SEO vs SEM – Which way to go?


Are you in need of being seen on Google and are now wondering whether SEO or SEM is right for your business? In this article we will explain the differences between the two.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the work you do on your website to appear on various search engines such as Google and Bing. The work with SEO consists of working continuously with keywords and good content that allows you to get good positions in the search results and thus drive in organic traffic. Simply put, you can say that SEO is “free” as you do not have to pay any ongoing costs to Google for your visibility.

What is SEM?

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. SEM targets the paid ad slots in the search engines, and unlike SEO which is organic, this is purchased traffic. With SEM, you as an advertiser can bid on different keywords on Google, thereby gaining visibility on keywords that you might not normally be seen on when someone uses a keyword. SEM is especially good when the website is new and gives you a chance to get your ads to the top of the search results.

What are the differences between SEO and SEM?

There are many differences between SEO and SEM but the main difference is that with SEO you get placement in the organic search results. When it comes to SEM, you can briefly say that you rent a placement on a pre-selected keyword that you want to be seen on that you pay for. Most often you pay cost per click (CPC), but there are also other ways to pay, per lead or sale. In SEM, this term is called bidding strategy.

As for the work with SEO, which is more long-term, it is cheaper in the long run because the placements you can achieve do not cost you anything in cost per click.

However, if Google implements an update, which they do very often, your positions in the search results can change quickly. You can increase in placements for many keywords, but also lose positions on other keywords that you get traffic on from the search engines. With SEM, you can instead get the possibility of visibility even if your website is not organically optimized or if you would lose placements in the organic search results.

If you are in need of expertise in SEO or SEM, do not hesitate to contact us to get a cost estimate!