Comparing SEO vs. SEM click for click

Businesses are often conflicted with the question of whether SEM or SEO search results work better to grow their business. Should we focus on our content and our SEO strategy, or should we go the way of Search Engine Marketing and pay to be on top?

It’s like asking whether you should aim to get an article in a magazine or pay to sponsor an ad or event. Both are beneficial and serve different purposes. So often, you want to do both.

In digital, they can work even better together to boost the results of the other. So in other words. YES. (To both).

Organic search results give you credibility and enduring search results, while SEM PPC provides more immediate top-of-the-page listings and typically generates greater click-through rates.

High SEO rankings do take time and resources to build, any new message or content could add onto that, plus results are never guaranteed. Search ads can go live within days and the right bid (ad creative and landing page) puts you front and center.

Another consideration is your audience. Nielsen survey reports (based on data in the UK) the older the consumer, the more likely they are to click on ads, and more women over men will too.

Some studies out there have even indicated that approximately 50% of web users can’t really distinguish from SEM ads vs. Organic Results.

Per Google: “SEO is a traditional cornerstone of successful online marketing because it gives your business the best chance of being found – even if the optimization process takes awhile to get right. AdWords lets you reach customers more immediately, no matter how large or small your business is, and also lets you customize your message and targeting on the fly. Using SEO and AdWords together may give you the best chance of bringing traffic to your site in the short term, and enhancing your business’s presence online for long-term success.”

Google Search Definitions:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of including content on your site that has the potential to improve your site’s visibility to search engines and their users – in other words, it can help your site show up more often in relevant searches.

AdWords is Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising solution, which allows businesses to bid on the chance to show an ad next to searches on, right when people are looking for what you have to offer. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad to visit your site or call your business, and the ads give you the opportunity to be noticed by a wider audience online. Plus, you can tweak your ads or your targeting anytime, to reach a specific group of people (by interest, geographical area, etc.) or promote a specific deal or product. AdWords also gives you the option of promoting your business outside of Google Search, by showing ads on relevant websites in the Google Display Network (GDN). The GDN is made up of thousands of sites across the web, where you can connect with even more potential customers.


The War on ‘Free’ Clicks: Think Nobody Clicks on Google Ads? Think Again!
WordStream, March 16, 2017,

Do 50% of adults really not recognize ads in search results?
Search Engine Watch, April 2016

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