SEO vs SEM (1)

SEO vs. SEM: What’s The Difference? – Pixeltokig

There is a common misconception about the terms SEO and SEM. Many people believe that SEO stands for search engine optimization while SEM refers to paid marketing on search engines. However, this is not entirely accurate. SEM actually encompasses any marketing activities that take place on a search engine, including SEO. So, when people compare SEO vs SEM, what they’re really looking at is the difference between organic search results (SEO) and paid search results (PPC). In this article, we’ll be discussing the differences between SEO and PPC, so let’s dive right in without any further delay.

By the way, if you are looking for an agency who can run SEO and PPC campaigns for your business you can consider us. We are knowledgeable in this area.

Table of Contents

The Difference Between SEO and PPC


SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

PPC (Pay Per Click)


The practice of optimizing web pages to rank high in organic search results.

A paid advertising model where businesses pay for each click on their ads.

Target search results

Organic search results.

Ads displayed above or below organic search results.


Generally a long-term investment of time and resources. Costs are generally upfront and include website optimization, content creation, and link building.

Requires a budget to generate traffic and leads. Costs can vary depending on keyword competitiveness, but are generally higher in industries with high competition.


Takes time to generate results, sometimes several months to a year or more.

Generates immediate results, as soon as the ads are launched.

Value over time

Provides long-term value. Organic traffic generated by SEO can continue to generate leads and sales over time.

Generates results as long as there is a budget to support it. Once the budget is depleted, traffic and leads will stop generating.


Based on how well optimized websites are for specific keywords. Competition can be high for keywords that are frequently searched, have high commercial intent, or have low search volumes.

Based on the bidding strategy for specific keywords. Competition can be high for keywords that are frequently searched, have high commercial intent, or have low search volumes.

Target keywords

Targeted keywords are generally informational, focusing on educating and informing the audience.

Targeted keywords are generally commercial in nature, focusing on selling a product or service.

When to Focus Just SEO

  • When it comes to ranking informative keywords, SEO is the best choice. Informative keywords are easier to rank and require less money to appear on the first page of search engine results. Spending money on informative keywords through PPC advertising may not be wise because the traffic coming to the informative article may not be ready to make a purchase, and therefore, the PPC budget may not provide the expected return.
  • If you have a limited budget, it is better to focus on SEO rather than PPC. Even if you stop spending money on your SEO campaign, you can still expect to receive some organic traffic. However, if you stop your PPC campaign, you will not receive any traffic.
  • If you have enough time and resources, you can also target commercial keywords in your SEO campaign. While it may take longer to see the benefits of targeting commercial keywords through SEO, it will be worth it in the long run. In the meantime, you can run a PPC campaign to generate traffic for your commercial keywords until they begin to rank organically through SEO.

When to Focus Just PPC

  • Focusing solely on PPC is recommended for businesses that want to rank for hard-to-rank keywords that are highly competitive. For example, if a business wants to rank for the keyword “car insurance,” which is highly competitive, focusing on PPC may be more effective. 
  • PPC is also recommended for businesses that want to generate immediate results. For example, businesses launching a new product or service can benefit from using PPC to generate immediate traffic and leads. 
  • Businesses with a high marketing budget can benefit from focusing on PPC, but should also consider their target audience and the competitiveness of their industry.

When to Use Both

Using both SEO and PPC is recommended for businesses that want to rank for ad-heavy keywords. These are keywords that have a lot of ads displayed above or below the organic search results. By using both SEO and PPC, businesses can increase their visibility and chances of ranking higher in search engine results. For example, businesses that want to rank for keywords related to the insurance industry, which is highly competitive, can benefit from using both SEO and PPC. By targeting both organic search results and paid ads, businesses can increase their chances of ranking higher and generating more traffic and leads. Companies that have a balanced marketing budget and want to generate both long-term and immediate results can benefit from using both SEO and PPC.


Both SEO and PPC have their advantages and disadvantages, and the right strategy for a business depends on its goals and target audience. While SEO is a long-term strategy that requires investment in time and resources, it can provide long-term value. PPC, on the other hand, can generate immediate results, but requires a budget to support it. Using both SEO and PPC can be a highly effective strategy for businesses that want to increase their visibility in search engine results.

Additional Resources

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