SEO vs. SEM: Which Is Best for Your Business?

SEO vs. SEM: Which Is Best for Your Business?


Content Writer: Lauren Snyder Lauren Snyder Content Marketing Coordinator

What do NASA, NFL and SUV all have in common? They’re acronyms!

Digital marketing also uses several acronyms, but sometimes they can be a little confusing if you don’t understand what they mean.

In this blog, we’ll be breaking down the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) as well as discussing which is best for your business.

BRB…just kidding, let’s get started!

Breaking Down SEO and SEM

You may have heard the acronyms SEO and SEM used often when talking about your digital marketing, but do you know what they actually mean?

Before we dive into the deep end of the SEO and SEM pool, let me explain what they mean:

What Is SEO?

SEO is the process of optimizing websites with the goal of receiving organic (natural) traffic or gaining more visitors from the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

You want to attract visitors to your website that are interested in your business, and SEO is how you can do that!

There are also different types of SEO, including organic and local. Read all about the difference here.

What Is SEM?

On the other hand, SEM is a form of online marketing that uses paid advertising and optimization to increase website ranking on the search results page.

The main benefit of SEM is that it helps advertisers get more visibility in search engines and drives traffic to websites with no wait.

How Does SEO and SEM Work Together?

Think of it like this — SEO is just one piece of the SEM puzzle.

It’s important to know that you should not use these acronyms interchangeably!

If you’re utilizing SEM, then SEO is also tagging along. However, if you’re focusing on SEO, that doesn’t mean you’re utilizing SEM (as you must be doing paid advertising).

To be successful when using SEM for your business, it’s crucial to have a detailed strategy that you stick to. In the end, this is how you’ll get the best Return on Investment (ROI).

Which Is Best for Your Business?

There’s some confusion on whether SEO or SEM is best for your business, but I’m here to tell you that it honestly depends on your specific business and the goals you have in place.

That may not be the answer you want to hear, but it’s the truth!

Ultimately, the first step your business needs to take is building a tailored digital marketing strategy and online presence. Once you determine your audience by using your marketing strategy, you’ll be able to know who to target as well as how to reach them.

If you’re looking for immediate results, SEM is the best option. Keep in mind that you don’t want to ignore your SEO, as it’s still a vital part of your website’s credibility (something you can’t establish with paid advertising).

Regardless of what option you end up choosing, take time to evaluate your goals and think about what would be best for your business, not what the business next door is doing.

Just because something works for them, doesn’t mean you’ll find the same success.

Final Thoughts

SEO and SEM both have a purpose in digital marketing depending on what needs your business has.

Remember, your marketing strategy should be tailored to your business! At RevLocal, we take a personalized approach to digital marketing, which means utilizing unique solutions for your business.

If you're ready to improve your online presence, make sure to request a demo with one of our digital marketing consultants today!