Should you use SEO, SEM, or both?

Monday, August 21st, 2023

Should you use SEO, SEM, or both?

There are several techniques that people swear by in digital marketing, but two are constantly battling each other for the top spot in marketers’ minds – SEM and SEO. So which one should you focus on: SEO (search engine optimization) or SEM (search engine marketing)?

In this article, we’ll explain the difference between the two, give you a quick breakdown of the best website types for each, and provide an idea of how much time and money is required. Let’s dig in!

What’s the Difference Between SEM and SEO?

SEM and SEO have more in common than you might think! Learn why here.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO involves incorporating best practices to ensure your website ranks well on search engine results pages (SERPs). Here’s a quick overview of some of the SEO practices that can help a website rank better, getting more web traffic and higher quality web traffic.

If you think about what your customers would type into search engines, you’re already well on your way to keyword research! There are keyword research tools and plugins that can also help, but a low-budget way to get started is to think about what customers would Google.

On-page optimization refers to adding other important data to your web pages, like meta descriptions, alt text, meta titles, title tags, internal and external links, and more. You can also optimize your website for mobile for better SEO. Included under the umbrella of on-page optimization is technical optimization: getting a unique IP address, creating more efficient source code, and ramping up your server speeds.

Link-building is the practice of asking other websites to hyperlink to your website, and building out your blog, whitepapers, ebooks, etc., to provide helpful information to your target audience is content creation.

Search Engine Marketing

SEM is a combination of SEO and paid advertising methods. Examples of paid advertising methods include Google Ads, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, and more. This entails creating ads for search engines and targeting them toward potential customers to drive traffic to a landing page, online store, etc. Organic search and paid search (pay per click/PPC) are both under the wider umbrella of SEM.

SEM also tends to be far more expensive compared to SEO alone.

Define Your Goals Before You Decide

So which one’s best for your business? You won’t know until you outline your goals.

Goals for sites that use SEM

Here are some of the goals that companies who use SEM would be after:

  • Stand out from the competition. Since SEO requires a low investment of money, search results get crowded. Using PPC advertising can help cut down on the noise.
  • Target specific users. With pay-per-click, you can create ads that show up only for your target audience based on their interests, driving them to your website for their solution.
  • Bid on competitor keywords. You can even grab attention and take part of the market share from your competition’s branded keywords by bidding on them.

Goals for sites that use SEO

There are so many reasons to use SEO, and here are some of them:

  • Be an authority in your niche or industry. If your goal is to become a trusted voice in the industry, creating helpful content around it is a good way to get started.
  • Generate leads. By directing readers to a landing page for a special offer or providing the opportunity to sign up for the email newsletter, you can enjoy more leads. The better your content, the more people will want to sign up!
  • Increase organic traffic. When you’ve got high-quality and relevant content for your ideal customer on an easy-to-navigate website, you’ll get more organic traffic. The increased traffic can become more leads and conversions if you do it right!

Websites that benefit from SEO

Want to know if your website will do better by implementing SEO best practices? Well, if you’re on the Internet, you’ll probably benefit!

Here are some of the types of websites that can get a boost by implementing SEO:

Matcha Design for SEM and SEO

Whether or not you’ve got the budget for full SEM with pay-per-click, it doesn’t hurt to invest some time into getting your SEO tight. And if you’re not sure to do it, we’re happy to help! Here at Matcha Design, we’re marketing experts and can handle both sides of the coin. Contact us today for more information!

About Matcha Design

Matcha Design is a full-service creative B2B agency with decades of experience executing its client’s visions. The award-winning company specializes in web design, logo design, branding, marketing campaign, print, UX/UI, video production, commercial photography, advertising, and more. Matcha Design upholds the highest personal standards for excellence and can see things from a unique perspective due to its multicultural background.  The company consistently delivers custom, high-quality, innovative solutions to its clients using technical savvy and endless creativity. For more information, visit

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