Balancing SEO with SEM – The dichotomy between B2B paid and organic traffic

Adinah Brown

“The paid advertising element allows your website to take that prime position of being listed first, or at least on the first page of a search. Consider SEO to be the bread and butter behind your website and SEM that layer of jam that makes your site stand out in relevant searches, and hopefully, irresistibly click worthy” – Adinah Brown, Leverate


Leverate’s Adinah Brown takes a close look at digital marketing, an all important aspect of retail FX

SEO and SEM could be considered like the two flip sides of a coin that is used to bring potential clients onto your web page. Whilst they are both aimed at this same target, the reality is they work very differently, complimentarily, but differently. In this article we consider their differences and how they can be used at their most effective, in a complementary manner, to give your website the presence it deserves.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and its objective is to attract clients to your webpage organically through their search, without you having to pay for it. This is achieved by optimizing the code of the website so that it reads well to search engines that crawl through your site everyday with spiders and robots, yes I’m being serious. On analyzing the code of the website, its tags, titles, content and much more, it allocates a result of authority and relevance to the user’s search words.

As to how search engines measure and allocate results is an entire science unto itself, but in short they look at the quality of your website in terms of its code and usability. The search engine tries to determine the intent of the searcher and allocates a higher result if they think the content on your web page will match and satisfy the user’s search inquiry.

In order to optimize your standing in this assessment, the content on your website needs to be written based on keyword research. Arguably the most important step in writing content for your web page, this research indicates which words you need to incorporate into your content to ensure that your website is hitting the nail on the head when a relevant search is made.

What is SEM?

In exchange of just a vowel for a consonant, we have SEM which stands for Search Engine Marketing. The core difference is that this time your website is promoted to the top of the search list because of paid marketing. Requiring far less optimization effort, various paid advertising techniques are used instead. This includes Google AdWords, but Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube ads are also all good examples.

The cost of SEM varies greatly depending on the relevant keywords for your industry. The payment structure typically works whereby, you set your daily budget and you pay according to the number of clicks your ad receives.

Like SEO, your SEM ad will be shown at the top of the page if the search engine determines that your website is relevant and of value to the user. But in SEM there is a second contingent where the search engine will rank your page well based also on the amount spent for a particular targeted keyword.

How do you strike the right balance?

To get the most bang for your buck and reward for your effort, SEO and SEM should be used together as a complementary tool. SEM offers itself as an ideal opportunity for those who want to immediately promote their website, but your website will still only perform well in this paid method if it is deemed a good quality website by the search engine.

The SEO knowledge and work invested in helping your site perform well organically fulfills the substantive criteria as to why a search engine would choose to display your landing page over competing others in a search.

The paid advertising element allows your website to take that prime position of being listed first, or at least on the first page of a search. Consider SEO to be the bread and butter behind your website and SEM that layer of jam that makes your site stand out in relevant searches, and hopefully, irresistibly click worthy.


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