How SEO and SEM Work Together

SEO SEM Together

Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM), looking at what they are, how they work, and when they’ll be most effective in your business.

Of course, the real story isn’t SEO vs. SEM. They are not mutually exclusive, although you may focus more on one or the other at different times, depending on your needs. Instead, these are complementary strategies. SEO builds for the long term, while SEM drives results on-demand.

Let’s look again at the pros and cons of each.



  • Builds long-term value
  • Results are consistent over time
  • Visibility builds up your brand reputation


  • Results take a long time to show up
  • You have to keep up with algorithm changes
  • It requires a significant time commitment



  • Rapid results
  • Precise targeting
  • High visibility


  • Highly competitive keywords
  • Traffic depends on your budget
  • Increased customer acquisition costs

These are two strategies that complement one another perfectly. Short-term and long-term results, time-commitment, on down the line.

And the insights you gain from one can help with the other. For example, you may learn from SEM campaigns that certain messages are much more effective than others. You can then focus your site copy and SEO more on those messages, phrases, and keywords to match that performance organically.

By the same token, you may find that certain pages are performing better organically than you expected. That may indicate an opportunity to supplement with an SEM campaign, taking it to a new audience.

When you learn how to skillfully use both SEO and SEM to reach your audience, you’re on the way to a powerhouse online brand.


GoSmallBiz offers small business consulting, CEO advice, and an extensive online learning center for small businesses and entrepreneurs. The mission of is simple – to improve the lives of its customers and give them a better chance at success. The GoSmallBiz business specialists have hundreds of years of combined business experience in both private and public companies, and represent all major industries and professions, including CPAs and specialists in finance, sales, marketing, HR, IT, and operations.