The Relationship Between SEO and SEM

Aug 09 2019

The Relationship Between Digital Marketing Components: SEO & SEM

Written by Kate Santos

The beginning of the digital era significantly changed how everything works today, particularly in the business world. One of the ways to make sure that a business becomes successful is through good marketing strategies. These techniques help promote and sell products/services through traditional market research and advertising. In the eve of digitisation, these strategies were applied online through email, social media, and search marketing and became what is known today as digital marketing.


Digital marketing refers to any marketing assets or efforts that are online. Some of these assets are websites, video and written content, images, and social media pages to name a few. As for strategies, two of the most effective ones are search engine Optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). These strategies and the relationship between them are the focus of this article.


What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

This a digital marketing method used to optimise a company’s website for it to rank high on the search results list and enable it to maximize the number of natural/organic visitors or traffic. It also refers to the process by which search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing “crawl” content on a website and assess its effectivity to attract traffic. Some of the elements that these search engines evaluate are keywords, tags, and link titles. On the other hand, the crawlers look for link patterns, quality content, and whether a website is designed for users to have a flawless experience.


Three Categories of SEO Techniques

  1. On-Page – this category consists of content creation and keyword research & Optimization which is utilised to optimise each page of a website to target a particular keyword and appeal to search engine


  1. Off-Page – this helps build a good reputation and establish authority for a website by connecting it to other reputable and high-quality websites.


  1. Technical SEO – it optimises non-content components of a website as a whole to enhance its backend performance and foundation.


Each category has its own elements:



An effective SEO plan does not consist of or focus on just one of these techniques. A good SEO agency in Singapore can come up with a strategy that combines all of these techniques to acquire desirable results.


What are the benefits of SEO?

  1. Increased traffic – SEO strategies are used to help a website rank high on the search engine results page. This higher the rank, the more visibility the website obtains and this results in increased organic traffic.


  1. Enhanced website usability – SEO makes websites easier to navigate for search engines, but it simultaneously helps said websites be more navigable for users at the same time.


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


  1. Brand awareness – since SEO techniques 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 their brand.


What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

On the other hand, search engine marketing is a form of digital marketing that utilises paid tactics to obtain visibility in the search results page. It gathers relevant traffic from search engines through sponsored or paid listings.


SEM usually refers to a pay-per-click form of advertising, particularly Google Adwords which is most commonly used for this technique. With this strategy, companies create campaigns that target the best-researched keywords for their products, services, or industry. When users input these keywords, they see ads in the search results page and when a user clicks on the ad, the company is then charged.


What are the benefits of SEM?

  1. Transparency – everything with paid search is easily measured based on elements like leads generation and sales, as well as keyword and ad levels. This way, companies know which is performing and which is not performing.


  1. High conversion rate – with the right techniques in place, companies can expect revenue quickly for relatively low investments.


  1. Geotargeting – it makes it easier to penetrate a market niche to reach potential clients anywhere in the world.


  1. Free exposure – paid search is particularly valuable for branding campaigns as company ads get all the views but would only have to pay when a user actually clicks on it.


What are their similarities and differences?

The main similarity between SEO and SEM is the fact that they both help websites appear and rank high on search results pages. On the other hand, the fundamental element that differs one from the other is that SEM uses paid strategies to appear in searches while SEO utilises organic methods to do this.


Here are some other factors to distinguish these two strategies:



How do they complement each other?

Both of these tools rely heavily on keywords to generate traffic for websites although the strategies they use are different, both focus on traffic flows and its relationship to marketing efforts or activities.


SEO can be considered the foundation for great SEM and when both are properly set up, there is a greater chance of generating high-quality traffic and enhancing conversion rates. If a website itself is SEO-friendly and properly targeted ads are using the correct keywords, then SEM activities have a better chance of being successful by showing up at the top of paid searches. But to do this, a website must have good SEO strategies in place for it to be considered credible by Google – this can be achieved by hiring a reputable SEO or SEM company in Singapore.


For business owners, these tools are very important to get their brands known online and hopefully generate more leads or conversions. The right agency would understand the importance of utilising both these tools to meet their clients’ goals. So it should go without saying that when looking for a digital marketing agency, one of the criteria must be that it offers both SEM and SEO packages in Singapore.

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