SEO V/S SEM Difference – Which one is best for your business?

SEO and SEM are two most important components in the world of Digital Marketing. Often used interchangeably, these two components can be a confusing concept to grasp. While both revolve around getting visitors to your website when we look closely they are two different traffic generation methods with each having their own skill sets and guidelines.

Now, which method is the best for your business performance? Well, both are equally important to gear up your small or start-up business. So, no matter which of the two methods you choose, the main objective of both is to market your business, increase brand visibility, drive traffic, and boost sales.

What are SEO and SEM?

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

  • Used to generate free, organic/ natural traffic or visitors from the search engine result pages
  • The main objective is to attract only relevant visitors to your website who are interested in your products or services
  • Components: On page SEO, Off-page SEO

SEM – Search Engine Marketing

  • This an inorganic traffic generation method done by purchasing ads on search engines
  • Often refers to PPC/ Pay per click marketing
  • Components: PPC Listing/ Advertising



  • A method to generate a maximum number of visitors by ensuring website optimization for a higher position
  • SEO is a part of SEM
  • SEO is an inexpensive free digital marketing method
  • SEO algorithm continually keeps on changing as Google algorithms get updated but one thing stays constant i.e On-page SEO, Off-page SEO
  • Can be easily achieved by putting proper keywords on the website, writing quality content, providing accurate navigations, building quality backlinks.
  • One should focus on the core website to streamline the ways to make the visitor stay longer and decrease the bounce rate


  • Is a paid online marketing method to increase the visibility of the website in the search engine using optimization and advertising
  • It is an expensive paid search tactic
  • Is a broad term which includes SEO and other search marketing tactics
  • One can use pay per click campaigns, do paid content marketing, guest posting, placing ads on social media platforms, use email marketing campaigns, create newsletters, build communities or forums, etc. to maximize website visibility and generate maximum traffic and conversions.

remember SEO and SEM cannot be used interchangeably because even though they work together they both are independent entities!

Which digital marketing method is better for your business?

Digital marketers often debate on whether SEO is better than SEM or vice versa. However, it doesn’t matter which one outperforms the other as both are equally important if you want to grow your business online and need to generate a sufficient amount of traffic. One thing is clear, Organic SEO is always the best approach, but then true SEM cannot succeed without the use of organic SEO.

If you are into following business types, you can use the given guide to decide which one to use:

  • Running a new business, focus on SEO first to build an online presence and then SEM
  • Have good incoming traffic but poor conversion – focus on SEO
  • Have great conversions but not steady traffic – focus on SEM

Remember one thing, SEM is based on marketing budget and conversion rates while SEO is a continual process which expands as your business grows.

So what are you waiting for? Jump in the game of digital marketing and let the world know about your business using SEO or SEM. Evaluate your business needs, understand the difference, analyze your maintenance efforts, and choose wisely before selecting on any one method.

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