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The beginning of the digital era significantly changed how everything works today, particularly in the business world. Instead of promoting products or services in newspapers, magazines, TV or yellow pages, businesses use the Internet. They learned how to apply their traditional advertising strategies online through email, social media, and search marketing and became what is known today as digital marketing. Two of the main pillars of digital marketing strategies are SEO and SEM in Singapore.


Digital marketing refers to any marketing assets or efforts that are online. These assets are websites, video and written content, images, social media pages, and more. When it comes to strategies, two of the most effective ones are search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). 


But how do SEO and SEM complement each other, anyway? 


This article will explain about the relationship between SEO and SEM. But first, let us discuss the difference between SEO and SEM in digital marketing.



What Is SEO And SEM in Digital Marketing?


What Is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?


SEO or search engine optimisation in Singapore is the process of optimising a website to make its pages rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs) organically. The word organically means that potential customers can find one of your site’s pages when they search for something on search engines like Google, Yahoo!, or Bing without having to spend on advertising fees.


It happens when the bots of search engines ‘crawl’ to the content on a website and assess its relevance against the search term. If the search engine bots consider your website as highly relevant, the higher your page will rank on SERPs and hence increase the likelihood of searchings clicking onto your page. When a potential customer clicks on the URL of the search result on SERPs, it increases the traffic to your website. SEO is a complicated segment of digital marketing. 


The ranking requirements change rapidly and constantly. Google bots, powered by AI, sieve through billions of website content on the internet and contextually analyse the content. The bots match the content relevant to the keywords to deliver more accurate search results. Hence, SEO requires constant optimisation. You can engage SEO services from an SEO agency in Singapore.


SEO Benefits


In summary, the benefits of SEO are:


  • Enhanced Website UsabilitySEO makes websites in Singapore easier to navigate for search engines, but it simultaneously helps said websites be more navigable for users at the same time.


  • Cost-Effectiveness – It is one of the most cost-effective digital marketing strategies of SEO vendors in the market today as it targets consumers online who are actively looking for services or products to purchase.


  • Brand Awareness – Since SEO services and techniques in Singapore help your website reach the top position on the results page, this translates to significant impressions and increased exposure for a company’s website and its brand. So, finding the right SEO company would be a digital marketing advantage.


  • Evergreen source of organic traffic Once the website has stabilised and maintained its top position on the search engine results page with the help of SEO in Singapore, the brand has also established an evergreen source of website organic traffic.


  • Boost credibility – In SEO, the higher your rank is on SERP, the more credible your website is because search engines consider quality and user experience when ranking websites. The best SEO company in Singapore will help you meet these considerations.


  • Local searches dominance78% of local internet searches result in offline purchases. Local SEO strategies can help your website dominate local searches.


ALSO READ: The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Technical SEO



What Is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?


Before the age of digital marketing, brands advertised on other mediums, including newspapers and magazines. Newspaper and magazine advertising prices depend on several factors, including ad size, placement, and circulation number. For example, a full-page ad is more expensive than smaller ad spaces. Ads that appear near the front page tend to be more pricey as well.


In Search engine marketing (SEM),  it all starts with the bidding. Brands and marketers bid for keywords. The higher your bidding price, the more chances you have to rank higher. For instance, if agency A bids for the keyword ‘shoulder bag Singapore’ for SGD5, while agency B bids for the same keyword for SGD6, agency B ranks higher. The amount a brand is willing to pay per click matters.


Besides the bid for keywords, other ranking factors that come to play are the relevance of the content, meta title and descriptions, dynamic ads campaign, and website authority.


READ MORE: Why Is It Important To Run Both Search Engine Ads And Social Media Ads?


With SEM services in Singapore companies can create a campaign that targets the best-researched keywords for their products, services, or industry. When a potential customer inputs these keywords and searches online, they will see the word ad right beside it on SERPs, and when they click on the ad, the company will have to pay.  And that is when the pay-per-click got its name from.


Here is an example of what an SEM campaign in digital marketing would look like on search engines. 


Example Of SEM Campaign


READ MORE: How To Create A Successful SEM Campaign?


SEM Benefits


In summary, the benefits of SEM in digital marketing are:


  • Transparency – All elements involved in SEM campaigns are always on track. That is why companies can know which is performing well and which one is not, based on lead generation and sales. Find an SEM company in Singapore.


  • High Conversion Rate – With the digital marketing techniques in SEM campaigns, companies can expect revenue quickly for relatively low investments.


  • More Brand Exposure – Since SEM campaigns are at the top of the search engine result pages, more people would see them when they search for something online.


  • Geo-targeted ads – SEM allows brands to target audiences with ads based on their location, country, and language. Find an SEM company in Singapore that can help you roll out geo-targeted ads.


  • Quick and easy to implement – Google Ads makes running an SEM campaign quick and manageable by allowing the brands to schedule their rollout, identify the performance speed, and further optimise the ads. It is possible with the assistance of an SEM vendor.


  • Fast results – It may take time for SEO organic traffic to build up. Since SEM ranks your website on SERP instantly, the traffic and lead increase are also instant. A reliable SEM agency in Singapore ensures your SEM strategies will bear results.



What Are The Similarities And Differences Between SEO And SEM In Digital Marketing?


The main similarity between Singapore SEO and SEM is that websites appear and rank high on search results pages when both SEO and SEM campaigns are well optimised. The only difference is that SEM uses paid strategies to appear in searches, while SEO utilises organic methods.


To make it easier to understand, look at this chart below.


SEO vs SEM Comparison Chart

Enhances traffic for website
Researches and target specific keywords
Helps website rank high on SERPs
Requires consistent testing and optimisation
Great for testing
Provides value overtime
Visibility Website's ranking on SERP Campaign Optimisation
Results Takes time Immediate
Costs Long Term Investment Pay-per-click
SEO And SEM Comparison Chart



Enhances traffic for website


Both SEO and SEM enhance website traffic, although their methods are different. SEO gains organic traffic by achieving higher rankings on the search engine results. SEO focuses on strategies, such as using targeted keywords, producing high-quality and original content, improving the website’s user experience, and utilising title tags and meta descriptions.


SEM gets traffic by promoting the content through paid search engine advertising. In return, the content ranks high on SERPs. It will still use some of SEO practices in Singapore, such as keyword implementation and proper headlines and title tags. But ultimately SEM campaigns are optimised to rank for ad results which is above the organic results on SERP.


Researches and target specific keywords


Both SEO and SEM rely on keywords heavily requiring keyword research, analysis, and implementation.


Keyword research in SEO helps find and analyse search terms people usually use when searching on search engines, like Google and Bing. Having a great selection of keywords and using them in the article properly make the content relevant to the queries, thus increasing its ranking.


SEM also conducts keyword research to show the right results to the search terms and keywords. Once identified, the brands or marketers will bid for these keywords, hence, paid advertising.


Helps website rank high on SERPs


The goal of SEO and SEM is to rank high, but the timeline to achieving it can be different.


It may take time for content that uses SEO practices to generate results. According to Semrush, it would take 6 to 12 months. But with consistent optimisation, you can yield steady results.


On the other hand, SEM results are immediate if the campaigns are optimised well. SEM campaigns get premium spots on SERPs, generating website traffic. Nevertheless, it is possible to rank your website using both techniques.


Requires consistent testing and optimisation


In order to rank high or maintain a website’s already high rank, brands and marketers must be consistent with their SEO practices. Google, the biggest search engine globally, updates their algorithm more than 500 times a year, while its broad core updates occur every few months.


These changes make it difficult to rank high on organic SERPs. Hence, brands and marketers must continue optimisation to keep up with the changes.


SEM also needs optimisation. Although Google considers the maximum bid for keywords and search terms, it also takes into account the Quality Score of the website. It includes the click-through rate, keyword relevance, page quality and user experience. These factors need constant optimisation to receive a higher Quality Score.


Great for testing


Testing refers to the changes applied on a website in order to measure their impacts on the ranking. Testing is a risk in SEO primarily because it may have positive and negative effects on the website. The implementation also takes time. It may backfire as well, affecting all of your pages. All the months and years of hard work to achieve a high rank may be gone due to these failed tests.


SEM is more flexible for testing primarily because paid ads can be easily turned off, make revisions and refinement, and get test results in no time.


Provides value overtime


Although SEO in Singapore requires long-haul strategy implementation and maintenance, its results are more sustainable and have higher quality. Once you achieve your desired rank, you can do consistent optimisation to secure the spot.


On the other hand, SEM may have quick effects, but in terms of sustainability, it does not have the upper hand. In order to maintain the top position, the brand must continue paying for the ad space.




There is a hairline difference as to how SEO and SEM achieve maximise visibility. SEO relies on organic ranking. There are multiple steps to rank your website organically, such as proper keyword implementation, relevance and quality of the content, usage of meta titles, meta descriptions, alt texts, and backlinks. 


On the other hand, SEM ranking is based on campaign optimisation. Besides getting the highest bid for a keyword in order to rank high on SERP, there should also be search retargeting, which allows the brand to display ads to potential customers. 


Ad account structure also matters. Grouping ad campaigns by their product or service focus increases your SEM campaign performance.

SEM is greatly dependent on the strategist to know how to read past data, gain insights and suggest actions that can be implemented for the ad.




It takes time and rigorous effort, and consistency to rank and maintain the top spot on organic results using SEO tactics. SEM has immediate results, displaying the content on the premium spots on SERP.




SEO is a long-term investment. There are lots of areas that need attention, optimisation, and maintenance in SEO. For instance, an SEO agency in Singapore must invest in link acquisitions and tuning the website. Brands also have to spend on a team of professionals who will work and implement SEO strategies. 


These people are the:


  • SEO Specialists
  • SEO Copywriters
  • Keyword Researchers
  • On-Page Specialist
  • Off-Page Specialist
  • Website Developers for Technical SEO
  • Website Developers for Regular Website Maintenance


The number of pages that need to be optimised and the intensity of competition also affect the pricing. Acing these departments and maintaining their performance will surely benefit the brand in the long run, since it is a source of steady traffic.


Meanwhile, SEM depends on bidding keywords. Brands bid for keywords. Your bid dictates how your SEM campaigns display on SERP. For example, if brand A bids for a keyword for $3 while brand B bids for $2, brand A has a higher chance to rank higher.


Furthermore, if brand A is able to bid for the ad space at $3, they have to pay $3 for every click their campaign gets, hence, the name pay-per-click.



How SEO and SEM Complement Each Other?


Both SEO and SEM marketing heavily rely on keywords search terms on search engines to generate and drive traffic to a website. That is why they are not competing services but complementary. Though the methods used for each other are different, both focus on the same thing—traffic flows. 


As mentioned above, traffic flow is when someone clicks on the content on SERPs. They could be anyone who is searching for something on search engines, and they could either stumble upon that content through organic results (SEO) or paid results (SEM).


Most people without digital marketing knowledge  would not know whether it is an SEO or SEM URL. However, generally, people know that the results shown on SERPs are the most relevant answers or solutions to their inquiries. 


They would not guess which is which since they are irrelevant to them. That is why combining SEM and SEO services in Singapore is very crucial in your digital marketing strategy. If you want more people to find your brand online, you should use both. Doing so would help you reach more potential customers and lead them to your website.


The only problem, however, is that your website should be SEO-friendly. Otherwise, combining SEO and SEM in your campaigns would not work. Instead of getting more chance of brand exposure, it would be the opposite. Therefore, make sure to optimise your website first before you release your campaign. An SEO consultant in Singapore can help you with the SEO and SEM strategies.


READ MORE: SEO 101: How To Optimise Your eCommerce Website?





Both SEO and SEM in Singapore are significant for businesses to raise brand awareness online and hopefully generate more traffic, leads and conversions. Just make sure before you publish any campaign, you have added everything, from keywords to links, to gain more traction. 


If you need help creating campaigns for either one of these strategies, reach out to an SEO and SEM company in Singapore. Contact OOm at 6391-0930 to help you raise your brand awareness online.

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