Last Updated: 2 years ago by BrodNeil

Search Engine Marketing or SEM used to be the bigger umbrella that covers both paid advertising and Search Engine Optimization or SEO.  Since both have become complex over time, they are now being referred to differently.   

SEM is when you pay search engines, such as Google, to show your ad (website content) in the search results.  As an advertiser, you have to pay Google every time someone clicks your ad.  Such advertising used in SEM are often referred to as paid search advertising, paid search ads, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and sponsored ads.     

SEO, on the other hand, is free, but you have to earn your spot in the search results.  With SEO, you need to improve your site and your contents in order to augment your organic search ranking.  Now there are also two types of SEO – organic and local.  They are both unpaid and your contents need to be relevant in order to appear in the SERP.  The only difference is that with the local SEO, you focus on getting your company listing to appear in the google maps result. 

Which is better – SEM or SEO? 

Both SEM and SEO have their own advantages and drawbacks.  

So which is better for your brandSEM or SEO?

Depending on your circumstances, your needs, and your resources, you can decide which is best to utilize.  While SEO is free, it takes time to get a good ranking on SERPs.  SEM, on the other hand, is paid,  but it can quickly bring you to your target audience and build up your brand

You may want to consider paid advertising for immediate results on the following circumstances:

  • If your business is new
  • If you are launching a new product or service
  • If you are making a time-sensitive offer
  • If you want to test your product, service, idea, or a new marketing tactic
  • If your website is not SEO-ready

SEO can also be used under the following needs and circumstances:

  • If you want consistent results over time
  • If you want to increase your website’s value
  • If cost-per-click is high in your industry
  • If you have an established website 
  • If you are already doing well in organic ranking

Again, it all depends on your needs and the situation you are in.  You can always implement both paid advertising and SEO to increase your online visibility and increase your sales more effectively.