SEO or SEM? How To Decide

The primary objective concerning your product or service revolves around reaching the appropriate audience. Given the vastness of Google’s search engine, achieving this goal isn’t always straightforward. But with the right strategies, it’s possible. The more you understand what search engines are looking for, the better your chance of pushing your way to the top of the results. With that in mind, let’s look at SEO and SEM to see what’s right for you.

What’s the difference between SEO and SEM?

In simple terms, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is employed to optimise a website for organic search traffic, whereas Search Engine Marketing involves both organic and paid advertising methods to draw traffic to your website.


SEO is the practice of constantly making sure your website is optimised to rise to the top of Google’s search results. It’s divided into three main categories:

On-Page SEO: This means getting the content of your website optimised for search engines. It’s what you see ‘on the page’ – good quality unique content that’s useful to the reader, easy-to-read layout, proper H1, H2 and H3 headings, relevant keywords, strong internal links, and appropriate meta tags.

Off-Page SEO: This is all the optimisation that takes place ‘off the page’. This means using quality backlinks to build a strong reputation around your brand. If a great brand is linking back to your website, Google will immediately see you as a top player and rank you accordingly. If you’re a local business, you can also optimise your Google Business Profile so that you not only show up on Google Maps but also have your reviews show up for anyone searching for what you offer. For off-page SEO, consider anything that might help bring people to your site, such as guest blogs, or mentions from bigger brands or influencers.

Technical SEO: Lastly, technical SEO is all about the user experience through all the technical aspects of your website. How fast does your website load? What is your site performance rate? How many warnings or errors are coming up on the backend of your site? Using a site audit (or having someone do one for you) will give you a better insight into what parts of your website might be letting you down.


Search Engine Marketing involves leveraging marketing tools to drive traffic to your website. This can be achieved through SEO practices or paid advertising methods. SEM uses strategies like Paid-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, which incurs costs for each click received. Although not free, this approach yields quicker results compared to the organic SEO route. Running ads accelerates the process of attracting website traffic and provides valuable keyword data that can be subsequently integrated into your SEO strategy.

Should I use SEO or SEM?

SEM is a great way to get some wins in the short term and allows you to test what keywords are going to convert into paying customers. Conversely, SEO is a long-term endeavour demanding patience and extensive effort. Although SEO is crucial for establishing a genuine online presence that maintains a top position, SEM can be simultaneously used to refine content optimisation strategies and generate website traffic and leads. Employing a combination of both SEM and SEO yields the most effective results.

We prioritise design and content

Simply having a good-looking website is not enough. To effectively draw traffic and convert visitors into paying customers, a well-crafted SEO strategy is essential. We’re here to help. Our approach centres around creating websites that seamlessly blend great content with beautiful designs, ensuring optimal conversion rates. Request a free quote from us today, and let’s kickstart the journey to online success together. Your website deserves to shine, and we’re here to make it happen!

Lisa Bourke
Lisa Bourke