SEO vs. SEM: A Guide To Using Search In Your Marketing Strategy

SEO vs. SEM: A Guide To Using Search In Your Marketing Strategy


Do you remember when was the last time you searched something up on the Internet? It is probably today. Everyday, billions of users use Google to carry out their daily searches. In just the last 6 months, Google has been visited 88.07 billion times and it dominates the search engine market.

Google has a massive advertising potential. Search marketing is a strategy used to boost a website’s visibility and traffic. It is done through various paid and unpaid techniques. Search engine optimisation and search engine marketing, or better known as SEO and SEM are some ways that advertisers use to gain online presence and traffic. In this article, we explore what SEO and SEM entails and how including it in your marketing strategy can do good for your business.

What is SEO?

In search engines, the text that you type into the search box is known as your ‘search query’. When you command a search, it directs you to the ‘search engine results page’ through a process called crawling and indexing. Crawling and indexing allow search engines to discover and collate all available content on the Internet that is relevant to your search query and present it to you in an order. The order goes by how well a website or image matches your query, in a process known as ‘ranking’.

SEO is all about understanding what people are searching online and the content they wish to consume. Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to connect to the people searching online and link them to you. SEO can be implemented to improve the visibility of your site in search results. This step can be done in various ways such as by creating new content, improving the overall structure of your site, or simply revamping your existing content.

The ultimate goal of SEO is to rank high on search engine results pages and increase the number of eyeballs that land on your webpage. So, the better the visibility of your website on search results, the greater chance you have of garnering attention and attracting prospects to your business. Research has also shown that the higher you rank on the search engine results page, the more likely you are to gain traffic to your site. Which is why SEO is such an important tool to utilise in your digital marketing strategy.

Why is SEO so important?

SEO should be an integral part of your digital marketing strategy because an average person conducts between three to four searches on search engines everyday. It is estimated that there are approximately 70,000 search queries on Google every second. That is a whooping 5.8 billion searches per day and 2 trillion global searches in just a year alone!

Search engines like Google are a great platform for brands to gain exposure and connect with their consumers because this group of people have the commercial intent to look for information. By providing users with a solution to their search query, you have a golden opportunity for business growth.

Although paid advertising, social media, and other online platforms can generate traffic and lead them to websites, a large majority of online traffic is driven by search engines. Search is often the primary source of digital traffic and it helps to complement your other marketing channels. Doing so delivers a comprehensive and integrated marketing strategy that works well to connect with your prospects and convert them into buyers.

Ranking high on search results also helps to beat competitors who are further down on search results. By ranking high on the search engine results pages, users are more likely to consider looking at your content or clicking on your website for more, eliminating other results that are down below.

How To Use SEO In My Digital Marketing Strategy?

SEO consists of various techniques that can help increase your online presence drastically. Let’s take a look at a few techniques

Keyword Research

Keyword research is to determine strategic keywords for use in your website’s content and crafting content that can satisfy both users and search engines. Keyword research helps you to understand your target market and learn how they are conducting search. Keyword research involves discovering keywords, uncovering search volume and selecting top keywords that are relevant to your audience and your business.

On-site Optimisation

On-site optimisation involves applying your keyword research and creating quality, valuable content that is useful to your target audience. The aim is to create content that is better than your competitors and to push your search results ranking on search engines. Formatting is also crucial to boost readability. The use of appropriate supporting media, paragraphing and text size can drastically aid in on-site optimisation.

Technical SEO

It’s important to make sure that your content is readable by both humans and by search engines. Technical SEO is the process of optimising your site for search engines discoverability and establishing credibility with developers. Work with web developers on creating a webpage that is fast, interactive and responsive so that Google ‘s algorithm can rank it highly on its platform.

Link Building

Once you’ve created content that people are searching for, that provides a solution to their problem, and that search engines can understand, you need to do link building to establish authority. This can be done through the use of backlinks, establishing a healthy link profile and nurturing a group of audience that will help promote your content.

There are several more ways that you can maximise your digital marketing through SEO but these are some ways you can begin. Consulting a digital marketing agency can help you better manage SEO for your business and grow your brand. Now that you know the basics of SEO, it’s time to learn about what SEM is and how you can incorporate it into your digital marketing mix.

What is SEM?

SEM is the process of using paid strategies to increase search visibility on search engines.

Advertisers will bid for keywords that users of search engines might enter when searching for certain products or services. Through those keywords, it allows the advertiser to understand how their target audience behaves and presents an opportunity for them to display ads that appear alongside results for those search queries.

Unlike SEO, SEM increases visibility in search engine results pages through paid advertising while SEO is not paid. While paid search is a part of SEM, specifically pay-per-click (PPC) ads, the two strategies have their differences. A standard PPC advertisement can only do so much as to display your site highly on a search engine results page, but SEM can do much more by increasing relevance and clickability of your advertisements through a combination of techniques.

As compared to SEO, SEM has greater control when it comes to searchability on the search engine results pages. This is something that organic search cannot achieve. With SEM, search advertisers determine the search terms that they want their advertisements to appear on and are charged by the number of clicks they receive. This way advertisers can reach out to motivated prospects who already know what they want. We know this through the search queries they input into search engines.

SEM is a powerful strategy to include in your digital marketing strategy, let us learn more about why it is such an important consideration for marketers.

Why is SEM so important?

With 48% of digital ad spend going to paid search ads, your business should utilise SEM to stay competitive and ahead of its competitors.

SEM is so important because it ensures that the target audience that you have specified sees the content you create and appears top on the results page. By analysing keywords and through bidding, advertisers can pay for their advertisements to appear when and where they want it to. Such as appearing to a prospect who wants to get a haircut when the prospect search for the term ‘hair salon near me’,

And because you pay for the position to rank highly on the search engine results page, you do not have to compete in the organic space and have greater control on who sees your advertisement. This way you can effectively reach and connect with your target audience, drive traffic to your website and boost conversion rate.

But, SEM’s greatest strength is that it offers advertisers the opportunity to put their ads in front of motivated customers who already have the intention to purchase a product or service. This is something that no other form of advertising can do, which is why SEM is so relevant, effective and powerful.

How To Use SEM In My Digital Marketing Strategy?

Other than the strategies that have been briefly mentioned above, there are many other ways that you can incorporate SEM. Below, we share some tactics that you can easily use in your digital marketing strategy.

Local Search Optimisation

First is optimising local search results through the use of a complex algorithm and matching it with your search term and geographical data. Local search makes it such that your business, products, or services appear in search queries for people browsing for nearby solutions. However, it is not fully effective if the title of the advertisement or meta description is not relevant to what the user is searching for. Relevancy is key for SEM and search queries to work.


Retargeting, which is also known as remarketing, targets bounced traffic after they leave your website. It gives you the opportunity to display ads to a primed audience – those who have already been to your site. Many brands use this method, such as Zalora and Lazada.

Product Listing Advertisements

Also known as PLA, these advertisements display detailed information to users other than standard plain text. You can see images and prices of products and services in this form of advertising. This helps to encourage clicks to your website.

Using Search

SEO and SEM may sound the same, but they are two very different approaches to search marketing. You’ve learnt that both SEO and SEM can help a brand appear in search results and drive traffic to your site, and that keywords are important in both forms of advertising. But which to use needs greater consideration and in-depth analysis of your business.

SEM works together with SEO and paid search to create a broad strategy that increases the effectiveness of your advertisements. PPC can be combined with SEO to create optimised advertisements. See, when you combine relevant keywords and pay to display it highly on search engines, effective advertisements are created, which increases the chance of people clicking on it and getting to know your brand. In summary, it is not enough to use SEO or SEM solely. Maximum effectiveness is achieved when you use a combination of both.

Unsure of how to begin using search in your digital marketing strategy? D’Marketing Agency has a team of SEO and SEM experts that can guide you along the way and help you create an effective and comprehensive search strategy that can grow your business. From SEO copywriting to backlink development, paid search and landing page optimisation, D’Marketing Agency has the experience and skills to help you create advertisements that will deliver the results you want. Contact them today for a free consultation on how you can improve your digital marketing now!

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