Is SEO or SEM a Sustainable Path for Business Marketing Success?

How do you determine whether SEO or SEM is the right path for marketing your business and what each method means in terms of generating ROI and how quickly?

SEO or SEM for marketing business

Since both deal with visibility and traffic, the choice between SEO and SEM have confused business owners for ages! Some experts will tell you that they have little in common, yet they are both important in driving qualified traffic, so what should you do?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consists of organic strategies that drive traffic to a website.

Whereas, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) includes paid efforts that aim at increasing the visibility of a website.


In this post we’re going to cover the value of SEO vs SEM and choosing the marketing mix that’s right for you.

What are SEM and SEO for business websites?

Let’s start by exploring SEM a little. As mentioned above, this is a paid effort that focuses on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. SEM leverages ad campaigns that draw relevant traffic to sites.

Crudely speaking, it is a way of paying for visits to your website.

The great thing about SEM is that it can start generating revenue immediately. Since PPC works best on leading search engines like Google, it typically costs the entrepreneur a pretty penny. However, the effort lasts as long as the paid campaign continues. Sometimes, PPC can be expensive, and it can drive your marketing budget through the roof. For obvious reasons you will want to establish a path towards a positive ROI relatively quickly.


Where SEM can begin generating visibility and revenue quickly, SEO is an ongoing effort that takes a bit of time. The big upside to SEO is that it typically continues to generate revenue long after the initial work has been done.

This makes SEO sustainable, cost-efficient, and comparatively long-term.

Unlike SEM, SEO uses organic methods to make your website user-friendly and search engine friendly. Search engine optimization can include subtle changes to your website content, link building, and keyword usage to propel your website to the top of the SERP. Or, it can involve a massive overhaul of a website for making it mobile responsive, navigation friendly, search engine crawler friendly and secure.

SEO has several components – on-site and off-site are the two significant parts of it.

On-site SEO refers to components that you and I can see when we visit your website.
They include the landing page, the site content, product pictures and descriptions, blog pages, and even your videos. Anything that your viewers can see and interact with on any page of your website comprises your on-site SEO.

Off-site SEO refers to a significant part of technical SEO that your users typically do not interact with directly.
Working on your off-site SEO may involve earning trustworthy backlinks, updating your content metadata, filling out your SEO slug, choosing keyword-rich titles for your posts, and editing default URLs to be human-friendly.

A significant part of technical SEO is the schema mark-up of your website.
Search engine crawlers need to be able to crawl every nook and cranny of your site (that you want them to crawl). Updating the schema mark-up by submitting a new XML sitemap can help you improve the Google spiders’ access to your website and all of its contents. Indexing new content is indispensable if you want Google to rank your content for relevant search terms.

How do you decide between SEO and SEM?

A recent Google survey shows that over 94% of all millennial users prefer following organic links rather than going for sponsored ads. Therefore, for companies like Kick Media in Brisbane, have many clients for whom PPC is not only an expensive option, but it also might be a big waste of money.

Typically, PPC is the method of choice when targeting a select group within a defined radius of their business center. This however, may not be the case when it comes to targeting Millennials. PPC is not everyone’s cup of tea, so check out Kick Media Brisbane to learn about the best choice for your brand.

SEM vs. SEO: Which is the right call for you?

While SEM can fetch relevant customers for your website, it generally works much better for larger eCommerce websites. For smaller businesses, customized visibility methods that target highly specific or local consumers may work better. One foolproof way to draw relevant attention to your website and its content is by tracking down the activity of visitors from specific localities inside specific cities.

This is a highly effective technique for those businesses that cater to select communities or localities within a particular city or district. Most online marketers go straight to SEM for ‘geo-fencing’ solutions such as this, but the latest SEO trends have focused on localization of SEO and here’s why you should try it too –

  1. It will reduce competition for your business, primarily if you are catering to a small area.
  2. It will make you more visible to your target audience only.
  3. It is much cheaper to optimize for a select group of known buyers than to please a larger mass of audience from different parts of the country.

When you are optimizing for your audience in Brisbane, SEO can help you boost your organic traffic. Organic traffic consists of the visitors who come directly from Google SERPs by clicking on your listed URL. They might not always land on your homepage, and that is one reason you need to optimize the loading speed, content quality, and keyword usage on each page on your site. Additionally, it is the most important reason for you to ensure that your sitemap is updated and you have submitted the latest XML sitemap to Google for indexing.

Is there a drawback to investing in SEO?

If someone tells you there are no caveats to playing the SEO game, you might want to get a second opinion. The biggest caveat being that SEO is a long-term commitment, and while there is no way you can lose money simply by updating your website to make it more user-friendly there darn sure is opportunity to lose money when it comes to off-site SEO tactics.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of SEO agencies that offer nothing in return for your money. Spending money on SEO is the best kind of business investment you can make for the long haul if you vet your SEO service provider carefully.

Important Note:

Even with the right agency, the effects of SEO changes might take between 3 weeks and 3 months to show.

However, when it does click, you will enjoy higher visibility, better-paying traffic, higher conversion rates, higher sales, and profits.

How can you pick the right SEO agency for your brand?

One way to determine the authenticity of your SEO agency is by checking their track record. Apart from their list of clients, you should see if they offer detailed analytics reports on website key performance indicators (KPIs) like bounce rate, dwell time, conversion rates, click-through rates, and cart abandonment rates. Apart from the data, they should provide actionable information on how to improve your site’s performance in the coming weeks by addressing the issues on the reports.

The effects of SEO are quantifiable. It does NOT bear an unknown ROI like many agencies would like you to believe. Whether you’re located in Brisbane or not, picking an SEO agency can produce a solid foundation for generating revenue, for years!