Search Engine Optimization vs. Search Engine Marketing


Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process through which a webmaster tweaks and improves both the website structure as well as external website influencers so that they can be able to have their website ranking higher on the search engine results pages for better exposure and more business. It is a process that results in a website being listed at the top of the search results in the organic results section.

Search Engine Marketing, otherwise denoted as SEM, is the process through which a website owner tries to create more website visibility on the search results pages primarily through paid methods and techniques. SEM involves paying the search engines to list your site on top of the search results, which is done on the sponsored listings.

Both of these methods of website exposure have numerous advantages and disadvantages. It is upon the website owner to decide which one is best for them. Below are some of the pros and cons of each.

Search Engine Optimization vs. Search Engine Marketing

SEO Pros and Cons

Search engine optimization is a more permanent way of driving free traffic to your website. It takes some bit of time to effect (it is time consuming), but the results are life long. Once done right, you may never need to buy traffic ever or make any tough changes at least in the near future.

Although the traffic from SEO starts coming in slow over a period of time, once it starts, it never stops and can only keep increasing. This is why SEO is the ideal traffic getting technique for the long term business person.

SEM Pros and Cons

Search engine marketing, on the other hand, brings in instant traffic to any website. Whether the site is new or aged, an SEM campaign will trigger in a huge traffic surge almost instantly. Unfortunately, since this is a paid traffic method, as soon as you stop paying, traffic comes to a halt.

Therefore, this method of traffic generation is ideal for a person who has a marketing budget as well as one who needs quick sales probably to kick-start sales or get some capital to expand their business. Again, since this strategy involves bidding on keywords for top positions on the search result pages, it can be expensive, uncertain and loss-friendly.

This said, you should employ both techniques of traffic generation to your website, especially when it is very new. The search engine marketing traffic will kick-start the traffic to your website as you work on the search engine optimization. This way, you won’t have to wait very long to start making sales on your new website.

Simply put, the two traffic methods compliment each other. Start with SEM and when the SEO results start coming in, keep reducing the search engine marketing budget until a time when you stop it completely to utilize the permanent traffic from SEO.

All said though, you can opt to go with either of the traffic generating techniques on its own depending on your business outlook. If you are patient or have no large start-up capital, go with SEO. If you have a good capital, just go with SEM and re-invest the profits in the same.