SEO vs SEM what is right for your business?

Well, I don’t exactly know your business specifically. So, I can’t say exactly what’s right for you with 100% certainty. However, there are a few #RulesOfThumb that I’d encourage you to make note of and build your overall digital marketing strategy around.


One of the questions I’m always asked is: Can SEO be used exclusively for lead generation? Absolutely. If you’re Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Apple or any number of regional businesses that are household names.

However, unless YOU are the absolute authority in your local market, organic SEO should be used for supplemental lead generation. Although organic SEO applied correctly will drive more traffic to your site, a paid budget is always recommended for continual generation of viable business leads. Period.


Let me clear up a bit of confusion around SEO and SEM. SEO {Search Engine Optimization} is merely a component of SEM {Search Engine Marketing}. SEM encompasses all Search Engine Marketing. SEM is internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)through optimization and advertising. This can be done a a variety of ways including paid and non paid search strategies. SEO in particular is the practice of driving more visitors to a site by organic optimization of content, images, performance and code structure. Every business should consider both strategies. In business brand awareness is essential. Although organic SEO is great for perfecting the quality of a website and will help you climb the ranks of Google SERPS, paid SEM is designed for driving instant traffic and ROI to your website.


Quite frankly, you pay for both. Either you pay the publisher {Google, etc} for placement on the Search Engine Results Page {SERP} so searchers can find your business and buy from you, or you pay a talented webmaster to execute the strategies to help you achieve higher organic SERP rankings. Either way? YOU PAY!


So, which is better for your business? First, ask yourself: Where am I in my business life cycle? New? Established? Am I a household name in my market? Yes? No? How am I perceived by the people who do business with me? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Is my website effectively communicating my value proposition? Yes? No? What is my ACV {Average Customer Value}? Profit. What am I willing to invest to acquire a new customer? Investment in future profits.


Once you’ve answered those questions, find a qualified company and determine which strategy is best for you today and longer term. My recommendation? If you need your phone to ring, or your turnstile to swing today? Start with paid SEM and incorporate longer term SEO strategies over time.

Ian Adams
Digital Business Guru