SEO vs. SEM: The Differences between Natural & Paid Search

SEO-vs-SEMSEO (Search Engine Optimization) encompasses a methodology covering several strategies, tactics and techniques purposely for adding up to the number of visitors to a particular website by raising its rank in the search result page of a specified search engine. This model is achieved by rewriting or adjusting websites information and architecture so as to achieve a high ranking.

On the other hand, SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is an online marketing system that covers promotion of online sites by improving their visibility in the search results page basically via paid advertising. Unlike SEO, SEM has a different module that can accommodate the search engine optimization to enhance the pay per click (PPC).

Getting to know them really helps you as an online business marketer in planning how to distribute and re-distribute your funds and other essential business resources. Here is the comparison of the two:

  1. Tactics

SEO TechniqueSearch engine marketing majorly rely on developing quick and clear advertisements as well as bidding prospective keywords that potential customers are likely to use in search engines. Search engine optimization works around their main objective goal of bringing the client’s businesses sale site hand in hand with search engines of their desire.

Google like other common search engines have their main concern at submitting top content to users while they try to explore easy to comprehend benefits to online users making it perfect for SEO to operate in a friendly environment.

Tactically, by showing results in search engines SEN through its Pay per Click (PPC) gives search results faster, making it the best search tool compared to SEO. Nevertheless, SEO is cheap and very cost effective even though it is much slower that SEM.

Up on choosing the best of the tactics, it’s crucial to evaluate your gaps and needs. Be keen to understand the marketing model that you can be able to sustain.

  1. Output

Debates have always arisen on which is great between these two parties. Some say SEO is better than SEM while others are in between confused. The fact is, none of them isn’t beneficial but of course their output varies. Due to technological advancement, there has risen software that can help you on average, calculate your e-spend on each of the two.

However, SEO has many tools and tricks that perhaps could be used by both to maximize the results from the search engines. Mind you the major focus of search engines is to keep the companies at the first rank on the search results. Seemingly, SEO appears to be more advanced and helpful than the SEM but their differences in terms of output are infinite. It is your work as a business person to determine whether you will use SEO or SEM or even both depending on what is moving you.

  1. Risks and Hidden Costs

Search engines like Google regularly update their algorithms, which are the arithmetic that run the engine. Therefore, a minor interference or change within the system can drop your site from the first ranks back to a number of pages, may be to position ten to twenty. This comes as a disadvantage on the side of the search engine optimization.

Hidden costs also arise when keywords especially that drives traffic to your site become popular in search engines more so those which rely on bidding strategy. As for the companies that use paid method of advertising, they happen to survive the course of additional and unexpected expenses for the keywords that become popular in the engines. However, the businesses that prefer to use the natural course/unpaid search engine optimization may be at a greater challenge of having to pay hundreds of funds more than the paid searches as a result of these fluctuations.

It’s thus important for any business personnel to be aware of the risks and costs involved in the process of online marketing.

  1. Traffic

website trafficSEM traffic is widely accepted such that most people use the search engines to get a solution to a problem, answers to their questions and even learn how to do some things. The reason why SEM traffic is the most considered as the important source of traffic is because of its high target by many users.

By clicking on a website or an ad, they are very likely to convert. This is why the significance of the sites and ads on display make SEM traffic a highly valuable commodity than SEO. By using search engines to advertise your sites and pages or ads, SEM has the capacity to send a lot of traffic to your site unlike SEO that only aims to offer better organic results.

Basing your criteria for choosing the best among the two, you may prefers to use SEM over SEO just because search engine marketing is better on sending traffic. But the questions you should be asking yourself are; for how long can you be able to sustain the project? Do you have the resources needed? And do you have the skills to run both of the two? If not, can you hire someone?

So before making your choice, know that there are many things to worry about and to put into consideration.

  1. Rules and Guidelines

One key advantage that SEO has is that it is guided by the guidelines and rules established by the Google team. If a website breaks the rules, Google penalizes them by removing them from the rankings. This helps in keeping search results as fair as possible and encourages a healthy completion.

  1. Cost

SEO-vs-SEM 2Search engine optimization has one of its biggest advantage being that is cost effective and very inexpensive. Also it is very accessible and sustainable such that you can be sure to pick exactly the much you spend on it.

SEM is a bit more expensive because it uses the Pay per Click model that becomes expensive to most users. PPC works on the basis of paying for the ad or website whenever it’s visited by someone or per every click by online users depending on the agreement.


Equivalent to other types of marketing, online marketing is also important in helping a business win more customers. As a result, the development of SEO and SEM can have a great impact on your company or business. Despite their differences, they all serve the same purpose, which is to help your business grow by increasing your customer base every minute that passes. Importantly, there is no harm that has been heard from the two, that people regret so much.

Depending on your preferences you may opt to use either of the two or use both in the online marketing system. In fact, a combination of the two would see your company go through maintaining and adding more clients. It’s a matter of choice!