SEO VS SEM: What Is the Difference and which is Right for My Brand?

SEO is a substantial tactic for brands that want to grow their online visibility by driving website traffic. SEO can be a difficult approach to regulate if you are not aware of how to compare or combine it with SEM.

They both sound similar, but actually, these are two differ in their approaches to becoming visible on the SERPs (search engine results pages).

Till now, only advertising companies understand the difference between the two better. But, now you can also understand and clear your definition and value of each. Through this blog, you will get the answer to the following questions:

  1. What is search marketing?
  2. What is SEM?
  3. What is SEO?
  4. Difference between SEM and SEO?
  5. Which is better for my brand?
  1. What is search marketing?

Search marketing is a tactic that helps a brand get attention by coming into sight on search engine results pages (SERPs). It includes increase search visibility, improves search rankings, and drive more website traffic via search.

Search marketing categories are:

SEM – To appear in search it uses PAID strategies

SEO – To appear in search it uses ORGANIC strategies

Many advertising companies offer top SEO services and sem services to businesses. So, to avoid any confusion, clarify the terminology first.


  1. What is SEM?

To some extent, you understand the difference between both the terms but knows it in detail. Have a glance.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is often considered a part of search marketing. SEM uses PAID tactics to gain visibility in SERPs. A paid SEM strategy includes setting up and optimizing ads. Along with setting a budget that pays for the placement of ads.

This strategy refers to paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) marketing.

For this strategy, Google Ads formerly called Google Adwords is used as the search provider most commonly. With this plan, brands conduct keyword research and build campaigns that aim for the best keywords for their industry, products, or services. When users looking for those keywords, the custom ads appear at the top or bottom of SERPs. The brand charges with each click on the ad

For more SEM tips and basic strategies, take assistance from top advertising companies.


  1. What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the method of constantly enhancing a website to rank in the organic, non-paid SERPs. Google uses 200+ ranking signals in its algorithm that can help a brand increase its search rankings.


The four core pillars of SEO are – 

  • On-page SEO – On-page SEO is an optimization of individual website pages.
  • Off-page SEO – Off-page SEO is off-site actions aimed at improving website ranking.
  • Technical SEO – It aims to make technical changes that help search engines. It effectively scans website content, evaluates, and indexes it.
  • Content – Google’s prime ranking factor is content. In the absence of unique content, you will struggle to rank in top spots.

Several search engine optimization companies provide their top SEO services to startups to large companies.


  1. Difference between SEM and SEO?
  • SEM search placements include an Ad designation. SEO does not. Search results that appear of SEM or SEO look different on SERPs. Through SEM tactics, paid ads receive place and recognize as an ad, whereas SEO does not mark as organic SEO in the search results.
  • SEM search results have ad extensions. SEM search results have ad extensions like callouts, additional links, and phone numbers. Instead, SEO results may appear with promoted snippets in search.
  • You pay each time a user clicks on an SEM result. You pay nothing when a user clicks on an SEO result but, SEM results are payable. Each time a user clicks on the result, your brand needs to pay some charge. Therefore, a brand must have a financial plan for continually displaying SEM ads and using PPC lead generation. On the flip side, on an organic search result, a brand does not require to pay charges when a user clicks.
  • SEM results show to a select target audience. SEO results do not. To connect with a select audience, a brand needs to drive successful SEO and SEM strategies. Through SEM, you can only designate that target audience. Through SEM, you can select what audiences want to see in the search results by assigning filters based on location, age, habits, income, and more. Through SEO, you cannot particularly opt who will see your search results.
  • The impact of SEM is immediate. SEO takes time. Through paid SEM ads, you can initiate to put your results in front of audiences in few clicks. As soon as a campaign shoots, your ads start showing in SERPs. You can turn ads on to enhance visibility or turn them off to stop displaying. SEO takes months in implementation before a brand begins to rank on search engines.
  • For testing, SEM is better than SEO. Because you can immediately turn SEM paid ads off and on, it’s a huge strategy for testing. You can quickly revise your ad copy, target new audiences, and change landing page content to test your advanced tactics. This adaptability allows you to see changes in your plans right away. You cannot achieve this through SEO, as it would get more time to make changes and monitor differences in results.
  • SEO adds value over time. SEM does not. SEM works actively only as long as you pay for your results to show. Once you turn off your ads, your SEM strategy is over. But, SEO is the opposite. With time, SEO grows and compounds and leaves lasting results.
  • SEO has a higher click-through rate (CTR) than SEM. If you can get to the top. The initial few organic searches typically have the highest CTRs. So if you can get to the top, you can likely exceed SEM ads. But if you come into sight on the second page of results or lower, through SEM you can probably get more clicks.

For better services, you can take assistance from any top SEO services company or advertising company near you.

  1. Which is better for the brand?

It depends upon:

  1. a) What your specific goal is. If you want to drive quick traffic to a sale, test a new offer, or kick start a slow month, SEM should be your choice. If you like to drive long-term growth, SEO may be preferable.
  2. b) Your existing performance. If you already have solid organic visibility, SEM could be a great way to supplement this with extra visibility.
  3. c) Your margins. In some cases, once you consider high click costs and low product margins, it doesn’t make sense to run SEM. In cases like this, SEO is likely the channel to drive many solid returns. It is worth estimating the cost-per-click that you require to pay with the PPC keyword tool. To understand what your conversion rate would require being to make a profit.
  4. d) Consider the lifetime value of your customer. When using SEM, you can get that higher LTV (Customer Lifetime Value) gives higher click costs. But a lower LTV may mean that SEO comes up as a more effective strategy.

 Related Read:- Tips to find Right SEO Service for Your small & medium Enterprises

To summarize!

Undoubtedly, after reading the above write-up, you understand that SEO and SEM are different channels and can’t use together.
All you need, to know the purpose of both the search marketing strategies and figure out how to use both.
Before choosing SEO and SEM strategies, you need to check out your budget and business goals and your method of promotion.
But if you feel like approaching any search engine optimization company or advertising company, go for it.

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