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Should Our Company Be Doing SEM Instead of SEO?

By Erin  |   Business Website Tips | Online Marketing

Should Our Company Be Doing SEM Instead of SEO?

We don’t need SEM.
(Or do we??)

We hear a variation of this question often: “I don’t need paid advertising, I need SEO… right?”

Depending on past experiences, who you talk to, what blog posts you read, and the current trends in your industry, you might have the impression that SEO is better than SEM, or that SEM can wait.

Over the years though, we’ve found that, quite interestingly, because good SEO results are often quite hard to come by (read: lots of time, money, and energy), clients actually get intrigued and sometimes even hyper-focused on SEO—even to the complete exclusion of other sources of traffic and growth.

Here’s how we approach the comparison.

If we suspect SEO is dominating the conversation with a client or prospective client when SEM might have the potential to truly move the needful for them, we usually recommend rewinding the conversation and starting back at the beginning.

What are the goals of your business?
What are the goals of your website?

Having a deep understanding of the answers to these questions means that we can run projections on both SEO and SEM (like Google AdWords) for a company—and if we find SEM might be a great fit, we’ll then bring it to the table.

After all, if your big-picture goal is online lead growth, or higher revenue, does it matter whether you’re using SEO, SEM or both? As long as you’re seeing a wildly successful, positive return on your investment, shouldn’t all the options be considered?

Where oh where can one begin?

If you’re wondering how a company like yours could possibly get started with figuring out how to select the right online marketing path for growth, consider what most of our online marketing clients have found most useful: an online marketing and website audit.

After looking carefully at dozens of factors relating to your website, industry, competitors, and goals, we’ll have the data to help you decide exactly which methods hold the potential for the largest ROI for your company.

But wait! A word of caution.

We do want to add a word of caution. While SEM and PPC can certainly be run by an in-house resource, there is always substantial risk involved—especially if the account manager is inexperienced or not certified.

Unlike SEO, which is a slow-and-steady method for improving your users’ experience and search engine rankings, SEM/PPC can move extremely quickly, and it’s possible (trust us, we’ve seen it happen over and over again) to burn through your budget very quickly with or without seeing any positive results.  Sometimes this has lead companies to believe SEM is the wrong solution for them, even when they stood to see the most ROI from the avenue compared to their other alternatives.

You don’t have to hire an internet marketing agency to help with your SEM, but at the very least, we recommend you consult with a professional to help weigh your options and identify the strategy that’s the best fit for your company before you invest—whether it’s SEO, SEM, both or something different altogether.

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