SEO vs. SEM – How do they differ from each other?

seo and smm

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) aim to improve your website’s ranking on SERPs for search queries related to your services and drive quality web traffic. However, they use different methods to achieve this goal. Their main difference is that SEO focuses on website optimization for improved ranking and traffic in organic search results. On the other hand, SEM uses both organic and paid means to achieve the same goal. Both are crucial marketing methods for your business. You can hire a digital marketing agency in Wallaceburg, Ontario, to develop effective SEO and SEM campaigns to improve your website’s search visibility and ranking.

Difference between SEO and SEM

Google’s search results display both organic and paid search results. Let us discuss the differences between these two forms of marketing methods.


Organic search results are websites displayed below the sponsored websites. SEO aims to implement various strategies to help your website rank high in the organic search results for search queries relevant to your business.

Paid search results appear on the top of the SERP and are marked by the term ‘sponsored .’SEM utilizes strategies to help your website rank high in both organic and paid search results. It includes both SEO and pay-per-click advertising to achieve this result.

Main Features

SEO involves strategies to help optimize your website to boost its search rankings. In this regard, they perform various activities on and outside your website to improve their SERP rankings. You can hire an SEO agency in Ontario to develop effective strategies to boost your website’s rankings on search engine results. The following are different SEO services an SEO professional will offer.

  • Technical SEO – It involves optimizing your website to help Google and other search engines crawl and index your site effectively. Generally speaking, it can include activities like improving page speed, internal linking, making the site secure, ensuring it is mobile-friendly, etc.
  • On-page SEO – It involves optimizing critical areas on your website, such as Metadata, URL, headings and subheadings, content, etc., with relevant keywords. It improves its chances of ranking high on SERPs when searchers use relevant search phrases when looking for products and services similar to what you offer.
  • Off-page SEO – It involves activities that take outside your website to create as many external sources as possible to drive traffic to your website. Ideally, it will include business citations on online directories, social media marketing, link-building, etc.

Other critical SEO services they will perform to build effective strategies are –

  • SEO audit on your website to identify areas that need improvements
  • Keyword research
  • Competitor Analysis

On the other hand, SEM involves both SEO and various different paid advertising strategies. In addition to the above-mentioned SEO services, SEM also involves –

  • Pay-per-Click advertising
  • Display Ads
  • Shopping or product advertising
  • Remarketing

SEM also considers the following aspects of paid advertisement. These include –

  • Bids – These determine the expenses your business will bear for each click on your ads. Platforms such as Google Ads offer automated bidding options to help you achieve your business goals within your ad budget.
  • Quality Score – It measures the quality and relevancy of your ads. A higher Quality Score implies a lower cost-per-click and better ad placements.
  • Ad assets – These can be copies, images or videos of your ads. Optimizing your ad assets can help you deliver relevant ads to your audiences, which further helps improve their click-through rate.

When running paid ad campaigns, it is better to research different ad platforms to understand how they deliver ads. It would help you optimize your ads accordingly to achieve better results. Hiring a PPC service company in Ontario can help you run efficient ad campaigns for your business.

Time to get results

Usually, you will immediately start getting results for paid ad campaigns. On the other hand, it might take approximately three to six months for your SEO efforts to show results. It is better to remember that SEO or SEM professionals can’t guarantee the time it will take for you to notice results from your marketing efforts. However, when you stop running your ads, you will stop earning results from them. On the contrary, if you succeed in getting better ranking and traffic from your SEO efforts, it will likely stay the same for some time, even after you stop with your SEO efforts.

When to use?

SEO can be your best choice for the following situations

  • You are looking for organic methods to earn rankings and traffic.
  • You are ready to wait a few months to notice improvements in ranking, traffic, leads, sales, etc.
  • You are aiming for long-term results.

On the other hand, you can choose paid methods for the following reasons-

  • You want to get immediate results.
  • You want to appear for high-competition search results without waiting for SEO.
  • You can afford the time, resources, and budget for your weekly ads.

How can HireH Consulting help with your SEO and SEM campaign?

Experts advise developing effective SEO strategies as a part of your overall SEM campaign. Combining SEO and PPC advertising campaigns can help you achieve better results for your business. Both these methods can complement each other. You can use them to learn more about your audiences, their demographics, preferences, interests, and the search phrases they use when looking for products and services similar to what you offer. Accordingly, you can optimize your organic and paid search strategies for better results. Hireh Consulting is a trusted digital marketing agency in Wallaceburg, Ontario. We can help develop effective SEO, PPC, or SEM strategies for your business to achieve your marketing goals.