top of page

SEM VS SEO: Which is Better For Your Business

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

keyboard and a tab on a table


In this modern world of the internet, where everything is digitalized, trends are changing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trend of online work is increasing day by day. Same with the case of marketing, the old strategies are not working, and digital marketing is gaining much importance, especially among young entrepreneurs such as writers, designers, freelancers, graphic designers, and web designers.

By using digital marketing strategies, small businesses gain many new customers and expand their businesses by using digital platforms such as social media and search engine marketing. Research shows that customers believe in the products' information, brands provided on the internet, social media platforms, or search engines. So entrepreneurs are investing more money in digital marketing such as search engine marketing, and SEO, and you should do the same for your business.

Search engine optimization is used to increase websites' ranking so whenever somebody searches products related to your field, your page appears in the search engine result page in front of them. Research shows that both platforms are evolving, gaining much importance, and both of these platforms are influencing one another.

Now let's get into the gist of the day.

What is search marketing?

It is a process to gain visibility and more traffic from search engines(such as Google, Yahoo, Bing) for websites through paid and unpaid (organic) methods. These advertisements appear in different formats, like textboxes or the list of products with reviews. These advertisements are based on keywords, so when the user enters those keywords on the search engine the ad will appear so in this way the ad will appear to the targeted audience. It is sometimes referred to as SEM by some marketers. The most popular search engine used today is Google.

Let's say you have a digital marketing company in Nigeria, and a client is in need of digital marketing services, you added the keywords in your advertisement - Digital marketing consultant Nigeria, social media marketing Nigeria, Digital marketing company in Nigeria, by using these keywords the person who wants to pay for digital marketing service finds your website/business platform in search engine results page (SERP) which will prompt the client to contact you and pay for your services.

The best thing about Search engine marketing is that your business appears only to those users who are motivated to buy the product at that moment. This helps in expanding business through sales and lead generation. 

It is divided into two categories:

I. SEO (search engine optimization):

Attain search engine citation through unpaid techniques. This is a long term investment and with hard work, your website will continue to rise through the rankings.

II. Search Engine Marketing(SEM):

Attain search engine citation through paid techniques. Your paid Ads will be situated at the top of the page.

Let's go into more details then:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

SEO stands for search engine optimization. Through the search engine, we rank our site in the unpaid section. With SEO, you can use different techniques to promote a business to the top of the rankings. Furthermore, SEO changes the website design, which makes the content smarter to a search engine. By using SEO, display our website top of the web results. Due to different reasons, SEO looks difficult, which impact on ranking. SEO provides the best services to the user.

Google Search engine result page

The search engines scan through the websites and assess their navigation ease. Moreover, the readable content present on the sites is also analyzed. The sites offering optimal navigation and readability are ranked higher in the results displayed on the search engines.

Moving ahead, search engine optimization is the process adopted by almost all organizations to rank their websites higher among their competitors using different potential keywords and phrases.

For instance, you have an article about building a birdhouse, and you have to rank it higher on the search engine results; you will use specific keywords that will make the article rank higher. The blog will be optimized so that it will always show on top when people search for the phrase "build a birdhouse."

Implementation of search engine optimization brings with it numerous benefits. It will help expand your website's visibility on different search engines and reach and engage with more customers. The chances of attracting a high number of targeted organic traffic also increase with search engine optimization.

There are many techniques for increasing search ranking. All of these are summarized into three categories:

a) On-page:

- Ordered link structure

- For the reader, valuable and good quality content is written.

- A keyword with headings, text, and titles are included.

- To match the URL key values, cleaning, and formatting the web page.

- Merge social distributing elements with web page content

b) Off-page:

- In off-page SEO, increase the reputation of the website.

- It manages local listing and builds the link.

- On the website, guests' posts are linked with the target site.

c) Technical:

For this type of SEO, the goal is to improve the foundation and backend structure of the website. It is related to mobile-friendliness, indexing site architecture, security, and site speed.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM):

Some marketers take SEM as an umbrella term consisting of both paid and organic search engine marketing, but in this article, SEM will refer only to the paid approach.

SEM is an internet marketing paid method used to promote websites over the internet and gain an audience. In SEM, the website visitors are increased by making the websites to appear at top spots in different search engine results page. The main type of Paid SEM includes pay-per-click (PPC), contextual advertisements, and paid inclusions. The outspread of websites using SEM is through paid advertisements.

Google SERP

Activities of SEM:

1. Create ad copy

2. Keywords add

3. Budget manage

4. Observe value score

5. Modify campaigns based on performance

Similarities between SEO and SEM:

1. Increase traffic on the website

2. To uncover the search terms, use keyword research.

3. Constant optimization and testing require

4. Both help to appear our brand in the top of search results

5. Selected words are targeted

Differences between SEO and SEM:

Table showing differences and similarities between SEO and SMM

SEM also contains SMM (social media marketing).

How social media influences SEO and SEM:

social media apps icons

1. Increase in traffic to the website

Social media platforms(such as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter) can be used to increase traffic to their website by providing links in the bio section of social media profiles, posts, and chats. In this way, the page's followers click the link, and there is an increase in the traffic to the website.

2. Search social media profile for satisfaction

Presence on social media can be a source of confidence, belief, and satisfaction for potential customers or users. Users also search for information on social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter.

3. Recommendation of products and services

In SMM, we know the user, but we don't know what the user is thinking about what is his /her intention. It is seen that in social media platforms people share posts among their social circle creating awareness about the product/service by using hashtags, mentioning their friends and family members this results in the growth of the business through free advertisement reaching thousands of people via SMM.

4. Respond to queries on time

Through social media platforms, it is easy to respond to criticism, complaints, and queries on time and satisfy the buyer by responding on time about the product or service. This is a great way to improving customer relationships.

It is seen that SMM is preferred over PPC because PPC is paid, and SMM is free of cost, and it also increases traffic to your sites and provides more awareness to your product. But it does not mean you should not invest in PPC and SEO.

Which is better for business:

Long term SEO is the best method. SEO can be performed either on your own or by hiring an SEO expert. It is advised to check the ratings before hiring the SEO expert. Positive ratings mean credibility and trustworthiness.

Moreover, ask the expert personals to show you the "before and after" metrics of their current and former clients to access their abilities better. If you want the visibility of the search engine rankings of a website to grow fast, then it's good to create PPC or advertising campaign. If you are introducing a new website and want to have immediate search engine visibility, then creating a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or search engine advertising campaign is what you want to do.

Everyone wants to be on the first page of SERP, it is not wise to rank your business using only PPC campaigns without investing in a long-term strategy such as SEO. It takes more time and results are slower, but it is a more stable approach to growing and retaining traffic.

SEO takes more time to show results, but it is a long-term investment with less expensive strategy. It establishes credibility with you cannot gain from paid search engine campaigns alone.


For a new website, it is best to build traffic with SEO which is organic and a long term investment and traffic gained through organic SEO is sustainable unlike for paid Ads. For you to grow your traffic which leads to better sales for your business you need to strike a balance between using both SEM and SEO.

That's all folks.

What do you think about this article? Are there any more tips I should add to this? Leave me a comment

Don't forget to like, comment, or share.


Related Article


how to start a money-making blog


how to start a blog

Subscribe to Our Site

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page