SEO vs SEM: Which is Best for Startups?

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Online marketing holds unlimited potential for businesses of every scale, whether it’s a multi-dollar company or a newly founded startup. When it comes to charting out the best marketing strategy, especially for start-ups, there’s a close tie between SEO and SEM.

If you, too, have a startup and are confused about which way to choose, stick by as we present a detailed analysis of how it should go for you!

Let’s start with the basics and try to understand what each of them has to offer!

What is SEO?

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is about optimising the website and its performance with respect to the search engine to boost its visibility organically.

It involves several tactics and strategies that further line up the website’s performance with the search engine’s guidelines, including on-page and off-page SEO.

A reputed SEO company would start by conducting a thorough SEO audit, followed by a detailed competitor analysis. And once the extensive scan is done, the process moves forward to strategy building and implementation. The flow of the campaign is strictly measured and analysed for any gaps or irregularities.

Advantages & Disadvantages of SEO


SEO is known for delivering long-term results. Once you get invested in the different ways of performing the SEO for your business, you are likely to get results that last for years. SEO works from the root level and ensures your website gains organic visibility and traffic that is there to stay. Also, among the major attractions is that it is cost-effective. Compared to other modes of marketing, SEO offers a reasonable resort and ensures that the work is done at the basic level, providing a firm foundation for the website to grow with time.

The best part of SEO is that it works in tandem with other tactics to create a positive brand image. It might not have a direct impact on bringing the actual traffic and leads but works in the background to get your company the loyal clientage. SEO offers sustainable growth to companies and helps establish fair trust and credibility so that the customers feel confident and comfortable transacting with your company.


On the downside, SEO can be time-consuming when you want quick results. It takes about months to work towards creating a reliable and credible source. While competition is so high and every single company is striving to get on the first rank of SERPs, it can sometimes be hard to make things work even if you are doing everything in the right manner and proportion. Also, there are technical complexities involved that require a high standard of precision and expertise by an SEO Company. Other than this, there can be regular algorithm updates that call for frequent changes in methods and tactics to secure the top positions in the SERPs.

Considering all these elements, it won’t be wrong to say that while we keep our businesses well-invested in the ways of SEO, there still is a limited scope of control that we have over the results. And while we have this conclusion, SEO cannot be overlooked if you want your business to succeed in the digital race.

What is SEM?

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing, which is a paid form of brand promotion. It includes running ads on the search engine to generate traffic and leads. The difference it has with SEO is just about being the paid mode. SEO focuses on getting the results in an organic manner, whereas SEM wholly focuses on bringing in the leads following a paid channel.

Now if you are a startup or running any sort of business, you must be thinking if SEM is the right way to promote your business. Well, here’s a detailed analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of opting for SEM. Go through it and decide for yourself whether it suits your business goals and budget. If yes, at what stage should you start with it?

Advantages & Disadvantages of SEM


SEM includes the paid advertisement on SERPs. While you are trying to bring brand awareness among the audience, the biggest advantage that comes with it is the propagation and promotion among the targeted audience. Unlike other forms of marketing that let the ball in the court of their audience, SEM brings you the opportunity to do the advertisement only for those who are genuinely interested in investing and looking for brands that can meet their needs. The ad you run would be displayed in the top results (if the bid goes right), where they search for similar results and queries.

The next in line is getting instant results. SEM includes direct advertisement and branding, where it gets instant results if it has to. After your ad is approved for a selected spot on the SERP, you are more likely to receive the traffic, followed by the leads, unlike SEO, where you must prepare the entire ground from scratch and funnel down the audience step by step.

Also, if you have the resources to invest in SEM, you’ll have a detailed idea of how much you are ready to invest and in what proportion it will bring you the desired results. This way, you have complete control over the marketing process.


On the downside, SEM can be a highly challenging and costly process to keep up with. Apart from demanding huge sums of money on a continuous basis, it may not produce the results that you are expecting. Also, there can be click frauds which can sometimes be hard to detect and stand as a barrier to achieving the targets intended for a particular campaign. The other drawback of investing in SEM is that with increased online awareness and activity, users are now smart enough to sideline the ads and jump to the links that have gained rankings based on their sheer merit. This is where the whole purpose of SEM gets defeated, and SEO gets supremacy over paid-marketing tactics.

Also, there can be other limitations, like users may get tired and disinterested in seeing the same ad over and over again and may not act how you want them to. Besides, you may still be spending a hefty budget on marketing and may not get the returns you expect.

Final Verdict

After having a 360-degree view of the whole subject, you’ll have a clear idea of how you can benefit from SEO and SEM based on your specific requirements. Both have their positives and downsides. And based on your custom business goals, you can choose to have them utilised for your short-term and long-term business targets.

As a professional SEO company that has been providing expert consultation to their clients with respect to web design and seo services, we suggest that If you’re a start-up, choose to split your budget, as both have certain contributions to make in getting your business under the spotlight. Once your website starts getting the recognition and visibility you desire, you can choose to manage your budget accordingly and invest where you get the maximum returns for your business.

Also, if you are looking for a reliable SEO company for your website, Make My Website is a name you can trust. We have managed to pull numbers and results for our clients and stand tall on our claim of offering our clients superior-grade SEO services. If you too wish to seek advantage of our expertise, give us a call at 1300 769 302.

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