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SEO Or SEM- Which Provides Best Value?

SEO Or SEM- Which Provides Best Value?

Today, all kind of organizations are realizing the importance of online marketing especially search engines. People or customers are more likely to end up website of their choice through search engines rather than directly visiting it.  Most of the organizations using so many ways to drive traffic but two important methods are Search engine optimization- SEO and Search engine marketing-SEM. However, there is still a big question whether to use SEO or SEM to get in front of prospective clients? Each has its respective benefits, costs, strategy. In order to explore more first let’s have look on how SEO or SEM is different, how they work and their advantages.


What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization can be best described as strategies and tactics used to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engines. In simple words, it is the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial or natural search results from search engines.

SEO involves creating and publishing excellent content, relevant keywords, link building, improving site navigation etc.

The Advantage of SEO

SEO’s biggest advantage is that it can be very affordable and you can pick exactly how much you want to spend on it. SEO is very open-ended and accessible to businesses of all sizes.

Another advantage of SEO is that it is guided by rules and quality guidelines established by Search engines. If a website is blatantly breaking the rules then Search engines like Google can penalize them, removing them from the rankings. This can help keep the results fair and encourage healthy competition.

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

SEM is the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing ads on search engines. It is also known as PPC ads. Ads in a successful SEM campaign will be shown to those consumers specifically looking for your products or services, resulting in a higher conversion rate.

PPC can be done with the Google AdWords platform, as well as Microsoft’s Bing Ads platform. Each time a user searches for a keyword or search phrase that companies have bid on, an ad that companies have created will appear somewhere on the page, usually on the top or right side. If a user clicks their ads, they will pay a set price for this click that has been determined in advance.

The Advantages of SEM

For any new business or startups, find PPC or SEM more helpful in appearing on the first page of search results with a low cost and reasonable ROI. If competition is very low, it may be very easy and relatively inexpensive to appear in the top few ads, increasing the chances that consumers will see and click those links instead of the organic ones.

Even for established business PPC advertising can still prove very advantageous. PPC can add some consistency, unlike organic results; ensuring companies are receiving a steady flow of visitors and regularly appearing on the front page.

One of the major benefits of PPC advertising is that results are instantaneous. As soon as ads are clicked to go live, they can start driving qualified traffic to your website. If you’re looking to quickly boost the number of leads and sales for your company, PPC is a great option.

Finally, for even the highest ranking companies, PPC can be advantageous simply because of its low cost and high level of exposure. Overall, PPC is a good investment for businesses because of its ease of use, low cost, high ROI, and ability to help businesses that have not yet been exposed to organic search results. Combined with SEO to form SEM, this can boost your website’s visibility far above what SEO alone could do.

SEO vs SEM: Which is Better for Website Traffic?

Many marketers argue which one is better than the other. SEOMoz recently published an article by the team at Enquisite quantifying the effectiveness of SEO vs PPC. Some important points of the article that organic results are 8.5x more likely to be clicked on than paid search results! This is because searchers still learning the difference between organic and paid results and recognizing that organic results are more trustworthy.

Even though PPC still hold a slight edge in conversion rates as paid search results are 1.5x more likely to convert click thus from organic results. So after these results, we can conclude that “the opportunity from organic search is 5.6x more than that of paid search.”

But in some case, PPC ads wins over organic search like if you are a startup then PPC is a great way to build brand awareness and increase visibility. PPC takes less time than SEO in providing desired results but it would be not a great deal to work only with PPC.

It is always advisable to work with both together as both complements each other not oppose. They both have the same goal of improving company’s presence online and increasing customer conversions. The difference is mostly in the scope of work or strategy. The end goal of either strategy should be to make company more money and help it grow.


When it comes to choosing the best tactic, it is important to evaluate company’s specific needs, but be sure to fully understand the differences and requires research and expectations for meeting company goals online. It’s also essential to recognize that specific industries or businesses may see better results from prioritizing SEO over SEM, or vice versa. You can’t rely on only one for your business goals. You simply won’t know what works best for your business without exploring and testing both options before settling on a “winner.”

There is 1 comment

  • 3 years ago

    Shreya Arora   /   Reply

    Great article! You raised some very valid points. Particularly when it comes to the amount of time it takes to see results, we often recommend running both SEO and SEM campaigns simultaneously (when the client is looking for a quick result that is).

    Another interesting development in the battle between SEO and SEM is that 4-5 years ago CTR for the top organic search result was estimated around 70-80%, whereas today, this estimate has dropped to around 30%. There are a number of likely reasons for this shift, but nonetheless it’s important to remember that organic search results aren’t the be all and end all they once were.

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