Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is different from SEM in that an effort is made to rank organically, in the “free” rankings.

Here’s a quick run-down of the differences between paid search advertising and search optimization.



  • Free visibility, clicks and traffic
  • Top spots usually have higher click-through-rates than ads
  • A perception of being a quality website/business – being credible, reputable and an authority


  • Often a hard battle to rank and can take time
  • Resource-intense – content, links, etc.
  • Some competitive keywords or authority sites can be difficult or impossible to outrank
  • Some keywords require a lot more resources and effort



  • Can gain visibility and traffic quickly
  • Only pay for clicks you receive
  • Ad Extensions – ability to display phone numbers, address, prices, etc.
  • Ability to micro-target users


  • Continuous cost – Must keep paying to receive traffic
  • Some users completely skip ads
  • Campaign management

As you can see SEO, and SEM are quite different in terms of strategy, implementation and goals.

Incorporating both into your online strategy is a good idea, though, as both are effective to increase visibility, traffic, and an online presence.

Where should you allocate your budget, though? That can really depend on your niche, marketing strategy, and competition level. However, implementing a PPC campaign can result in quick additional traffic and sales, which can help propel your online marketing efforts.