SEO vs SEM (Google Ads): Which is better for your company?
When it comes to strategies to attract traffic there has always been this debate about which can be better , SEO on the one hand is a legendary technique that if done well can position your website in the long term, but it can take a long time to perfect it, for the Another side is the SEM, in this case, Google Ads that can give you the visibility that your company needs in exchange for a fee, a cost for each click that the user gives in your ad, it is effective instantly, but ephemeral.
Both have their pros and cons, but which one can be better for your company, SEO or Google Ads? What is the profitability of each one? Can they be implemented together?
Keep reading so you have the answers to all your questions.
What is SEO
Surely you already know what SEO is, many times it is defined as a process or a set of techniques that are used so that your company's website can position itself in the first Google search results , so that you increase the views and attract a greater amount of traffic, which means a greater number of clients.
Although this strategy is not based only on the Google search engine model, it is also designed for other types of search engines such as Yahoo or Bing. The big difference from Google is that it manages to capture 92% of the traffic worldwide , according to Statcounter .
If you compare that to just the 8% that other search engines have, you will surely understand why SEO techniques are especially aimed at pleasing Google's algorithm.
When you do a good optimization you have a better chance of appearing in the first search results.
The best part? You will not have to pay for the position.
But to achieve this you need a good score in the evaluation of the algorithm, some factors that are taken into account are the following.
- Having quality content , this must be part of a set of unified strategies with keywords and links , at the same time that you offer value to the user, if you are able to do this you will be giving good signals for a better position.
- Browsing experience, if your company website is easy to navigate and has a fast loading speed , it will be considered for the first search results.
- Link authority, if the links that link to your content have good authority and are of a similar theme, they will increase your possibilities.
To achieve this it is necessary that you put into practice a series of organic techniques, they are known as Black Hat and White Hat, the first includes a series of practices that are sometimes effective, but only in case the Google algorithm fails, and As this seems increasingly impossible, you can and should use as much as possible the White Hat, whose techniques are divided as well.
As the name implies, they are all those activities that you will carry out within your web page to improve the positioning , these help you to have all the characteristics that a website needs to be in the first place. Some actions that you should take into account are the following.
- Select and incorporate important keywords from your sector in titles, labels and meta-descriptions.
- You should also correctly optimize the loading speed of the pages.
- Include some buttons to share on social networks within your content.
- Your texts must be correctly written and optimized.
- URLs should be simple, short, and should include some select keywords.
- A good internal link, this part is very important since you will be able to transmit force from one page to another.
Here you must take into account web design, so you may want to have the help of an expert, since in the optimization process you must use some specialized tools.
For its part, off-page optimization are changes that you will implement on other websites, social networks and other external resources to attract a large mass of traffic. You do this with the help of link building strategies , among other actions that you will see below.
- Create a structure of natural backlinks on websites, they must have a lot of authority and relevance on the Internet.
- Publish content that users want to share, to have signals on social networks.
- Make guest posting, that is, write as a guest author on a highly relevant blog .
- Having other websites where you can post links to your home page.
What is the true story?
Well, with SEO Off-Page the idea is that your website or your personal brand will become more popular on the Internet, if you create good, valuable and high-quality content you will earn a reputation of expert and authority, with this you can do more collaborations in your link building strategy and gradually get a good position.
Advantages and disadvantages of SEO
Optimizing your website with White Hat techniques can bring you many benefits , you could also try it with Black Hat techniques, but apart from that it will not be useful to deceive the algorithm, you may also earn a penalty.
Why does that matter?
Well, a penalty will make your website disappear from the first results, besides, after that it is very difficult to regain the trust of the search engine.
So you will have to strive to create the best quality content to achieve the best results, since with this you can enjoy many benefits, such as the following.
- Increase your brand recognition : If you are successful with the optimization process you can have the privilege of being in the first results of different searches and with different keywords, when users see your website again and again you will be more recognized.
- You will have a stronger relationship with users : A good SEO is to be a good host , thanks to the quality of the content and the browsing experience you can enjoy a higher loyalty rate.
- You will enjoy greater credibility : This advantage is automatic when you are in the first results, if Google believes that your brand has great potential and deserves that position, users will also believe it.
- You will gain more traffic : It goes without saying that your traffic rate will skyrocket, you will be within the reach of thousands of users who are looking for an answer on the first page.
- You won't have to spend a lot of money : SEO costs are not high if you take into account the notoriety and visibility benefits that are obtained.
- You will see a higher quality click rate : Due to the valuable content you will have many users looking for information, but most of them will give you something in exchange, a conversion, a purchase, a comment, etc.
But not everything is flake honey, organic search engine optimization has its drawbacks too, take a look at the following.
- In a bit slow: The Google positioning process takes time, after making the changes you may start to notice the true results in weeks.
- It is competitive: You will not be the only one with the aspiration of being in the first places, so the keywords that you must use must have little competition, but a good traffic rate.
- You need excellent content: Writing will not be your only challenge, there are other types of content that you should use, you may need specialized tools, as well as implementing exceptional strategies.
What is SEM
On the other hand, there is an easier way to get your company to the top in a short time , without implementing all the SEO strategies, however, this time you have to pay.
SEM is specifically defined as «search engine marketing», you may have to use organic optimization techniques such as keywords, because of the way Google works you will not be able to get rid of them, likewise, the fact that it is a Payment does not mean that you should try less.
SEM is also usually recognized for its PPC or "pay per click" system where you will pay only for those users who clicked on your ad, if it is well planned, it is a very profitable system, that is why it is very popular.
Also, there are many ways to do SEM on the Internet , as well as in organic techniques you can also use it in different search engines, but in this case it is more relevant to talk about Google Ads , previously known as Google Adwords. Its system consists of offering brands a tool to find the most appropriate keywords for their campaigns. Once the ad has been created, users who include those keywords in their searches will see it in the first places.
But there are other SEM elements that will help you create more effective promotions, some of them are as follows.
- Segmented ads : They are those that are aimed at a single type of audience, you can select it in the Google Ads tool, they are very effective and work best with long tail keyword campaigns.
- Group ad campaigns : They use variations of different keywords in a campaign with different types of ads.
- Metrics and statistics : You can see the results of your promotions in real time, in the case of Google you can use Analytics to visualize them, the rate of clicks, impressions and even the average cost per click, when analyzing them they will serve you for future announcements.
Advantages and disadvantages of SEM
SEM is one of the most used internet payment marketing strategies , it is also one of the most effective to promote your company online, but it may be necessary for you to know some advantages and disadvantages before making a decision on which one is best for you. brand. Some of the most notable benefits are as follows.
- You will be in the first results : When using Google Ads you will see that your ad will be positioned in the first results, immediately. It is one of the many benefits of PPC.
- You will edit each detail with greater precision : Thanks to the tool, you will improve the titles, description and URL of your ads in one place and with greater precision.
- You will be able to show images : Google Ads has a special function to show the images of products in stock, so it will be more striking for the user.
- You will increase the number of customers : You can focus the campaigns so that when a user clicks on your ad it is because they are really interested in buying and not just enjoying the content you offer them.
- You will control your budget better : You have the opportunity to set a daily budget of what you want to spend, so you will not exceed the pay per click.
- You will experiment with A / B tests : This way you will know which ads will be most effective at the time of publishing.
Apart from this list, you will surely find other advantages in the process of using Google Ads, but it is necessary that you take into account some disadvantages and cons that you will see below.
- It will be a bad investment if you do not know the market: It is recommended that you start a market study before doing SEM campaigns, since it can be more expensive than you think.
- The campaign stops if you do not invest: Even if you are having a good return on investment, it is necessary that you continue to inject money into the campaigns , so your traffic will not stop.
- Users ignore ads: Those who are not interested in buying will instantly ignore your ads.
Distinguish an advertisement and organic result from SERPS
Currently it is very easy to distinguish an organic result from an ad in SERPS, since the implementation of Google Ads even users understand when the results show an ad , since the difference is very obvious. Here is the key, usually Google clearly indicates a label with the name ad.
But there are also other highlights that denote whether it is an organic or paid positioning, for example, some results may even appear in the upper right part of the page, it happens a lot in the case of ads with images. On the other hand, the organic results do not indicate any type of label and hide many details.
SEO and SEM, similarities
But surely you will agree that there are more similarities than differences between SEO and SEM , in fact, the main characteristic they share is the objective of achieving a website with a greater amount of traffic and conversion.
Although there are other aspects that make them more related, such as the following.
- To implement them you must do a preliminary analysis: All the strategies you are going to implement, both in SEO and SEM, must have a specific objective, but to establish them you need to know your audience very well with a previous analysis.
- They require a study of keywords: Both are intimately related by this feature, since keywords play a fundamental role in the operation of the entire search engine.
- The website must be of high quality: If you do not have a good quality site, your conversion rate will not go up, so you will be wasting time and effort on optimization, or a lot of money on ads.
- You can experiment and test in both cases: Although these SEO tests must be given a different approach, they are not exclusive to ad campaigns, you can also do it to test organic optimization strategies , you can also experiment and make the changes that you want and at the time you want.
SEO and SEM, the main differences
So far you already know what the main difference is between the two, SEO uses organic strategies to promote a brand, while SEM implements positioning through a paid system , likewise, in organic optimization it is not necessary to pay for every click. Even so, you can not miss the rest of the differences of both strategies, some that are worth knowing are the following.
- The ads can have call extensions, that is, they include a mobile number so that the user has the possibility to call, instead, in the organic results they use rich fragments, such as lists, emoticons or rating stars.
- In Google Ads you can select a very specific target audience , in organic results it is not possible to do so.
- The results of paid ads are immediate, but in SEO it takes a little longer.
- Organic results can give you long-term gains, on the other hand, ads are short-lived.
- With organic optimization, you can have up to 65% more click-through , which is not the case with ads.
- When you implement an organic optimization strategy you must take into account the changes in the Google algorithm, something that you can ignore with Ads.
- You will also find a clear difference in content, with ads the texts are more promotional, but with SEO you can try different types of writing, incorporating more Inbound content.
SEO vs SEM metrics comparison
The difference between the metrics available at the end of each campaign is also very deep between both strategies, that is why you have this section to make a clearer comparison, below the statistics that you should take into account in each one.
- Number of keywords : When starting an organic campaign you must use a limited number of keywords, but with Ads you can use an unlimited number of keywords in each campaign.
- Cost : Regarding the cost rate you will see that SEO will be governed by the investments you want to make in terms of work, for example, you can hire an external professional or a specialized agency . With AdWords you can also do the same and hire an external agency, but this time you will also have to pay for each visit.
- CTR : This metric is in favor of paid ads, since as they are targeted to a specific audience they can be up to 30% effective , while organic results depend a lot on the position, there are studies that indicate the organic CTR depending on the position, for example this one from Backlinko .
SEO prices vs. SEM prices
It is difficult to talk about an exact price when it comes to search engine positioning strategies, however, everything will depend on the techniques you want to implement , since it would not be fair to say that the ads will be more expensive because you must pay for each visit, Sometimes, the investment for organic results usually reaches a similar cost.
But there is a catch, since you can inquire about the price of the tools that you will need and thus have an estimated price for the entire campaign , this is usually very helpful when you plan to hire external professionals, thus avoiding possible scams. For example, if an agency charged you less than € 300, they may be trying to tease you. This figure clearly indicates low quality SEO or SEM work.
Since analysis tools usually cost approximately € 100 per month, the truth is that a more credible rate is between € 600 and € 1,500 per month, depending on the sector and competition .
Although you must pay attention to the expenses per click in your paid ad campaigns, since if you are going to invest for many days the fee can be an additional € 200. There are many agencies that calculate their fees with a% on the investment in advertising.
Which strategy to choose, SEO or SEM?
By now you should already know a lot about both tools and which one may be best for your company, however, using only one specific tool may not be the best idea. Many experts claim that organic SEO is the best option, especially when you want your company to have more and better results in the future.
But when you want to launch a website for the first time and immediately ads can be your best option. But the truth is that both can complement each other and create a super strategy to give you double sales.
In this way, it is necessary that you evaluate what the needs and objectives of your company are, so you can take into account the following aspects.
- Evaluate your competition, you can choose either of the two strategies, but only if you see that your competition has not yet explored good alternatives according to each case.
- Understand your customers, if you know what they want or need which is better when choosing between organic optimization or paid ads .
- Calculate the cost of each strategy, or ask for a budget if you are going to delegate this work to a professional. If you are just starting with online marketing for your small business, it may be more profitable to start with organic techniques.
- Evaluate expectations for the future, as search engines are constantly changing, it may also be necessary to consider the expectations for the future and the benefits you can expect, for example, artificial intelligence, voice searches, etc. in SEO or hyper-personalization campaigns in SEM.
Conclusion: How to balance SEO and SEM strategies
Once you already have a couple of months implementing any of these strategies, it's time for you to start complementing them, but you don't need to balance your efforts and your investment in half. In fact, many recommend that investing a higher percentage in SEO can provide better results .
Then you could invest 70% more in it and leave the remaining 30% to invest in SEM. What is important, in my opinion, is not to bet on a single acquisition channel , you have to distribute more or less according to ROI, investment in SEO, SEM, Social Networks, Email Marketing, etc.
You will be able to find the perfect balance when you start to analyze the results and adjust them to the needs of your company and the trends of the industry on the Internet.