SEO and SEM: Which is Better?

This is all about the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). When you search using a keyword on Google, there are two different things you can do once you’re on the search results page. One, you can click on an organic search result. Two, you can click on the paid search results.

Let me be very clear that both SEO and SEM are very similar advertising strategies. For example, you add your company to Google Maps. When somebody does a local search, your company pops up. Is this SEO or SEM? These two are closely interconnected and the best benefit is rephrasing SEO and SEM in the form of buying ads.

Paid Search Results

Paid search results are about advertisement. For example, on Google, advertisements appear on the right side of the page. They can also appear at the top as top three results of paid searches. Why would you want to go the long way and try to painfully and slowly climb up the organic search results, when you could do it using paid results? In the end, all that matters is return of investment. The question now is how much could you get back.

For a thousand dollar investment in Search Engine Marketing, which means buying ads, how much return of investment will this give you  compared to investing a thousand dollars in Search Engine Optimization?

Advantages and Disadvantages of SEM

What’s the difference?  In SEM, when you buy ads, you get results right away. But when you stop buying ads, the results are instantly down, too.  This can be very flexible because you are in control of both parts.  You control what you want to do like when you use AdText and the keywords you want to show the ads for.  It helps to have an SEO optimized web page as landing page as well, but we’ll see this later.

With SEM, you’re very fast with doing AdWords.  But it also means you don’t really build momentum.  You only get as much you pay for and you need to make that a return of investment that is worthwhile.

Search Engine Optimization

If you look at SEO, it works the other way around. It sometimes can be painfully slow to rank for a specific keyword. It could take some time before Google even considers you to rank for a specific keyword. When you start ranking and you keep with the SEO a little bit, you canget rankings that are very high, and you keep the rankings. Eventually, you’ll probably drop over time. But it’s not that when you stop spending you go all the way, you’re not deleted from the Google index.

Difference Between SEO and SEM

The difference is, with SEO you pay a much more expensive one-time fee but then it starts to slowly pay off and hopefully starts to just bring in a massive amount of traffic.  With SEM, or buying AdWords, you get traffic right away, but this traffic is always proportional to what you are spending even if the ads are very cheap.  It’s very hard to go off the hook with AdWords.

What’s the Best Strategy to Use?

What will be a good strategy to use here?  I have said before that even for AdWords, you need to have an SEO optimized site.  If you are using AdWords, Google checks your site to see if it is relevant for the keywords you want to rank for in AdWords.  If that is the case, then you get shown and you get the ads cheap.  If this is not the case then you are kind of irrelevant to the topic.  You’re not going to rank high for the keyword you would want or you have to pay an awful lot for it.  It does help to have an SEO optimized page. You should pick your keywords well and it should be relevant to the topic.  Therefore, the top strategy is a combination of both SEO and SEM.

Using AdWords

When you need to react very fast, you need to be in control. It doesn’t matter if it costs a little bit more, just use AdWords. You can also use AdWords to test your keywords and see how much traffic there is for a specific keyword. You can use it to test your Ad Text for specific ads. You can compare click through rate. You can set up very nice experiments with Google AdWords, which has different naming page with different AdText. With AdWords, there is an advantage which shows just three or four lines. You can totally control this and make very good statistics.

That is what you can use AdWords for, like if you want to quickly react to something or if you want to build traffic for something.

Using SEO for the Long Term

For the long term, I suggest you use SEO. SEO might be a little bit more expensive in the beginning.  It depends on the time frame which you used to calculate your return of investment.  If you calculate that within the week, SEM will always win over SEO since you cannot earn it back in a very short time with SEO.

In order to analyze what SEO and SEM have done, a good time frame would be from six months to a year. Also, it’s important to analyze this project wise. The SEO will need to take some time. You can even leave for a few weeks or months between what you are doing and your analysis. The longer your time frame is, the more likely that SEO will come up as a winner in the end. It is continuously making traffic at no extra cost.

Using Common Back Links

You can also use the synergy between SEO and SEM. Using SEM, you can increase your SEO with the help of common back links. You want to show Google that people are active on your site. You can show that to Google by jamming traffic to your site, by having people leave comments, sharing links in Facebook and other social sites, talk about your service in other social sites. It’s actually a great way of building links to your sites by using paid ads. You should have specific landing pages for these as well.

Another good idea is to make a general ad and send traffic to your main domain.  It is much better to have targeted ads and to have specific landing pages on your website and send them to those pages.  It’s good for click through rate and it also helps with conversion.  When people go to a site and click on a specific ad and they get to a site that delivers this specifically, then the conversion rate is much higher.

Building Website Links and Traffic

You can do an experiment yourself and see the best way that works for you.  Make little experiments with AdWords on your blogs or sites.  It works very well.  You can find out really quick what you need to do. So, how then can you build links to your website and build traffic?  The best way to do this is to have specific landing pages which you are using for link building.  I could imagine a site with a video with a header, and under it are some important links like “Register now!” or “Share on Facebook” or “Share on Twitter”.  See what this does, you might get a lot of back links for a campaign and this would be very good for your SEO.  It might even make your own campaign cheaper.

All these are my thoughts why I think SEO is better than SEM.  You can use SEM as well to boost your SEO and make these two work together.  It’s a very good tandem. Thanks for reading!

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