How to use SEO and SEM together to skyrocket your online presence

27 August 2023

When it comes to boosting your online visibility and reaching your target audience, the combo between SEO and SEM is sure to deliver.

These two powerhouses can work hand in hand and complement each other in various ways, making them the ultimate duo for skyrocketing your online presence.

The basics of SEO and SEM

Before diving in the details, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of both SEM and SEO.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is all about optimizing your website and content to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) organically. It involves various techniques like keyword research, on-page and off-page optimization, and link building. By focusing on user behaviour and search engine algorithms, SEO aims for long-term results and driving organic traffic.

On the other hand, SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, involves paid advertising to gain immediate visibility on search engines. Unlike SEO, which focuses on organic growth, SEM provides instant reach and can be particularly useful for time-sensitive campaigns or new product launches.

The interplay between SEO and SEM

While SEM and SEO are distinct strategies and each has its own merits, the real magic happens when they are used in tandem.

SEO lays the foundation for long-term growth and credibility, while SEM delivers immediate visibility and targeted traffic. Leveraging the strengths of both helps you maximize your online presence and achieve optimal results.

Ways to use SEM and SEO together

Let’s look at the strategic synergy between SEM and SEO, going beyond their individual capabilities, and explore how they can complement each other for maximum impact.

From sharing valuable keyword insights and enhancing visibility to optimizing landing pages and retargeting opportunities, we’ll break down how to create an integrated approach that brings the best of both worlds.

Keyword research and strategy

One of the best ways to use SEO and SEM together is by sharing keyword insights to craft a strategy that improves the performance of both.

From SEM to SEO: When launching an ad campaign, you can quickly learn which keywords are driving not just clicks but conversions, offering invaluable insights into customer intent and behaviour.

This data becomes a secret weapon in optimizing your organic SEO strategy. You can fine-tune your organic content to target high-converting keywords, thus increasing the chances of ranking higher organically.

In other words, SEM can provide a fast-track research platform for your longer-term, organic SEO tactics.

From SEO to SEM: Conversely, the organic search data you gather through SEO tools can uncover long-tail keywords or emerging search trends that are not yet saturated with competition.

These are golden opportunities, especially because long-tail keywords often indicate a higher intent to purchase or convert. You can then create SEM campaigns centred around these keywords before your competitors even recognize the opportunity.

Essentially, you’re leveraging the slow-burn data from your SEO efforts to identify early-stage opportunities for your SEM campaigns, thereby preempting the market and gaining a competitive edge.

Visibility in search results

One of the key strengths of SEM is the immediacy it offers. The moment they go live, your ads have the potential to appear on the first page of search engine results, offering immediate visibility and instant traffic. This is particularly advantageous when you’re looking to promote time-sensitive offers, new product launches, or simply establish a quick online presence.

SEO, on the other hand, is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires an ongoing commitment to content creation, backlink building, and on-page optimization. The results, although highly beneficial in the long run, take time to manifest. You’re investing in long-term visibility and credibility, but it’s a slow burn that may take months to show tangible results.

By employing both SEM and SEO strategies simultaneously, you’re essentially covering all your bases. While your SEO efforts are steadily building your site’s authority, SEM can fill in the visibility gap by putting your business in front of potential customers right away.

SEM reinforces your brand’s visibility during the time it takes for your organic efforts to gain traction. It ensures you’re not missing out on potential traffic and conversions while working on breaking into the organic rankings for competitive keywords. This combined approach avoids you putting all your eggs in one basket and maximizes your chances of appearing in search engine results.

Also, when your SEO strategy does pay off with results, keeping your ad campaigns active can still be beneficial. Even if you rank high for a given term, a paid ad occupies space above the organic results. This dual presence increases the likelihood of a user clicking on your content.

Meta and ad copy testing

SEO and SEM can work like besties when it comes to testing what words or phrases get people to click on your website.

From SEO to SEM: For example, in SEO, you often play around with the title and description that show up on Google to see which ones make people want to click. Once you find out what works, you can use that same wording in your SEM ads. Because SEM shows results quickly, you can easily see if the wording really does make people interested.

From SEM to SEO: On the other hand, SEM allows you to test different versions of an ad to see which one people click on more. This is known as A/B testing. If you find that a certain ad gets lots of clicks, you can use the wording from that ad to update your SEO title and description.

In short, SEM lets you quickly test what people like, while SEO gives you long-term tracking of your content’s performance. By using the quick results from SEM to guide your SEO, and vice versa, you make both your paid and free search results better. It’s like a two-for-one deal that helps you understand what your audience wants more quickly and effectively.

Landing page optimization and improved UX

A landing page is the first page you land on after clicking a search result or ad. Both SEM and SEO need good landing pages to make people take action, like buying a product or signing up for a newsletter.

From SEM to SEO: Imagine you have a landing page that you use for SEM ads, and it’s doing a great job – lots of people are clicking and taking action. You can take this well-performing page and adjust it as needed to make it show up in free Google searches. Since you already know the page converts well from your SEM campaign, it’s likely to do well organically, too.

From SEO to SEM: On the flip side, let’s say you have a page that gets a lot of free traffic from Google and people spend a lot of time on it. This is a sign that the page is engaging. You can use what you learn from this successful page to make your SEM landing pages better.

In a nutshell, by focusing on making your landing pages as good as possible, you’re creating a win-win situation. Your paid ads (SEM) and your free search results (SEO) both benefit, and most importantly, you make your visitors happy.

Retargeting opportunities

Sometimes people visit your website by clicking on it from Google’s free search results but leave without buying anything or signing up. But what if you could remind them about your website when they’re browsing other sites? That’s where SEM comes in handy.

By using SEM ads, you can “follow” these window-shoppers around the Internet and show them ads that remind them of your site and what they were interested in. This is called retargeting or remarketing. The idea is to jog their memory and encourage them to come back to your website to complete the action they initially skipped.

The cool thing is, you can use what you know about how these users behaved on your website to make these reminder ads even more appealing. For example, if they spent a lot of time looking at a specific product or blog post, you can show them ads that feature that exact item or topic.

In simple terms, retargeting helps bring back the “almost customers” by reminding them about your website and what they liked about it. This increases the chances of turning a visitor into a customer.

Shared budgetary insights

Think of your digital marketing budget like a pie. You want to cut it in the best way to get the most out of it.

From SEM to SEO: Sometimes, bidding on certain words in paid ads can be really expensive because everyone wants them. If you find that’s the case, you might decide to use that money to improve your SEO for those same words instead. It takes longer but could be cheaper in the long run.

From SEO to SEM: On the other hand, let’s say you’ve been trying to show up in free search results for certain keywords, but it’s taking forever to see any results. If those keywords are really important for your business, like they bring in a lot of sales, you can decide to spend more money on paid ads for those specific words. This way, you can show up in Google searches instantly.

Understanding what works in both SEM and SEO helps you make smarter decisions about where to put your money.

Shared analytics learning

From SEM to SEO: When you run paid ads, Google Ads tells you what people were looking for when they clicked on your ad. You can use this data to make your website better at providing what people are actually searching for.

From SEO to SEM: On the other hand, Google Search Console helps you understand how your website is doing in the free search results. It tells you how many people see your website (impressions), how many click on it (clicks), and what percentage of people click after seeing it (click-through rate or CTR). You can use this information to spot weaknesses in your paid ads. For example, if a lot of people are clicking on a certain free search result, maybe you should also be running paid ads for that topic.


When it comes to online visibility and effectively reaching your target audience, using SEM and SEO together offers a potent blend of long-term sustainability and immediate reach.

Far from being two disparate branches of digital marketing, SEO and SEM are more like two sides of the same coin – each having unique advantages, but most effective when used together.

When aligned effectively, they deliver a robust, adaptable, and comprehensive strategy that can skyrocket your online presence and set you well ahead of the competition.

Using SEO and SEM together FAQ2023-10-01T12:07:07+00:00

What are the basic differences between SEO and SEM?

SEO focuses on organic growth through optimizing website content to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). SEM involves paid advertising for immediate visibility on search engines. SEO aims for long-term results, while SEM is good for quick, targeted visibility.

How do SEO and SEM complement each other?

SEO lays the groundwork for long-term growth and builds credibility. SEM provides immediate visibility and targeted traffic. When used together, they help maximize your online presence and achieve optimal results.

Can keyword research benefit both SEO and SEM?

Absolutely. SEM can quickly identify which keywords lead to conversions, and this data can be used to fine-tune your SEO strategy. Conversely, SEO can uncover long-tail keywords and emerging trends that can be used for creating timely SEM campaigns.

Is it possible to optimize visibility using both SEO and SEM?

Yes, SEM can provide immediate visibility on the search engine results page, while SEO works to build long-term visibility. By using both, you cover all bases for maximum exposure online.

Can I use the same landing page for both SEO and SEM?

Yes, if a landing page is performing well in SEM, it’s likely to perform well organically and vice versa. The insights from one can be used to optimize the other, thereby creating a win-win situation.

How does mixing SEO and SEM help your copywriting?

Combining insights from SEO and SEM can significantly improve your copywriting for both strategies. For example, if certain meta titles and descriptions are effective in organic search results, you can apply this successful wording to your SEM ads. Conversely, if an ad copy performs well in SEM, you can use these phrases to update your meta descriptions and titles for SEO. This integrated approach allows you to fine-tune your messaging across both channels, maximizing click-through rates and engagement.

What is retargeting and how does it relate to SEO and SEM?

Retargeting is an SEM feature that allows you to show ads to users who have previously visited your site but did not convert. SEO data about how these users interacted with your site can be used to create more effective retargeting ads.

How should I allocate my budget between SEO and SEM?

This depends on your specific needs. If immediate visibility for specific keywords is crucial, investing more in SEM might be beneficial. For long-term growth, SEO could be a smarter investment. Using insights from both can help you make more informed budgeting decisions.

What tools can I use for analytics in SEO and SEM?

Google Ads is commonly used for SEM analytics, while Google Search Console is used for SEO. Both provide invaluable insights that can help refine your strategies across platforms.

How do I know if combining SEO and SEM is working for me?

Consistent monitoring and analysis of metrics like traffic, conversion rates, and ROI will provide insights into the effectiveness of your combined strategy. The key is to look for growth in both immediate (SEM) and long-term (SEO) metrics.

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