The question is often asked, Which is better SEO or SEM? The answer really depends on the current state of your website. For me, the answer is a combination of the two is needed to have a truly successful marketing campaign. Before starting any campaign, we must establish what our goals are. Secondly, how are we going to measure success?

Traffic to the website can be increased in various ways. One way is by using a PPC campaign (Pay per Click) this type of campaign can be the placement of carefully designed banners on select websites where our target traffic reside. The other option is Organic traffic or search engine traffic. In this process, we would review your website for search engine optimization or what’s better known as SEO. This is accomplished by placing keywords within the website text and then building backlinks on various other high ranking websites pointing back to your website.

We may also consider building a Private Blog Network to help boost your websites’ page rank on Google. This can be a costly process, but one that has proven to be successful. Here again, this can be time-consuming.

SEO Pros

Awareness. Visibility in search engines for your targeted keywords puts your business in front of potential customers in much the same way as if you were to advertise, and it drives brand awareness.

Branding. Visibility around commercial search terms and informational queries related to your business area can have a positive branding benefit. Your brand can become associated with and trusted by searchers who are asking questions as they conduct the research that will lead to a purchase.

Credibility and trust. Having your site return in the organic results can influence your perceived credibility with an audience looking for your services. Many users skip ads and trust organic results more highly. Being visible gives your business that all-important stamp of approval.

Website traffic. Increasing website traffic provides you with more opportunities to drive awareness of your business.

Return on investment (ROI). Organic search engine traffic can provide an improved ROI over traditional forms of paid media and certainly improve upon PPC.

Sustainability. Unlike paid search marketing, organic traffic does not dry up the moment you stop paying. As such, efforts to develop organic traffic can sustain a business when marketing spend is cut back.

SEO Cons

Initial Cost.  At can become very costly the run an SEO campaign, a lot depends on what your goals are. If it gets to page one of Google, then it’s going to get expensive.

Maintenance Cost. Once you achieve your SERP results, you are going to have to maintain it or lose ranking.

Time. A good SEO campaign will take time to achieve results, sometimes six months or more.  Targeting Organic traffic is more random than PPC traffic.

Lack of Control. There are a lot of factors and elements that are out of your control when dealing with organic results.

SEM Pros

Time. A PPC campaign can be created in days and ramped up in weeks. There is no faster way to get in front of customers at the very moment they are primed to buy than paid search engine advertising.

Budget.  PPC allows for a tight control of the budget. How much you are willing to spend on a daily basis?

Targeting. PPC provides a laser-targeted way to get in front of potential customers. Ads can be targeted by search keywords, time of day, the day of the week, geography, language or device.

Location. Graphical banners ads can be used to promote your website.

Allows for A/B Testing.  A process of testing which type of ads produces the best results.

Measuring results. This type of campaign can easily be tracked for ROI.

SEM Cons

Stability. When your spending ends, so does the traffic.

Cost. PPC can be expensive. It is not always the case, but costs can quickly add up.

Competition. Increased competition in this market has driven costs up, more so in certain markets.

In conclusion, I would recommend that any campaign should involve a combination of both SEO and SEM.

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