Difference between SEO and SEM

Digital Marketing | May 21, 2021

Marketers even today are yet to conclude whether SEM is better for business marketing or should they be sticking with traditional SEO. However, if you are a business, you can apply both SEM and SEO to attract website visitors. The only difference here is SEO can get you free organic traffic, while SEM will require you to pay for each website visitor.

Difference between SEO and SEM


What are SEO and SEM?

The practice of optimizing your website to search engines is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). There’s a combination of technical SEO and on-page and off-page optimizations. Publishing keyword-rich content, matching user’s search intentions, and engaging in backlinking practices are some ways to optimize a website for search engines.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the practice of marketing a business using paid advertisements. These ads appear on search engine result pages. It is a mix of digital marketing practices like PPC ads to meet the conversion goals of a business.

What’s the difference between the two?

SEO is the practice of attracting website traffic organically. A company can scale its website visitors organically by practicing SEO where it does not have to pay money for each website visitor.

On the contrary, SEM refers to the digital marketing practice of increasing traffic to a website by increasing the website’s search engine visibility either through organic means or through paid ads. It is an umbrella that incorporates the best of both SEO and PPC.

Which is better?

SEO’s time effectiveness:

According to Ahrefs study, it takes up to two years for your website to rank on the first page of Google on average. The top-ranking pages trending on Google and other SERPs today were first published over three years ago. However, a new website cannot wait for three years to attract visitors. That is why people adopt a mixed approach where they combine SEO and PPC.

Time effectiveness of SEM:

It takes somewhere between three to nine months to get results from your PPC campaign. Compared to SEO, this is swifter and faster. Businesses can achieve tangible results from PPC campaigns in times as short as two months.

What’s more cost-effective?

People will fall for the charm of getting more traffic through SEO without paying anything, while PPC requires you to pay for your every visitor. However, with SEO, you are paying with time. As mentioned above, it can take years before a website ranks on the first page, while SEM is much faster. Both perspectives have advantages and disadvantages, so it comes down to what exactly does your business needs.

At ValueHits, you can browse through our different SEO Services Packages, or you can hire a PPC Expert for all your needs.

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Hardik Mody

Hardik Mody is a Senior Manager in Digital Marketing. He plans and coordinates the marketing activities of ValueHits, a full-service Digital Marketing Agency in Mumbai, India. With his experience and Expert knowledge in the field, he identifies potential customers and develops marketing campaigns. Also, he is efficient enough to meet the client’s requirements and well-organized in handling multiple tasks.