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SEO vs SEM – Complete Guide For The Best ROI

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In this article, you will better understand the SEO and SEM concepts and you will read answers to; what is SEO? what is SEM? What are the pros and cons of SEO and SEM? Which one should I invest my money and time? In the changing world, what are the latest SEO and SEM trends of 2021?

Let’s start with the definitions.

What is SEO?

SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” is the collection of methods for optimizing a website to get visitors from organic (natural) traffic from search engine results pages.

Although you are not paying for organic search engine traffic, the search engine optimization process can incur costs depending on the competitiveness of your target market.

The goal of SEO is to attract relevant visitors to your website who are interested in your products or services.

However, optimization is only part of the equation for getting targeted organic traffic. The other part is getting higher amounts of this traffic by using targeted multiple, relevant keywords.

What is SEM?

Search engine marketing is a way to convert relevant traffic from search engines by purchasing paid or sponsored ad listings. SEM usually stands for PPC or pay-per-click advertising slash marketing.

Although there are many PPC platforms in the search and social arena, the most popular and successful option to date is Google Adwords.

The purpose of SEM is to help advertisers gain visibility in search engines and drive the right kind of traffic without having to wait. To be successful in SEM, it is important to have a strong and dynamic SEM strategy to get the best return on investment (ROI).

SEO vs SEM Comparison

When the topic of SEO and SEM arises, some experts argue that SEO is the best way to deliver higher quality at a higher cost compared to SEM. However, it’s not that simple.

Every business has different and unique needs. For example, your small business may not have a large advertising budget and also lack the resources needed to do effective SEO.

To gain clarity on what your business should choose and why, you should focus on building a solid online marketing strategy that suits you best. Because when you have the right marketing strategy at hand, you know what your target customer is looking for and also the best way to reach them.

It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is or how old or new it is. Ultimately, what matters is the type of audience you will follow and how you reach them.

So let’s go ahead and examine the pros and cons of SEO and SEM. It will give us a better insight into our expectations and the channel you need to explore for your business.

SEO: Pros and Cons

Every online marketer swears by search engine optimization and effectiveness. Before the famous Google Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird update, SEO was rich in a lot of black hat or unethical marketers. But things are not that easy anymore. Google upgraded the game and now it’s all about quality and the value you can provide. Here’s how optimizing your website for search engines and getting organic traffic can help you:

Brand Awareness

If your customers don’t know your brand, they don’t. By building brand awareness, you not only affect the bottom line of your business but also improve long-term prospects. The goal is to catch your potential customer’s mind. SEO vs SEM brand awareness social media promotion, offline marketing, etc. There are various ways to increase a brand’s brand awareness. However, search engine optimization has its place when informing your target customers of your products/services.

Actually How?

Putting you in front of your preferred audience when searching for your target keywords. Words people use to search in Google are more than just words. A gateway to your business. By ranking for these keywords, you get more visibility. When people see your website in search results over and over, it adds to brand awareness. Use the following steps to find the most relevant keywords:

Step 1: Make a list of seed keywords that you will use to find the right keywords you want to optimize for your website.

Step 2: Once you have a bunch of seed keywords, take action to create a comprehensive list of potential keyword phrases you want to target using a keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner.

Step 3: Analyze and select keywords based on competition volume (both quality and quantity) and monthly searches. Strong branding on the internet offers you the opportunity to connect with your target audience by providing the information they are looking for. The content you post on your blog, for example, can help you build a solid relationship with potential clients or customers who want to learn more about a topic related to your niche.

People can use commercial search terms or other information search queries related to your niche market. When they find your content, they immediately see you as a market authority. Which indirectly has a positive effect on branding.

Increased Trust and Reliability

Google works hard to make sure that only the best websites appear first. And every loyal Google user knows that the big G won’t disappoint them in delivering the best results. This is very reliable in terms of service.

By relying on Google, people also trust websites that rank high on results pages. Being on the 10th page of SERPs may not be much for your site. However, when you click on the first page, you automatically earn “trust” and “trust points” from search users.

Expectations looking for your service or product will trust your site more easily and find it more reliable when they see it in organic search results. And since many people are used to ignoring sponsored ads and getting used to organic search listings, it’s easier to stay away from others. Also, if you’re a business that is heavily dependent on user reviews, appearing on the SERPs with a bunch of positive reviews can be very helpful in increasing your company’s credibility.

To increase your chances of getting a page from Google, make sure you do the following:

  1. Use relevant keywords in the URL to describe the content of the page.
  2. Use the correct keywords in your page’s meta description and make sure it is attractive enough for users to click on your site.
  3. Use your main keywords in the H1 tag of your page.
  4. Finally, use your main keywords in the first few paragraphs of the page with long-tail keywords.

More traffic

It goes without saying, but you can drive lots of targeted, ready-to-buy traffic to your website using SEO.

Your business website may be selling the most niche product, but if it manages to rank for the right keywords, you’ll get traffic for a long time. The best part about organic search traffic is that it takes time to dry.

In other words, once you do what you find difficult to enumerate, it doesn’t take much effort to maintain it. The most reliable way to increase search engine traffic is to create the great content your viewers are looking for. For example, if you are a pest control company, you can write lots of quality blog posts to get rid of pests.

The idea is to educate your expectations and direct them to buy from you. This is exactly where SEO intersects with content marketing.

SEO is all about content marketing today. It’s about how you can use content to grow your brand and educate your target expectations on this.

Here are ways to implement content marketing for better SEO results:

  1. Find different people on your team to create unique content. Not only does this allow you to create a variety of content related to your niche, but it also gives you an opportunity to order multiple keywords.
  2. Before creating any content, make sure you know your brand, understand your target audience and are aware of your marketing goal. This helps you create well-rated content and help your potential customers.
  3. Focus on producing content that is worthwhile rather than just creating content for it. Understand that even if you operate in an uncertain area, Google will always prefer higher quality content than quantity. Unless you’re posting superficial content that lacks value, it doesn’t matter if you post less.
  4. Publish data-driven content that offers genuine advice backed by evidence. Your content will be more reliable and valuable if it combines real data, as well as people and search engines.
  5. Answer the burning questions of your target audience with your content. This is a proven way to deliver quality content that ranks well in search engines. Your audience will love your content because you will address their pain points. It also attracts backlinks from established websites due to the evergreen nature of the content.

Generating traffic using SEO isn’t rocket science, but it can seem complicated, especially when you’re not sure what to do. If you want to generate more traffic with SEO, contact us. We’ve helped many small businesses to achieve the targeted sales with low costs, and we can help you too.

Low Costs

If there is one thing you don’t have to worry about when doing SEO, you need to invest a little for good results. Yes, there are certain costs of running a successful SEO campaign, but they are much lower.

The reason for this is simple:
The brand awareness you can create with SEO and the type of laser targeted traffic you can use will cost you with other marketing methods. So, while SEO isn’t cheap, it’s reliable enough to justify the costs. This makes it “the winner”.

Better Return on Investment

Paid or sponsored ads usually charge for a click, while SEO doesn’t require you to pay for impressions or clicks. However, keep in mind that quality SEO is not completely free.

Depending on the target market you are in, you will need to invest time and money to get the desired results. If you are not an SEO expert then you have to work with a reputable SEO company. Having said that, search engine optimization can give you a better return on your investment compared to traditional marketing or advertising.

It allows you to fine-tune your efforts and improve your results over time without losing too much. Moreover, even with a little patience, in the long term, it yields a better return than pay per click.

Here’s how you can improve your SEO ROI:

Although the quality of your content is important, the quantity aspect cannot be ignored. For better SEO results, make sure you post longer pieces of content with at least 1,000 words.

Make sure your website design is simple and easy to navigate. Because having a solid website structure and architecture is crucial for SEO.

And add relevant images to your content to visually appeal to visitors and improve SEO.

Higher Sustainability

A business that survives in the long term needs an equally reliable marketing strategy. Being a sustainable tool can prove to be a tremendous benefit in getting targeted visitors to your product page or company blog. And SEO is just that.

While SEO does not guarantee that you will continue to get traffic on autopilot for a long time, it gives you the peace of mind that does not come with PPC marketing. Once you rank for a particular keyword, you can continue to do the necessary page SEO to maintain your rank.

SEO, being more sustainable, can help you dominate the market segment without burning a hole in the wallet.

Higher Quality of Click-through Rate

Placing a sponsored list on search engines may require you to invest a lot of money. However, it is not guaranteed that your ad will receive more clicks.


Because the biggest contender for a PPC ad in SERPs is not other advertisements, but organic search lists. As more users tend to click on organic search results, you will have a higher clickthrough rate. SEO vs PPC: Sure, your CTR depends on several factors, but your chances of getting more clicks on your organic listing are definitely higher than on a sponsored site.

So by focusing on improving the performance of your search lists, you get a bigger piece of the traffic pie for a longer period of time.

Broad Reach

No matter how well you know your target audience, it is not easy to predict everything they will go into search engines to find you. The search engine queries Google receives every day are billions of dollars.

This means that by focusing only on some keywords, you’re leaving a big chunk. When you focus on SEO, you have a wider reach. The more quality content you post on your website, the more people can find your site. The more people you find your site, the more traffic you will get to your product or service page. Unlike PPC, you are not limited by the budget or the number of keywords you target.

Competitiveness Advantage

An experienced SEO expert can tell you that ranking your website in search engines is not a walk in the park. It doesn’t happen overnight and takes a lot of focused effort to see results. If done right, this factor can work in your favor, giving you a strong strategic advantage.

You don’t have to worry about “buying” competitors to get to the top, as it’s an obvious barrier to entry for anyone trying to beat you once installed. The only option is pay-per-click ads, but then it’s not the same as getting a higher rank on the SERPs. Again, this assumes you are taking the right steps and have enough patience to solidify your rank in the top search results.

Do the advantages of SEO sound great?

You would think SEO is the obvious winner against the SEM debate. Like any online marketing strategy, SEO has its own drawbacks. Here are some things you can try if you choose to focus.

It Takes Time

SEO can be slow compared to PPC, especially if you are not an established player. Once you’ve decided which keywords to rank for and all that hard work you’ve done, you need to wait for the traffic to come. Depending on the number of keywords you target and the content you post, it can take weeks or even months.

Can Be Competitive

For a business that is just starting to experiment with SEO, the results of the selected keywords may be dominated by established players who are almost unlikely to be dethroned. This is important to rethink your targeted keywords and go for long-tail keywords with less competition.

May Require a Firm Content Strategy

Posting quality content regularly can help you drive targeted organic search traffic. However, it is not easy to create great content that ranks high in search engines. Developing strong content assets can be difficult if your business doesn’t have the necessary resources. This affects your ability to have a study content strategy.

Needs Regular Backlinks

The days when you could set a bunch of unrelated backlinks to your web page and show search engine results pages are gone. Today, link building goes hand in hand with the type of content you post. But it doesn’t stop there. Your business also needs to reach out to other websites regularly to get valuable feedback. While every link you get is important, quality link building doesn’t. You will need expert help to fix this.

SEM: Pros and Cons

SEM (or PPC) is one of the most widely used form of online marketing method. However, your business has both pros and cons to know. Before we get to the cons, let’s examine the pros.

Reach the top

The area at the top of the SERPs is the area where most of the attention is focused. One of the biggest pros of paid ads is that you can get your target audience’s attention by placing yourself above the target page. Regardless of whether the user chooses to click on the ad or not, they don’t miss out on seeing the ad.

However, as long as you have a well-prepared ad related to the keyword, you may see good results. Trying to rank high in organic search results takes a lot of time and effort with the help of SEO. So if you have a moolah to bid on the right keywords using PPC, you can literally pay up to the top of the SERPs.

More Control

Sponsored listings or PPC ads give you more control over your results. You are not limited in any way. By fine-tuning and testing every little detail of the ad, you’ll be able to improve the overall performance of your campaign. Unlike SEO, the marketing messages you want to deliver can be more persuasive and introductory.

You are not only controlling how this message is created, you are also controlling where you want to take your potential customer. Each element of the ad can be customized to ensure you get the highest click-through rate.

Showcase Products Better

Organic search lists contain plain text and nothing else.

So if you’re selling a product from your e-commerce website, you don’t have the option to display the product image to attract the potential buyer. This can affect your product’s overall conversion rate and lead to a low click-through rate.

However, things get better when using Google’s Product List PPC Ads. These visual shopping ads allow you to show an image of the product in the ad list. Because of the visual element in the list, the user is more likely to click on the product, which can increase your clickthrough rate and conversions as a result.

Increase Brand Visibility

When trying to drive traffic to your website, it is crucial that only relevant people see your listing. Otherwise, tons of visitors are useless. While doing SEO, you may not be able to find or get the right people to visit your website.

However, it is not the same in PPC ads. Your ads are laser-targeted for people who are actually searching for your product or service. Being seen by people who are interested in your niche or brand helps you increase your brand’s visibility. It indirectly affects the amount of work received. Many people may search for your product in the future, even if they’re not clicking your ads right away.

Either way, paid ads will be of great help in getting ahead of your target audience and filtering out anyone who isn’t part of it.

Control on Your Budget

Investing in search engine marketing or pay-per-click ads is different from investing in SEO. Because when you put money into SEM, you basically control your budget at every step. By having strong control over the budget, you won’t lose a lot of money in the long term. PPC offers you the ability to fix your daily budget depending on how much you want to spend. Since you can start with a small amount, you don’t have to make a big investment before testing the waters. Once you know that a particular campaign is giving you a good return on investment, you can increase your budget and increase your ad spend without worrying about the losses incurred.

Display Laser-targeted Ads

It’s easier to reach potential customers when you know you don’t allow the wrong people to see your ad. However, PPC ads are not limited to just one type of targeting that helps you adjust your ad campaigns for the best results.

When talking about pay-per-click marketing, the most talked-about targeting option is keyword targeting. However, if you know your target audience well enough, you can go beyond that and target ads based on:

  • Time of day
  • Day of the week
  • Geographic location
  • Language
  • Devices used

For example, if you’re doing a holiday sale for people in the UK at your e-commerce store, you can tailor your ad exactly to them. This level of targeting is very useful for time-bound or location-bound businesses. If done right, targeted PPC ads can generate a huge return on investment.

Achieve Fast, Measurable Results

Anyone who promises fast results with SEO is a snake seller. Because SEO is a process that requires a certain amount of patience and commitment. Building a certain level of organic visibility takes time, no matter how good you are. However, with a properly constructed PPC campaign, results can be analyzed and any conversion-related problems can be rectified in no time.

It shouldn’t be surprising to see great results from a PPC campaign that has only been running for a few weeks. If you are on a budget and getting quick results with PPC is not only possible, it can be done completely.

Get Real-Time Feedback

PPC is extremely helpful in getting constructive feedback from your target audience. By running a PPC campaign you get instant feedback that doesn’t take any guesswork.

This kind of agility cannot be achieved with SEO. Because agility requires speed, and paid search lists have it. For example, before launching a new product or service, a business can create a simple landing page to get feedback from the target audience. Or he could do a poll asking a bunch of target questions. Or it can go a step further and create a minimum fit product to see how target users interact with it.

With a little creativity, PPC ads can help gather real-time feedback that can be used to improve the final product or idea.

Split Test for better ROI

As we all know, one of the main disadvantages of traditional advertising is the lack of data. It’s hard to know what’s working and what’s not.

For example, you can publish the best ad in a newspaper or magazine, but you cannot access critical data about the ad’s performance.

Search engine marketing allows you to separate test or A / B different ads against each other. You can test every small element of the ad, as well as the landing page. Everything can be tested in real-time with the help of PPC ads, from the color of the immediate action button to the images.

Accessing such important data will not only help you get a better ROI from your PPC campaign but also provides the information needed to achieve better results in other marketing areas such as SEO, email marketing, etc.

Experience More Stability

There are many different updates in the SEO world from time to time. This is to ensure that users see only the top search engine results for their queries. However, due to these frequent changes, your website’s position in organic search results may be affected. And sometimes, you may lose the rank you created over a period of time.

CPC ads are more stable and predictable. Even if there are any changes or updates, they won’t make a big difference in the way you run your ads. They are thin and synchronized with the needs of advertisers. This means managing a PPC ad campaign and increasing ROI in the midst of any changes.

Create Low Cost Offers

When running a PPC ad, the cost of a potential customer depends on multiple factors. However, if you manage to get the basics right and optimize the campaign effectively, the leads you get from your PPC campaign can be high quality and low cost.

When working in a small area with no major competition, the cost of a customer drops even more. For example, if you are an interior designer looking for more jobs in your area, you may find it easier to get ahead with PPC ads, given you are targeting the right keywords.

Now, search engine marketing, or PPC advertising, has its drawbacks that you should know if you are planning to make a breakthrough.

Can Be Expensive

Unless it’s on eBay or Amazon, PPC can prove to be an expensive affair. You may not feel it pinch at first, but overtime costs continue to increase. If you are not testing enough with your ads, you may lose some of your advertising budget without a large return. Focusing only on the wrong keywords or markets can create a huge hurdle in your wallet if you strain your advertising budget.

Continuous Investment Needed

While organic search isn’t free, it doesn’t require you to constantly feed your advertisements with money. Pay-per-click advertising campaigns need constant investment to keep running and running. As long as you continue to spend more money, you will continue to get results.

If your campaign is successful and provides good ROI, it makes sense to invest regularly. But not when you lose money and put more in the hope of just turning the tables. That’s why it’s always important to consider your purchasing costs.

Allows Your Competitors to Review Your Campaign

Yes, pay-per-click ads are not everyone’s cup of tea. However, it doesn’t take much time for competitors who want to copy your ad campaign or understand how your sales funnel works. Your ads, keywords, landing page, strategy, nothing is hidden when you run a PPC ad.

Outdoors, ready to be analyzed and scrutinized by any of your competitors. This may not have a huge impact on the performance of your campaign, but it does. Remember, making a campaign successful requires a variety of skills. Everything needs professional help, from tracking offers to editing ad copy.

If you’re new to PPC and don’t want to lose money on your campaign, we can help you start a PPC campaign with a high ROI at Mudimedia.

SEO vs SEM: Which One Should You Choose?

Regardless of the size of your business, it has a unique audience. You may be able to reach them with SEO or SEM, but results may vary depending on your business and marketing goals. For some businesses, SEO makes complete sense when PPC is out of the question. And for some SEO it may not seem appropriate compared to the advantages of PPC.

If you’re an accounting agency that needs to start a local business and isn’t in a hurry to do so, creating and executing a solid SEO strategy can deliver great results in long term. However, if you are a lawyer competing with other legal entities in the competitive SEO space, you may be better off buying PPC ads for better results.

It is important to analyze your current goals and how they relate to your overall business goal. You should create an online marketing strategy that guides you towards using the right method.

Balancing SEO and SEM

If you are a business that really cares about building a strong online presence and getting better returns both in the short and the long term, you should balance SEO and SEM together. Your SEO efforts can hide the shortcomings of PPC and vice versa. By incorporating both marketing methods into your business, you may have to get the best of both worlds.

Here’s how you can do that:

  • Collect conversion-related data from your PPC campaign and use it to better convert your organic search visitors. Also, keywords that work for you in PPC are best for optimizing your website, so it makes sense to use them for SEO purposes. Your PPC campaign will end, but your rankings for the same keyword will remain for a while.
  • Work on both paid ads and organic search lists to double your traffic by increasing your visibility on SERPs. This gives great results especially when you’re targeting competitive keywords that need a larger PPC budget.
  • Use keywords that are too expensive to invest in or don’t generate a lot of traffic for SEO. That way, your PPC efforts will only be directed to keywords with a better ROI.
  • Well-performing ad text can be used in the meta description of your website’s organic listing to increase the clickthrough rate. Also, the organic traffic you provide to your content can be directed to proven and highly converting PPC landing pages.
  • Test different keywords with PPC ads before investing in improving search engine rankings. The goal of running small test PPC campaigns for these keywords is to find out if they are worth optimizing.
  • Actively in both SEO and SEM, you can reach more potential customers and create more brand awareness. Ultimately results in higher visibility and better returns.


Knowing your business and its long-term goals are important for creating a fruitful online marketing strategy. But, by focusing on SEO and SEM, you’re automatically taking a better approach than your competitors focusing on just one of these powerful methods.

Of course, this differs from the business world to the company, but if you want to increase your chances of success, it makes sense to have an optimal search strategy that includes both SEO and SEM.

Please comment below, which one you use more and why?

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