#1 Awesome Guide on SEO vs SEM

Hey everyone, bloggingloud here, and today, We going deeper in paid advertising aka SEO vs SEM. Which one’s better? Which one sucks? Why should you be leveraging any of them?

seo vs sem
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SEO vs SEM

Some people say you have to do SEO. Some people say you have to do paid advertising SEM. Which one is better?

You know what, not only am I going to go over that today, but the answer is not what you’re going to expect.

SEO vs SEM

The difference between SEO vs SEM is simple.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the practice of optimizing content to be discovered through a search engine’s organic results.

SEM or Search Engine Marketing, is traditionally SEO plus Pay-per-click advertising, but some people just look at it as PPC today. Now, you might be thinking that SEO is the way to go since organic traffic is free, consistent, and passive.

SEO vs SEM

But it’d be short-sighted to think that it’s the only way to grow your business through search. So today, we’re going to be talking about some search engine marketing strategies and when and where you should be using SEO, PPC, or both.

Bloggingloud here we using Ubbersuggest by Neil Patel, the SEO tool that helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche. Also its free for using few keywords & then you have to pay for it.

sem seo
ubbersuggest

Search engines are in my opinion, the best traffic source. In fact, around 5 billion searches happen on Google every single day. It’s also been reported that search engines drive 10 times more traffic to shopping sites than social media.

SEO vs SEM

And for you local business owners, 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within 5 miles. Now, to explain why SEO and PPC are both important, let’s play a game of “would you rather.”

Would you rather be able to instantly rank #1for any keyword or have an unlimited PPC budget to pay for ads?

PPC Now, I certainly don’t have an proper answer to this, but let’s unpack both sides. From a pure SEO perspective, you need to remember that search engines are businesses. They need to make money in order to operate.

As a result, most, if not all platforms will give premium placements to paying customers. For example, commercial keywords like “buy hosting,” have a ton of value and therefore, a ton of competition, so the entire fold is pretty much covered in ads, making organic results near invisible.

SEO vs SEM

seo vs sem, sem vs seo , seo , sem
screenshot of search

So assuming you ranked organically for this keyword, a searcher would have to scroll down for a while before even entertaining the thought of going to your page. Now, let’s make a case for PPC (SEM). Sure, if you had an infinite budget, you’d be ranking #1 at the top of every page, right?

SEO vs SEM

Nope! Google doesn’t show Ads on every page for every search. There needs to be some sort of commercial intent in order for Ads to appear. For example, key in something with clear commercial intent, like “buy budget mobiles,” and you’ll see Ads galore. Type in an informational query, like “what to do in lockdown,” and you won’t see any Ads.

seo vs sem
screenshot of search result

So if you were to opt-in for an infinite Ads budget, but no SEO, you’d be missing out on a ton of opportunity to get traffic. And another thing to note is that commercial keywords generally have less search volume than informational ones, which would even further limit your pool of relevant traffic.

SEO vs SEM

As you can see in Ubbersuggests Keywords Explorer, the informational query like “photography” gets searched nearly 27X more than the commercial one. So now I’m guessing that your answer to unlimited SEO traffic vs PPC SEM traffic is probably tougher than you might have initially thought.

But this is why we have yet another acronym, SEM, where we can combine the two strategies and truly take our search engine marketing to another level.

SEO vs SEM

Let’s go through a few strategies that should give you a good idea of when and why to implement SEO, PPC, or both.

Steps to Follow Firstly

try running Ads for keywords that are too competitive to rank for, at least for now. There are likely keywords in your industry that you won’t be able to rank for in years. For example, if you were creating a brand new supplements store and you wanted to rank for things like “buy protein powder,” then your chances of a Top 3 ranking are slim.

You’d be competing against the competitor likes of Amazon, Flipkart and Walmart to name a few. Now, it doesn’t mean that you should abandon SEO altogether and just run ads.

SEO vs SEM

But since ranking for competitive terms will likely be a long play, PPC can help get the ball rolling immediately. And there are three massive benefits to using PPC while you’re working to rank your pages.

First,

you can immediately start generating revenue since you’re paying for traffic. This will hopefully help get some cash flow coming in, but do note that just because you advertise, it doesn’t mean you’ll have a positive return. Oftentimes, it can take months and a lot of lost dollars to find a campaign that works for you.

Second,

you get an opportunity to test and optimize for conversions. Most ad platforms have conversion-tracking features. After all, if publishers can see that their ad spend is returning positive ROI, they’ll keep spending.

So use this as an opportunity to get insights on things like the average cost per conversion. Run controlled tests to improve your conversion rate. And as you start producing profit from your ads, scale out to other platforms.

Third,

you can get valuable keyword data. Within Google Ads, they have a report called, “Search Terms.” Within this report, you can see keywords that people are bidding on and see conversion numbers with them. This can help you get an understanding of whether the keywords you want to target will actually produce conversions.

As a hypothetical example, let’s say that you were bidding on “protein powder,” and getting a ton of traffic because it’s a popular query.

SEO vs SEM

But in terms of net profit, you weren’t profitable. Within the Search Terms report, you might find that a keyword like “loss fat whey protein” sends a lot less traffic but converts at a much higher rate.

So what I recommend you do is to export the search terms report from Google Ads. Then use a keyword research tool like Ubbersuggests Keywords Explorer, where you can paste many keywords at once and get all their metrics.

Now, I don’t have an Ads campaign on protein powder, but to illustrate my point, you’ll see that the Keyword Difficulty score is much lower for “loss fat whey protein.” So it would be worth investigating and potentially creating a new page for.

SEO vs SEM

That way you’ll likely be able to get some traffic from organic search faster. We have a full tutorial on keyword research where I outline a detailed step-by-step process to assess ranking difficulty, so I highly recommend checking that out. Now, another reason you might use both SEO and SEM (ppc) is if the search results pages are covered in Ads. As you already saw in the “insurance” example, competitive keywords generally have a lot of people willing to pay top dollar to appear at the top.

And even if you’re ranking #1 through SEO, the organic results are so far down that they may not even get clicked.

Now, to put this into perspective, you’ll see that on average, the #1 rank position for the keyword “photography” But if you look at Click through rate, Search Console tells that people only click our result 35% of the time!

seo vs sem
ubbersuggest

And if we look at the search results, you’ll see that there are a bunch of ads, making it look like #1 organic result is actually #4.

SEO vs SEM

As you can see, the majority of ads are for local SEO services, so if we had an agency offering services like this, I’d definitely consider putting some money into ads to get more clicks to our pages, and hopefully more customers.

Finally is to own as much real estate as possible. And this is similar to the strategy that we’ve just went through, but for a different reason. These days, a typical SERP will have some Ads at the top, some SERP elements like featured snippets, “People also ask” boxes, and then the organic search results.

Now, while this might feel annoying for SEOs in particular, I want you to look at this as an opportunity to rank in SERPs with monopolization in mind.

SEO vs SEM

For example, you’ll see that The Blog Starteris paying for Ads, owns the featured snippet, and has the #1 ranking position. And to me this makes a lot of sense for him to put his time and effort into since he’s likely making a lot of his money from this page.

At Ubbersuggests, its fully committed to providing the best possible resources on SEO.

SEO vs SEM PROS N CONS

Let’s get started with paid advertising.

There’s four main pros of paid advertising.

SEO vs SEM

One, it can scale up as quick as you want. As you’re willing to spend more money, you get more traffic. You start a paid advertising campaign, you get that traffic today.

Two, you can target any region that you want. With paid advertising, if you only do business in Assam, you can only do ads just in Assam,

If you do business in a specific city, you can also have your ads only show up within that city. That’s a beautiful part about paid advertising.

Three, you can leverage day parting. Day parting isn’t common, most people aren’t familiar with this and they’re not using this. But if you’re business is only around from 8 am to 5 pm, and let’s say you’re in the B to B industry, and you’re looking for phone calls,

why would you want to pay for ads at 6 pm? Because if someone comes to your website, and they try calling you, no one’s going to be there to answer it. With day parting, it allows you to pick what hours you want your ads to show up.

The last thing you want to do, is be spending money during times that you’re not in business.

Fourth thing, this is my favorite part about paid ads, is you can be very aggressive with your landing pages. With SEO, typically, pages that rank on the top of Google, are very long in content and they have roughly 2000 words.

With pay-per-click, if you’re landing page has 2000 words, people aren’t really going to convert into a customer, or a lead, or a sale. They’re probably going to read your content. That’s not what you want.

SEO vs SEM

You want them to buy, and that’s the beauty of pay-per-click. You can have a very aggressive landing page that focuses on your service, your offer, your product and you can get people to convert much higher from a percentage of how many visitors you’re getting to how many customers, than you can from SEO.

Advantages of doing SEO

Now, get in to the advantages of SEO, With SEO, there’s a few advantages.

One, even if you slow down on SEO, you can keep getting more traffic over time. That’s the beautiful part. With paid advertising, the moment you stop, so does your traffic. With SEO, if you slowdown, all that traffic that you’ve built up, doesn’t go away. You can still maintain it and get it.

Two, SEO traffic is free. And here’s what I mean by free, yes, it does take time or energy, or you may have to pay some people to help with link building or content, but it’s free because it’s so much cheaper and in general, you can do SEO yourself.

You don’t have to pay an agency or firm to help you with SEO. You can learn it yourself, you can do it yourself and over time you’ll notice that your traffic goes up.

Third big benefit is, majority of people when they perform a search, click on the organic listings. If you disagree with that, leave a comment and say no.

ANALYSIS SEO vs SEM

And I know most you aren’t going to disagree, because the data shows the majority of the traffic goes to organic listings over paid listings. Now, you’re probably wondering, which one should you do.

Well, with pay-per-click, you’ll find that you can scale upand down much quicker. With SEO, it takes a lot longer. With paid advertisings, you can control the type of artists that comes to your landings page.

With SEO, you can’t. you pretty much get a mix of everything. It could be some people from the Africa, specific city that you may not be selling your services in, it could be in Canada if you’re not operating in Canada, India, whatever region it may be.

SEO vs SEM

You can’t necessarily control that as closely as you can with pay-per-click. Also, with SEO traffic, it’s not guaranteed. Algorithms can slap you. Once you’re doing well, that traffic doesn’t always last.

Yes, you can maintain a portion of it, but it may go up or down and you could get slapped from the algorithm.

And yeah with paid advertising, you can get pulled away as well and slapped, but it’s very rare because you’re giving them money. You’ll also find that paid scales really easily, while SEO takes a lot of time.

With SEO you get to write a lot of content, either yourself or you got to hire writers or contractors, whatever it may be. And even when you do that, you won’t see the results right away. It can take three to six months before you see some result, but it usually takes over a year before the results start kicking in.

SEO vs SEM

So, now let’s go to the ultimate question; is it SEO or is it paid, which one should you be leveraging? Well the answer is, both. If they’re both profitable, why wouldn’t you leverage them?

If paid advertising’s profitable, that means SEO for sure is going to be profitable. You want to leverage not only paid and SEO, you’re going to be leveraging any marketing channel that’s profitable and works, that you can keep scaling.

So, if people say, oh SEO’s better, or paid advertising is better,it doesn’t really matter. Leverage all the channels that are profitable for your business. Back in the day, you could just leverage SEO and build a business, or you could just leverage paid.

SEO vs SEM

But now, there’s so many businesses popping online, it’s so competitive that you have no choice but to leverage all the channels out there.

From Google Adwords, to Facebook Ads, to SEO, to Content Marketing, to Social Media Marketing, to Email Marketing, to Push Notifications.

The list keeps going on and on. That’s the only way you’re going to succeed is if you have an omni-channel approach, in which you’re leveraging all the channels. So now you have it, which one’s better? It doesn’t matter, you want to leverage all of them.

If you found this blog post interesting, make sure you share it, tell other people about it, or if you have any questions on paid or SEO or any marketing related questions, leave a comment below.

SEO vs SEM

CONCLUSION of SEO vs SEM

So the way I like to look at the topic of SEO vs SEM – PPC is not so much which one should you use. It’s more about looking at the differences and seeing how they complement each other to create a dominant search engine marketing strategy, aka SEM.

SEO vs SEM

Now, if you’re relatively new to SEO, I highly recommend reading some of our blog post (which I’ll link up below).

Or if you want to see us make some desirable tutorials, let me know in the comments. And if you enjoyed this blog post, make sure to share and subscribe to newsletter for more actionable tutorials. So keep grinding away, go and dominate your industry, and I’ll see you in the next article.

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