Outreach Monks

SEO Vs. SEM: Which Is Better?

seo vs sem

If you are new to the digital marketing business, you need to understand the basics first. SEO and SEM are like the two sides of the coin with their own strong and weak points. Knowing them in detail will help you use them at the right time and at the right place. In this guide, you will learn the differences between SEO and SEM, which will help you master your marketing strategies easily. So, let’s dive in! 

When it comes to digital marketing, you come across several terms, and SEO and SEM are two. They are two strong and effective means to take your website to the top search results. The letters ‘S’ and ‘E’ in SEO vs. SEM stands for the search engine. Whereas the letters ‘O’ and ‘M’ make the difference. 

SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization, and SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. Search engines are the most important component in the digital marketing ecosystem, and everything is inclined only towards them. The search marketing industry includes SEO and SEM, 

both of which aid in your ascent to the first page of search results. Search engines of all kinds, including Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, and others. They both are not entirely the same. However, there are a few things that they share in common. 

The marketing strategy you want to opt for your website depends on a number of factors. This comprehensive guide on SEO vs. SEM will help you choose the best for your next project. 

What Is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process designed to enhance the ranking of your website on search engines through unpaid types of online advertising. It emphasizes traffic, quality content, quantity, and relevancy. If your website passes all the required parameters, it may be positioned at the top position in the search results. The Google search algorithms are aimed to rank web pages once they meet the set criteria. The Google bots are so intelligent that you can not easily manipulate them and make your web page rank higher. You need to follow some authentic approaches to perform better in search results.


How Does SEO Work?

Search engine optimization is the process where bots crawl a web page and check how suitable the content present is for the user query. Many things will be analyzed, and on the basis of those results, a web page will be ranked. The analysis is performed considering factors such as keywords, content quality, meta title, tags, meta description, links (both internal as well as external), quantity, and more. Then a page is ranked based on its capacity to attract traffic. 

So, what matters when it comes to SEO?

  • The strength of your backlink profile
  • Effective meta description and meta title. 
  • Well-structured URL. 
  • Content quality and quantity. 

You will likely receive good results if you can manage these things on your website. 

“80% of marketers believe search marketing is the most effective customer acquisition tactic.”

Benefits of SEO

SEO has many benefits, and some of them are listed below. 

  • Website traffic can be improved without any paid practices. 
  • SEO is a strong long-term strategy. 
  • The brand credibility and visibility are improved to a great level with SEO. 
  • It greatly improves the user experience. 
  • You can focus on more organic terms than paid ones. 

What Is SEM?


Search engine marketing is a specified type of marketing that uses paid search platforms to get visible in the search results. It includes some unpaid methods too. You must have seen some ads appearing on the top of Google results; most of the time, that’s the paid results. It involves pay-per-click or cost-per-click results. Different search engines have different advertising services that include:

  • Google Adwords in Google 
  • Search Advertisements in Yahoo
  • Bing Advertisements in Bing 
  • Baidu Advertising in Baidu 

SEM is an umbrella term and SEO and PPC (Pay per click) fall under it. For better SEO, you need to focus on both SEO and PPC. While SEO pays attention to ranking 100% organically, SEM makes use of PPC and other paid practices to gain visibility. That’s the major difference between SEO and SEM, i.e., paid and unpaid strategies. 

How Does SEM Work?

SEM has become a significant part of a marketing strategy keeping the ever-changing Google algorithms in mind. Google algorithms are made in such a way that search queries should give more relevant results depending on the other useful information available, like location and so. 


SEM works with paid advertisements to secure your business products or services’ visibility on the search engine result pages (SERPs). Whenever a user types a query, SEM ensures that your product or service is displayed at the top of search results as an answer to that search query. 

There are several SEM tools and SEM Ad Auction components that you can use to make your keywords work in the search results. For instance, Advertising Research can help you keep an eye on your competitors’ landing sites and ad copy, giving you insights into improving your campaigns and how to outperform them. 

Benefits of SEM 

  • Using the SEM technique can instantly help you reach your target audiences. 
  • Brand awareness will get a boost. 
  • You may use SEO or PPC methods to get the results. 
  • You are free to place ads and get quick results. 
  • Make sure the ads you are posting are fully optimized. 

Core SEO Techniques

If you use certain SEO techniques in the right way, they can give a quick boost to the overall SEO of a website. Let’s quickly get through them and see how they work and how you can use them to amplify your site SEO. 

1. On-Page SEO 

On-page SEO is all about optimizing your website for chosen keywords. Keywords that you wish your website to rank for. They are actually the triggered words or phrases people are typing in the search engines as their queries. When you optimize your website for those selected keywords, it is an on-page SEO optimization technique. It includes the following things.

  • Clear, understandable, and well-structured text.
  • Make your content relevant to search queries. 
  • Clean, short, and easy-to-remember URLs
  • Add key phrases in the text, meta title, meta description, and heading like H1, H2…
  • Suitable alt tag for images

2. Off-Page SEO 

Off-Page SEO is a practice of getting other websites’ trust in the form of authority backlinks and brand mentions. It aids in boosting the brand’s ranking and online visibility. As the technique to boost link-building profiles for websites is tricky, many businesses rely on link-building services, blogger outreach, and niche edits. It increases brand recognition in their respective niche and drives organic traffic. This SEO technique is more beneficial for websites that aim to get more visibility in the search results.  

  • Link-building is the core of off-page SEO. 
  • Niche-relevance is mandatory in any SEO practice. 
  • Social media marketing is crucial to attracting potential audiences.

3. Technical SEO

Technical SEO is about keeping the technical aspects of a website up-to-date. It includes website coding, scripts, page load time, URL structure, website speed, schema, XML sitemaps, and more. Everything on your website should be rightly placed so that search engine crawlers can easily navigate and index your web pages.

What is PPC?

PPC stands for the Pay-Per-Click model for digital advertising. In this practice, advertisers have to pay a fee every time their ad is clicked. PPC advertisements can be composed of text, graphics, videos, or a combination of these. It comes in various sizes and forms to get user attention. They can appear on websites, social media platforms, search engines, and more.

Pay per click PPC

Search engine advertising is the most common form of PPC. It enables advertisers to bid for ad placement in search engine sponsored links as a result of the search queries when a user types a query in the search engines. 

SEO Vs. SEM: Key Differences

There are several differences between SEO and SEM approaches. But there are certain things on the basis of which you can easily differentiate which practice you should use for your website. 

  • The primary difference between SEO and SEM is that SEM is a paid strategy, and SEO is an unpaid strategy. 
  • SEO helps you gain user attention and higher visibility using organic methods. 
  • SEM is a paid marketing technique, so you will have to pay some specified amount of money in return for the results for your website. 
  • SEO is a totally organic search strategy that can get equally effective results for your website. 
  • SEM marketing practice may be a little heavier on your pocket. 
  • SEM is a broad term that includes both SEO and PPC. 
  • There are various types of SEO techniques that you can use to grab user attention and higher search rankings. 
  • SEO takes time to show results, whereas SEM may show you some instant results. 
  • There are tools that can help you with your SEO and SEM needs.

Each has different strengths and weaknesses, but when properly united, they can give you a real competitive advantage.

SEO Vs. SEM: Comparison Table

SEO Vs. SEM Comparison

How Do SEO and SEM Go Hand-in-Hand? 

One thing is certain both SEO and SEM greatly count on keywords to drive traffic. But the techniques and methodologies they use are different. 

Search engine optimization will help in the overall growth of your site. So that people can find you easily. 

Whereas search engine marketing will help you get found in the search results using some paid techniques. 

Search engine optimization will set a roadmap for getting high traffic and a better conversion rate. 

They both are closely related and have many things in common. Thus, in order to get better results in SEM, you need to strengthen your SEO too. 

SEO and SEM: Future Prospective 

SEO and SEM are here to stay. Google, as one of the biggest search engines, constantly updates its algorithms for rankings. That means every site owner needs to stay abreast of these changing parameters to maintain their website rankings. 

SEO is more about taking care of every aspect of your website so that your site can perform higher in the search results. After all, it is about getting to the top of the first page in the search results. 

SEM will give you results by all means and in a short period of time. So, you choose any strategy that you find suitable based on your needs. 

Happy Digital Marketing!

SEO Vs. SEM: Which is Better? 

This brings us to the end of this thorough SEO vs. SEM comparison guide. But deciding which is better between them boils down to your business goals and budget. But if you look at the results and services, they both are offering you to make your decision keeping your site aim in mind. SEO is a long-run formula, whereas SEM gives you results in a short duration. 

However, both these practices are highly useful in disposition. Knowing the differences makes it clear which method should be used at which place. Many people still see SEO and SEM as the same thing. But it’s actually not! Despite that, they should be a part of your marketing strategy. If you are still confused about these two, you can leave your message below in the comments section. I would love to hear from you. 

What Is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process designed to enhance the ranking of your website on search engines through unpaid types of online advertising. It emphasizes traffic, quality content, quantity, and relevancy.

How Does SEO Work?

Search engine optimization is the process where bots crawl a web page and check how suitable the content present is for the user query.

What Is SEM?

Search engine marketing is a specified type of marketing that uses paid search platforms to get visible in the search results. It includes some unpaid methods too.

How Does SEM Work?

SEM works with paid advertisements to secure your business products or services' visibility on the search engine result pages (SERPs).

SEO Vs. SEM: Which is Better?

This brings us to the end of this thorough SEO vs. SEM comparison guide. But deciding which is better between them boils down to your business goals and budget.

Marketing Analytics: 8 Best Ways to Track Your Online Marketing Activity


Do you know how profitable your marketing campaigns are? Have you identified your highest ROI channels? Do you know which marketing strategies drive traffic and conversions to your business?

Tracking your digital marketing activities is critical for allocating your budget in a way that enables you to meet your business goals.

For example, a 2022 HubSpot Report shares that 80% of businesses use paid social media advertising. And Facebook and YouTube are the most popular platforms for

brands to spend their advertising budget.

The kicker? Their investment wasn’t based on guesswork.

Failing to track your marketing efforts means you’ll spend money on platforms and strategies that don’t guarantee a return.

So, if you’re not already tracking your marketing analytics, now’s the time to start. Here are eight ways to track your marketing activities:

Use a High-Quality CRM

Did you know that the CRM market revenue is projected to grow to $49.6 billion globally by 2025?

A high-quality CRM system collects, organizes, and manages all your customer-related information. As a result, you can streamline communication, track the customer journey for every person you interact with, improve data management, and enhance the customer experience.

One effective all-in-one CRM platform is HubSpot, which centers everything you do around your customers.

Capabilities of the HubSpot CRM

HubSpot CRM ties every marketing interaction to closed revenue. It helps you track the whole customer lifecycle — from anonymous visitors to loyal customers. The CRM system also breaks down marketing reports by contact or company-level properties to identify key trends over time.

As a result, you can create behavioral events and monitor actions taken on your website to understand users’ behavior and trigger automation workflows.

HubSpot's marketing analytics dashboard

Image Source

HubSpot CRM also measures your website’s performance in real time with key website metrics. Therefore, you can analyze how each page performs and identify which traffic sources generate the most website contacts, sessions, and customers over time.

With such information, you can focus your marketing initiatives on strategies that generate the most value.

Once you set up your marketing campaigns, HubSpot CRM will give you detailed reports for each of your marketing channels — website, landing pages, social media accounts, emails, blog posts, etc.

HubSpot's data analytics dashboard with various metrics

Image Source

You can then add any marketing report to your dashboard to track the crucial metrics in one place — and share the insights with the rest of your marketing team.

Other Great CRM Options

While all CRM systems should help you build solid relationships with your customer base, there’s no one-size-fits-all system. CRM solutions can differ significantly depending on the features they focus on.

Here are some other great CRM options that can help with your data analytics:

  • Zoho — a cloud-based CRM solution designed for small and medium-sized businesses. Its interface has CRM tools such as product configuration and reporting, customer analytics, sales and marketing automation, and customer support.
  • Zendeska CRM platform that offers solutions to sales and service teams. Its fully-customizable help desk solution simplifies things for customers, prepares your teams for success, and keeps your business on track.
  • Monday.com — a highly customizable, robust platform that helps you monitor all aspects of the sales cycle (from lead generation to post-sale support) and streamline your workflows.
  • Salesforce — a cloud-based CRM platform with an extensive network of add-ons for sales, customer service, marketing, and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

Use Designated Domains With Tracking Capabilities for Each Marketing Channel

Using designated domains helps you track which channel is responsible for the highest increase in your website traffic. You can study that channel and keep adjusting your marketing strategies and domain portfolio to serve your target audience better.

Designating domains to specific channels also allows you to segment your audience and target different niches.

For example, you can create a primary website with content to appeal to your primary demographics (let’s say, teenage girls). You can then leverage a different domain to appeal to a secondary demographic (middle-aged women).

As a result, you can test how your content performs for different audiences and adjust accordingly.

Also, domains play a significant role in keyword relevance and rankings, so using multiple domains can help you rank for a wide selection of keywords and phrases.

Leverage Website Analytics

Screenshot of a website's marketing analytics dashboard

Image Source

Website analytics tools collect, report, and analyze marketing data from visitors interacting with your website. This data includes traffic sources, bounce rate, new and returning visitors, and time spent on the website.

Such data helps you understand your website visitors better and use those insights to improve the user experience. For example, if you notice that most users access your website through a mobile device, you can prioritize making your website more mobile-friendly.

Web analytics can also shape your SEO strategy and content marketing.

For instance, when you look at your most viewed posts, you can identify what types of content perform best. If you notice how-to WordPress tutorials make up most of your top viewed posts, you can narrow your focus from definition articles to how-to WordPress tutorials.

Or, maybe email and organic traffic are your top drivers, and paid advertising channels are your lowest (16% of users say they hate Google Ads and actively avoid clicking on them). In that case, you can shift resources to invest more in your email and organic strategies than paid ads.

Track Your Conversion Rate (CVR)

Conversion Rate formula

Conversion rate shows how good your marketing strategy is at getting consumers to do what you want them to do — make a purchase, sign up for a subscription, call your business, or submit a form. Generally, the higher your conversion rate, the better your marketing strategy.

The conversion rate will also help you know if a marketing strategy costs more than the average order value (AOV) you get from it. And that becomes crucial when you want to hire Google ads advertisers or set return on investment (ROI) expectations when scaling a campaign.

Conversion rate is also crucial in customer acquisition. Optimizing it lowers customer acquisition costs by revealing which aspects, when improved, will create the most straightforward path to gaining visitors.

That said, a conversion rate doesn’t always have to refer to a click — it can also mean conversion events further down the funnel.

For example, you can calculate the percentage of users who installed an app or completed an in-app action. That way, you’ll identify valuable users and feed this information into the funnel to improve targeting and optimize campaign performance.

Monitor Your Ad Conversion Tracking

Ad tracking account dashboard

Image Source

Conversion tracking lets you see what happens after a customer interacts with your ads — whether they signed up for your newsletter, purchased a product, downloaded your app, or made a call to your company.

With such information, you can adjust your budget, keywords, bidding, and other aspects to optimize your ad campaigns. It’ll also help you apply the strategies of your more successful marketing campaigns to those that need improvement.

For example, UpCity shares that 47% of high-income earners pay more attention to ads around events, holidays, and special occasions than 34% of middle-income and 32% of lower-income earners.

If you have an e-commerce store, it makes sense to target high-income earners with your ads during holidays and events. During these periods, those with disposable income are more likely to purchase than those who are more careful with their finances.

Use “How Did You Find Out About Us?” Surveys

The “How did you find out about us?” survey is one of the most effective customer feedback tools businesses use to know more about their customer base.

Here’s an example:

"How did you hear about us?" survey

Image Source

You can feature this question as a standalone survey or include it in a feedback form before or after a transaction.

By knowing how customers discover your business, you can focus your customer service, marketing, and sales efforts on audiences and channels that are best for the company.

To make this question as effective as possible, you should understand the context in which your customers found you. One good question to ask, along with how customers found you, is what they were looking for when they first came across your website.

Did they find you while looking for a solution to a problem? Were they trying to acquire a new skill? Were they looking to replace a product or service they used with yours?

By understanding the context, you can direct your marketing efforts toward creating content that meets your customers’ needs.

Similarly, if they found you on specific platforms or websites, it’ll help you decide whether to publish guest posts, niche edits or invest more in link-building with the websites.

Leverage Phone Tracking

Phone tracking lets you track which marketing activities generate calls and spark interest in potential customers. You can use a different phone number for each marketing channel and track incoming calls using call tracking software.

For example, someone who found your website through a Google Ad would call a different phone number from someone who found your business on Facebook. So, you’ll know which marketing campaign influenced the potential customer to contact your business.

With that, you can identify which ads, keywords, or campaigns successfully attract prospects to your business. You can then laser-focus your efforts to optimize those marketing strategies for more conversions, boosting your ROI.

That can be a game-changer for your business, resulting in better budget management and reducing customer acquisition costs.

Also, you can analyze details of a lost lead, including the service or product the caller was interested in. And use these details to create emails or retargeting ads that address their concerns.

On the other hand, if you are a small business, you can manage everything using a phone system. There are service providers who offer services calling, meeting, messaging, texting, and faxing to make everything simpler.

Use KPI Tracking

Key performance indicators (KPI) metrics

Image Source

KPI tracking involves monitoring how key performance indicators (KPIs) change over time. Changes in KPIs can indicate which marketing programs are effective and which need to be improved.

Here are some crucial KPIs you should be tracking:

  • Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) — If you have a positive ROMI, your marketing campaigns generate a net profit over expenses.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) — Increasing the CLV allows you to keep in touch with customers, reduce the rate of disengagement, and estimate a reasonable cost per acquisition.
  • Lead Conversion Rate —  This will help you understand how your sales funnel is performing and which campaign has the most significant impact on your marketing ROI.
  • Cost per lead — This will help you make more data-driven decisions and have control of your advertising budget.

To choose efficient marketing KPIs, consider the following: What is the core purpose of your business? What results do you need to achieve for your business to grow?

Answering these questions will help you choose marketing KPIs that match your business objectives and environment.

Final Thoughts: Marketing Analytics — How To Track Your Marketing Activities

Measuring your marketing performance doesn’t have to be over-complicated — you just need a clear objective and plan to know how to revise your strategies and reallocate your budget accordingly.

The easiest way to track business analytics is through Google Analytics. It’s free, and Google provides several tools to get you started.

Which marketing analytics tracking method do you find the most effective? Share the post with your answers.

Author Bio:

Autumn, a graduate of the illustrious Howard University, is an Associate Marketing Manager and SEO Strategist on HubSpot’s Link Building team. When she’s not talking about link building or SEO, you can find her in the recording studio making R&B hits, traveling, or studying for law school. Keep up with Autumn on Instagram or LinkedIn.