SEO vs SEM – Advantages and Disadvantages

SEO vs SEM – Advantages and Disadvantages

Search Engine Optimization vs Search Engine Marketing

  • When we design a digital marketing strategy whose objective is to generate traffic to a website or landing page, we can choose different tools. The most effective in terms of “cost-results” is search engine marketing or e-mail marketing.

Today we are going to write about search engine marketing .

In search engine marketing we can choose two strategies to ensure that users interested in our product/service find our page: organic or SEO positioning or SEM positioning.

To understand what one is and what the other is, we briefly define them before analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of each of them.

Table of Content

  1. What is SEO Positioning?
  2. What is SEM Positioning?

Advantages of SEO and SEM

  1. Advantages of SEO Positioning?
  2. Disadvantages of SEO Positioning?
  3. Advantages of SEM Positioning?
  4. Disadvantages of SEM Positioning?

What is SEO Positioning?

It is the digital marketing strategy whose objective is to attract quality traffic through visibility in search engines such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing.

This is accomplished by on-page and off-page optimization of the page.


It is the digital marketing strategy that includes the tools that base their business model on the cost per click to the advertising platform that a user has made on an ad. The most popular platform is Google Adwords .

Now, when it comes to including one, the other or both in our digital marketing plan ; we have to see what they offer us based on our objectives. For example, if our objective is to register a landing page in a certain period, a campaign, we must choose yes or yes for SEM positioning. But nevertheless, if we want to position our company’s services in search engines, the most profitable thing is to carry out an SEO positioning strategy, which we can support the first months with an SEM positioning campaign, since the SEO results are not immediate.



  • High long-term profitability – Once we have already managed to position ourselves correctly, with constant maintenance and optimization, it will be enough to keep us in the top positions, although we should not trust or conform. In SEO you can always improve positions. The question is to increase the number of visits achieved thanks to SEO month by month.
  • The content of the web, its updating, and its structure influence – Currently, the most important factor that helps us position a website is content. If we have a website programmed in flash, we can do little. Well yes, opt for SEM positioning and pay according to the visits we want to achieve and create a new website. Surely someone is thinking “I know a website in flash and that it is very well positioned.” It is possible, but do not worry, sooner or later Google will penalize it and send it to infinity or beyond.
  • Attract qualified traffic – If we position the web by the keywords that define our product or service, the traffic we achieve will be of quality. Our website will respond to the search of the users, and therefore, their expectations will be met.
  • The investment is stable and independent of the number of visits – SEO positioning is not free. Its cost is the SEO professional’s fees: the cost of their working hours and their knowledge and experience. If someone offers you cheap SEO, be suspicious. You will see how expensive it is in the long run.
    At first, the cost per visit of SEO positioning may be higher than that of SEM, but little by little, depending on how it is positioned, this cost will decrease, being more profitable than SEM.
  • Users click organic results more easily than sponsored results. Everyone says, “I never click on Google ads,” but let’s not forget that it is one of the main sources of Google funding. And this company is not small. However, it is true that the user clicks more easily on organic results than on sponsored ones.


  • Results in the medium or long term -We are not going to see results right away, no matter how hard we try or call our SEO every day to ask how it is going. You have to be patient.
  • It is only possible to position a small number of keywords – It is convenient to position yourself correctly for a reduced number of words and that they really respond to who we are. And not for all those words that occur to us on the go. I have seen customer cases suggest keywords with the same joy as those who suggest possible vacation destinations.
  • Google chooses the landing page – Here we cannot decide which page we want to be positioned. This is decided by Google. The only thing we can do is request that a page that you have positioned that we are not interested in being removed.
    However, if we work correctly on SEO page positioning, we can determine which landing page or pages we want Google to rank for a certain keyword.
  • We cannot determine the message -Unlike SEM campaigns, what appears in search results is unique. We cannot create different versions. In most cases, it will be the title and description of the positioned page. The aspect that we can work.
  • Results cannot be predicted or guaranteed – If an SEO is honest, it will never guarantee us to be in the first position, but it will work as much as possible to achieve the best results.
  • Segmentation is not possible. In SEO positioning we cannot segment by location or demographic profiles. For now, organic search results are the same for everyone.


  • We can position as many keywords as we want – However, it is desirable that the keywords respond as best as possible to what we really offer, so that visits are profitable. It is also very important in a Google Ads campaign to include negative words, those that we are not or that we want to be found by.
  • Short-term profitability – If the campaign is well planned, and periodically we optimize it, we will obtain results from the first moment.
  • We can determine which landing page to direct traffic to – Depending on which page of our website we want to generate traffic, we can create specific campaigns. For example, if we are e-commerce, we will create a campaign for each product directed to its card or its category.
  • We choose the message and creativity – We can choose which message we want to appear in the search engines and create different versions. And depending on which creativity or message works best, optimize the campaign.
  • Neither the content of the web nor its structure influence – What we pointed out before, even a flash page can appear at the top of the sponsored results.
  • It is possible to estimate results before starting – Depending on the investment and the cost per click of each keyword of the campaign, we can predict the results or visits that we will achieve.
  • Possibility of segmenting – Unlike SEO, it is possible to run campaigns that only appear in the search results of our target audience: for example, women between 30 and 45 years of age in Madrid.


  • Visits are based on investment -We invest so much, we get so many visits. The cost per visit varies depending on how well the campaign is optimized, but the results will always be determined by the investment.
  • The moment we stop investing we disappear from Google -As always. And nothing to believe that if we invest in Google Ads, Google will position us better in SEO.
  • SEM Fees + Investment –There are many people who have a coupon with € 75 from Google Ads and plan their campaign. A few days later, he discovers that he has not obtained any results and therefore concludes that Google Ads is used only to lose money. If we want to avoid this, it is best to entrust our planning to an SEM positioning professional. He knows how to monetize our money.
    Therefore, the expense of an SEM campaign implies both the advertising investment and the SEM professional’s fees.

Do you want to add any more advantages or disadvantages to these two tools? It is your turn.

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