approaches. So, for example, SEM uses paid search engine ads to reach potential buyers at the right time and place.

That’s SEM. This term is used for any search marketing.

Due to the paid search strategies used, SEM is generally referred to as PPC.

So, is PPC the same as SEM? Yes, it is. PPC is the same as SEM.

But it goes by many names. Make a note of them to answer the question, “what is SEM?” They are interchangeable. Also, you may know more about SEM than you realise.

It’s also known as

  • Paid search ads or 
  • Paid advertising (assuming you know it’s on searches). You’ll learn more about SEM from them.
  • Impressions – The number of times your ad marketing campaign was shown on a screen. It doesn’t imply they saw it.
  • CPM (cost per million impressions) – Another way to pay for a search ad.


Depending on your objectives and the ad tool, you may wish to pay to be seen by those searching for products or services.

  • This is the number of hits to your website from people who saw the ad but didn’t click on it.
"By listening, marketing will re-learn how to talk. "
Doc Searls & David Weinberger

SEM vs SEO Cont'd

What is SEO?

What is SEO vs SEM? For example, SEO is the practice of attracting traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

Search engine optimisation is abbreviated as SEO.

It optimises your website for organic (unpaid) traffic from search engines.

What influences SEO? There are various benefits to employing SEO for your organisation. First, you may improve your SEO to improve your search engine presence. This enables you to engage more potential customers. Second, you can attract more targeted organic visitors by developing more engaging and effective SEO-focused content.

Google’s algorithm ranks the search results. Years of SEO experience have given us a strong knowledge of the essential ranking elements. The factors in Google’s algorithm fall into two sections:

  • On-page SEO factors your website ranking is determined in part by on-page factors. On-page SEO factors are all things you can control from within your website. These factors include technical aspects (for example, the quality of your code and site speed) and content-related aspects (for example, the structure of your website or the quality of the copy on your website). All of these are essential on-page SEO factors.

  • Off-page SEO factors Off-page SEO factors exist in addition to on-page SEO factors. BackLinks from other websites, social media attention, and other marketing activities outside your website are examples of these factors. Off-page SEO factors can be challenging to manipulate. The number and quality of links pointing to your site are the most important of these off-page factors—the more high-quality, relevant sites that link to your website, the higher your Google ranking.


Another off-page factor to consider is your competition in the niche of your particular business. Some niches are much more challenging to rank in than others. As a result, the competitiveness of your market has a significant impact on your chances of ranking.

  • Holistic SEO At Yoast, we use a technique known as ‘holistic SEO.’ This implies that your primary goal should be to create and maintain the best website possible. Don’t try to fool Google; instead, employ a long-term sustainable strategy. If your website is of exceptional quality, the ranking will come naturally. As part of its mission to index all of the world’s online information and make it universally accessible and helpful, Google wants to direct its users to the right place.


Aside from that, Google, of course, wants to make money. To accomplish this, your brand must continue to use Google. Google always is looking to provide its users with the best outcomes they are searching for. For a best in industry, website Google will want it to appear near the top of the search results.

To permanently rank well in Google, your site necessitates a comprehensive SEO strategy that addresses every aspect of your website and its marketing. The technical aspects, the User eXperience (UX), and the content on your website must all be excellent. To maintain a high Google ranking, you should implement a holistic SEO strategy.


The Difference Between SEO vs SEM

While SEO ranks a website in organic search results, SEM uses a pay-per-click strategy to show text advertising above organic search results.

Assume you are a marketing executive for a B2B Premium Skincare supplier.

Your website must rank highly in both sponsored and organic search results to be seen and potentially gain clients at this vital time. In addition, your website must rank high in paid search results, organic search results, or both to get seen and potentially attract clients at this important point. The Difference between SEO Vs SEM

To appear in sponsored search results, you must use Google AdWords. Then, within a day, your company website ranks in the top four spots on Google when a potential consumer searches for phrases like “organic food providers.” Because Google AdWords costs per click (PPC).

You realise that if additional competitors bid for the same target keywords, you may not be able to keep your budget in place.

You decide to invest in SEO to improve your website’s ranking in organic search results.

Both SEO and SEM are subsets of digital search marketing coexisting in the same search channel. We pay for SEM traffic but not for SEO traffic.

Having said that, here is a comparison between SEO and SEM.

Differences SEO Vs SEM
Differences SEM vs SEO Infographic

Similarities SEO vs SEM

  • Both SEO and SEM are intent-based marketing and coexist on the search channel.

  • Being featured in SEM or SEO search results increases brand awareness regardless of clicks.

  • Both require knowing your target demographic. To be effective with any approach, you must first understand your target audience. For example, using buyer personas and psychographic segmentation might help you know your target market. Then you may create relevant material that surfaces when people search for solutions.

  • Both employ keyword research to find popular search terms. The first step in SEM and SEO is to study keywords. Using keyword popularity to determine your ideal audience’s top keywords is part of the research. It also involves analysing keyword competition to see what other firms are doing to target the same terms as you.

  • Both target keywords. Both strategies target keywords uncovered during keyword research. Each method revolves around keywords.

  • Both require testing and optimisation. Remember that neither SEM nor SEO is a one-and-done strategy. Both require constant testing, monitoring, and tweaking.

Differences SEM vs SEO

  • SEM search placements include the word “Ad.” SEO, however, does not. As a result, search results that surface due to SEM or SEO on SERPs seem differently. Paid advertiser example, paid Ads that obtain a placement through SEM strategies is frequently identified as ads (e.g., an icon showing next to the placement). In contrast, organic SEO search results are not tagged in this way.
  • SEM will appear above SEO search results (up to 4 paid search results) appear above (up to 10 organic search results), but think how often you as a consumer click on the Google Ads. 
  • SEM is distinguished with then Ad symbol, while the top Website (SEO) does not.
  • SEO Google search results have various distinguishing characteristics from SEM search results featured snippets, while SEM contain extension features 
  • SEO drives organic (non-paid) traffic, while SEM drives paid traffic while 
  • SEO take a longer time to show results than SEM efforts
Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue. "
Andrew Davis

Which Is More Important for Your Business?

You’ll be able to pick which strategy is best for your marketing strategies now that you’ve compared SEM vs SEO. Using what your experienced Digital Marketing Agency like Audrey Anderson World knows and consider following their advice when deciding which is best for your brand.

Think about your competition. Before you determine how to compete with them, look at what your competitors are doing and how they are performing in search marketing. Next, investigate the search terms on which they rank organically. Next, consider whether you can carry out a strategy to outperform their SERP placements. Finally, examine the purchased words they’re employing to bring traffic to their sites. Look for holes that you can fill and areas where you will be unable to compete in both sponsored and organic searches when you conduct your research.

This competitive analysis form may help you understand how you compare to the competition in search and identify areas for growth.

Using Ahrefs or Ubbersuggest, Enter up to ten of your competitors to see the top organic and sponsored search terms driving traffic to their websites.

Think about how well you know your industry. If you’ve been in the company for a while and already know what your customers want and how to reach them, you might want to start developing a long-term SEO plan that will deliver value over time. If you are unsure how customers or competitors will react to your goods or content, you should consider an SEM campaign that allows you to test your ideas, products, and services. Use these websites for market research better to understand your target audience and your industry position.

Consider the length of your average customer’s purchasing cycle. If your products and services have a quick customer buying cycle, which means that your consumers know what they want, search for it, and buy it, you may benefit from SEM advertisements that place your product precisely where customers will see it. On the other hand, longer buying cycles, in which clients research and compare for weeks or months, may not perform well with SEM because there is no quick purchase after seeing one ad.

Consider the industry’s average cost-per-click. Before selecting whether SEM is suitable for your company, do your homework and calculate how much you’ll need to spend to appear in paid search results. The cost-per-click for keywords varies according to competition. It may be the best method for you if your cost-per-click is cheap. On the other hand, an extremely high cost-per-click may lead you to believe that you would be better off focusing on SEO.

Consider the age of your company. For Startups who have recently started their business and established your website, it will take some time to improve your SEO and begin to appear naturally in search results. While this does not preclude you from developing an SEO plan, it implies that you may profit from an SEM approach while working on your SEO. SEM is an excellent approach to boosting visitors while improving your organic SEO.

Consider your website’s current state. When developing a marketing strategy, search for “low-hanging fruit” or changes that will have the most significant impact with the least amount of effort. So, before you launch a search marketing campaign, look at your website to see where you might be able to expand an organic SEO approach that is already working before investing in an SEM campaign.

Why Is SEO more important than SEM?

1. SEO Aids Brand Building Online SEO aids brand building online. Using SEO, firms may increase brand recognition and authority. With search engine optimisation, you can get an organic presence in the search results. It lends credibility to your brand, especially if you are fresh. High-quality content, fast website loading, H-tags, meta descriptions, and mobile-friendliness are all characteristics that help improve user experience. All of this helps to create your brand and make it memorable.2. Unlike other digital marketing tactics, SEO is built on user intent. It attracts visitors to the website by offering entertaining and valuable information. Thus, helping your brand develop deeper ties with site visitors and more vital brand awareness. As a result, you receive tailored traffic and a smoother conversion process. As a result, 70% of respondents stated SEO outperforms PPC at generating sales.3. With 87.76 per cent of searches being done on Google, getting your website to rank organically might help you create trust with customers. Users trust Google, thus ranking high in the SERPs for every search query naturally boosts your brand’s credibility. Again, the goal is to deliver a valuable user experience. This will help you gain internet authority and become a trusted brand.4. Stay Ahead of the Competition. With SEO, you can see what your competitors are doing right. Keywords, backlink profiles, and onsite content will benefit your marketing efforts. In addition, competitor analysis helps you understand your rivals. This can help you uncover potential competitive advantages. As a result, your brand will always be ahead of the curve.5. SEO is the best strategy to increase online presence and targeted web traffic. SEO helps your target audience locate your products and services online using keywords and user intent. The goal is to keep the material consistent and high quality, increase your website’s searchability and visibility and generate sales leads.6. Driving organic traffic to your website is critical to building a viable online business. SEO can help. Organic traffic comes from Google, Bing, and Yahoo. A broad backlink profile and highlighted snippets can drive organic traffic to a website. Unlike bought traffic that ceases after a paid promotional campaign, SEO can drive organic traffic continuously.7. Higher Ranking For Focused Keywords SEO can also help you rank higher for targeted keywords. Keywords and phrases are used in your online pages and blog entries. An SEO audit tool can generate a list of targeted keywords for each web page or product. Next, create/update content with these keywords. Finally, after publishing fresh content on your site, you should promote it on social media to increase visibility. This will help you rank higher for that term.8. One of the best features of SEO is that it is a measurable marketing strategy. All SEO indicators are measurable, from traffic to content to conversion. This allows you to assess and improve your process continuously.9. Long Term Digital Marketing Strategy SEO works. Long-term benefits accrue to a website that uses the best SEO techniques. This is why organisations frequently view SEO as an investment rather than a cost. Ranking for specific keywords can be difficult with more intelligent algorithms. It is essential that your website is up to date and matched with current SEO trends.10. My all-time favourite is that SEO is an investment rather than an expenditure, giving my clients a higher ROI in the long term. Thus, marking this the most cost-effective digital marketing strategy for increasing website traffic and SERP rankings.11. Boosting Local SEO targets a specific city, town, or area—for example, Surrey dentists or a Surrey web design firm. With the continually increasing number of mobile internet users, targeting a specific demographic might help increase your ROI. Most importantly, data show that 97% of consumers utilise the Internet to find local companies. So, the numbers speak for themselves.12. While SEO is primarily used to increase a brand’s online presence, it may also create excellent leads. It is done by researching keywords and implementing them throughout the webpage. In addition, writing engaging content helps generate targeted traffic to your website. Other methods include advanced SEO, outreach, and link development. A technical SEO audit can also discover issues (lack of CTA, broken contact form) that hinder leads from becoming sales.13. Enhanced Conversions SEO makes your site accessible to search engines while improving user experience. It improves search rankings and organic traffic. A solid SEO strategy can quickly boost your conversion rate.14. Local SEO can quickly enhance your website to promote offline sales as more people utilise the Internet to identify local companies. For example, incorporate a call extension/WhatsApp button on your website, create geo-specific content and optimise existing material for voice search. Adding reviews, ratings, and customer testimonials to your website might also help. All of these will assist you to convert customers who are ready to buy a product or service right now.15. While social media has no direct impact on SEO, it can assist promote content, raising brand awareness, and creating link building chances. For example, title tags and descriptions are part of SEO. In addition, likes, shares, and comments can help generate trust and consumer loyalty, increasing website traffic.16. Compared to paid marketing, SEO is the most cost-effective way to generate continuous website visitors. I always notify my clients that your traffic and rankings will drop when they stop paying for ads, making SEO a superior long-term investment. In addition, it can assist build steady website traffic that grows over time.17. Advanced SEO methods like outreach, guest blogging, and link building can help organisations find new ways to work with influencers in their field. This will help boost website, referral visitors. In addition, it might help you expand your audience. The best aspect is that it can help you gain authority in your specialised industry and boost your Google authority.18. Business SEO is a long term approach that will help increase site traffic and ranking. But, like sponsored advertising, it is not a quick remedy. Years after publication, well-written and optimised blog pieces still have an influence. Similarly, guest posting and outreach can help you grow your domain authority over time. All of these can help you become a market leader in your field.
What is Right for my Brand Infographic SEO vs SEM

Why Is SEM Used?

  • SEM: Increasing Revenue by Spending More!

Please show me the money! That is marketing’s raison d’être!

Google has proof that Bing, Baidu, Yandex, and the rest are profitable places to place search ads. Google claims that businesses can double their AdWords spend!

  • While most marketing strategies aim to make money, other conversions should not be disregarded. For example, marketing campaign goals like new subscribers, email signups, or contest participants are all examples of conversions.

  • In search engine results, ads display first. Therefore, ads on paid search can get you to the top of the SERPs (ad section) if your keyword bid is high and your quality score is good.

In contrast to SEO and other forms of online marketing, SEM can give quick results.

  • A regular web traffic source is essential for maintaining visibility and sales and planning, forecasting, and budgeting. Unfortunately, traffic fluctuations are common and generally inexplicable. Search advertisements can help you regulate the amount of traffic arriving on your site at any moment and help you produce constant traffic for selected keywords.

  • While SEM is frequently considered a bottom-funnel marketing channel, it can also help build brand awareness. For example, Google claims that search ads can raise brand recognition by 80%.

  • Affordability is a significant concern with sponsored search advertising. However, as shown by Google’s data in argument #1, you should quadruple your investment in AdWords if managed well. So ROI is possible no matter what.

  • SEM is a must-have tool for increasing website traffic and conversions if you’re a local marketer. Local marketing connects local businesses with the communities they serve.

  • Sure, increasing traffic isn’t the only benefit of SEM. One of the main advantages of search ads is targeted traffic. You can’t always control who sees your organic search results, but with SEM, the ability to target a particular demographic that is more likely to view and engage with your advertisements. PPC search advertising allows you to target specific demographics and visitors at any sales funnel stage, making them more qualified than organic SEO traffic.

Key Takeaway’s – SEO Vs SEM 

I would always encourage my Client to look at SEO now and in the future?  

Always starting with a successful SEO strategy can result in a LOT of visitors. Your site will get a lot of organic visitors if it ranks well in Google. 

Organic search results have a considerably greater click-through rate than Google ads. For example, organic search generates 53% of website traffic, while paid search generates 27%. 

Because many users (25,8%) use ad blockers and don’t see Google ads, the ‘normal’ search results may be more relevant to the search query.

SEO provides a good Return on Investment. Of course, you need to develop killer content, undertake keyword research, and optimise your internal linking structure. But any SEO effort pays dividends! SEO offers a good ROI (ROI). SEO not only has a better average conversion rate, but it is also a long-term investment. 

While you will need to update your content from time to time, you will not be charged to keep it in the search results. If your content is good and your website is easy to use, Google will show it in the results. This means you’ll get a return on investment for a long time.

Once your SEO onsite and offsite are banging, I would follow up by recommending looking at SEM for my clients.

I hope you enjoyed this read, and if you need further information, please don’t hesitate to send me an email.


Euromonitor International Beauty Survey 2018

Euromonitor International Beauty Survey 2018 Consumer beauty tastes change in parallel with shifts in demographics, purchasing power, and wider megatrends influencing habits worldwide. While this evolution creates opportunities for brands

Read More »

Inbound Marketing For Rodan + Fields

Inbound Marketing Approach How to Sell Rodan and Fields Skincare: The Complete Guide For Small Businesses. Learn the inbound marketing approach and all about lead generation. Table of Contents –

Read More »
Blackhead vs Whitehead + Blackhead Treatment

Blackhead vs Whitehead What Is the Distinction

Blackhead vs Whitehead  + Blackhead Treatment What Is the Distinction Between Blackheads and Whiteheads? Blackhead vs Whitehead: Many people, mostly younger women, can often find looking online about blackheads. They will

Read More »

For any inquiries please email

Grow with confidence