If you’re like many Australian small businesses, you might be struggling to market your products and services to your target market.

One possible solution would be to use some combination of organic SEO and paid SEM. But what exactly are organic SEO and paid SEM?

  • SEO (search engine optimisation) involves optimising a website to rank as highly as possible on search engines like Google
  • SEM (search engine marketing) involves using digital advertising to feature on search engines

What are the main differences and similarities between SEO and SEM?

Organic SEO is free, while SEM involves paying for clicks. 

The first option is cheaper (at least initially), but offers no guarantee that you’ll rank highly. The second option does offer that guarantee, but you have to pay for the privilege. 

With that said, let’s have a look at the main differences and similarities between SEO and SEM marketing.


  • Both SEM and SEO are marketing-based
  • Whether you make use of SEO or SEM, you can drive traffic to your website


  • SEM search results appear above SEO search results
  • SEO takes longer to get results

The pros and cons of organic SEO (compared to paid SEM)

While both SEO and SEM can have high conversion rates, both these options require technical expertise and can become quite costly. 

One disadvantage of SEO is the fact that it provides delayed results, while SEM results diminish as soon as the budget runs out. 

However, SEO tends to provide you with better long-term results, while SEM provides you with a faster route to success for your small business.

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