SEO vs. SEM: Which One Do You Choose for E-commerce?


For E-commerce Businesses, Does SEM Beat SEO? Every Time?

If you work in e-commerce and haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the SEO vs. SEM debate. SEO and SEM are phrases that can have a variety of meanings depending on who you ask. So, let me explain what those terms represent. These are not intended to be full definitions, but they are intended to be accurate and simple.


Search Engine Optimization refers to the activities you do on your website, such as maintaining a specific keyword density, or on other websites, such as link building, with the goal of ranking higher in search engine results pages (SEO).


Search Engine Marketing entails paying search engines to send qualified traffic your way, most likely through a pay-per-click method (SEM).

It’s easy to argue that SEM encompasses much more than what I’ve just outlined, and that it even covers SEO. I’m separating SEO from other SEM initiatives so we can come up with some useful insights.

Which One Is Better for E-commerce Businesses?

I’d be one of the most sought-after e-commerce marketers if I could confidently answer this question with “this one.” The response, as expected, is a resounding “it depends.” I realise that seems inconvenient, but don’t worry, things will get better.

SEO Is Better Because…

  • You invest resources once and receive the benefits for the rest of your life.
  • Once you’ve achieved SEO success, you’ll have a significant competitive advantage that’s difficult to duplicate in a short amount of time.
  • E-commerce sites are notorious for having terrible SEO. As a result, even a small amount of work might provide significant results.
  • Users who can tell the difference between organic and paid results are more likely to trust organic results.
  • It is envisaged that the cost per visitor will be a small fraction of what you would pay for SEM campaigns in the long term.
  • SEM investments have become prohibitively expensive in several industries.

SEM Is Better Because…

  • SEM efforts produce results very immediately, whereas SEO can take months.
  • You know exactly what you’re paying for, and you can track your investment’s return (RoI).
  • When search engines like Google change their algorithm, your SEM investment won’t suddenly become worthless.
  • You may easily scale up your SEM strategy after you’ve found the winning formula.
  • It is in your control, not the whims of a few of Stanford PhDs and their pals.
  • PPC traffic converts better than organic search traffic, according to the majority of e-commerce enterprises.
  • you get to control how your brand name and other attributes are treated.

So Which One Is Best?

The advantages and disadvantages shown in the preceding lists are persuasive. Clearly, e-commerce enterprises cannot ignore either SEO or SEM totally. Here are some possible conclusions:

  • You can’t wait for SEO success to set in if your e-commerce website is brand new. As a result, you should devote the majority of your resources on SEM, say 90%, and the remaining 10% to SEO.
  • You can gradually raise the allocation of resources to SEO as time goes on and you see some SEO results.
  • Because you’ll constantly have something you want to promote “right now,” you’ll have to rely on sponsored traffic. In the long run, you should aim for a 50-50 split between SEO and SEM efforts.

Word of Caution

It’s easy to get locked in a SEM-only mindset because that’s what first works. However, the cost per click may rapidly climb to levels that your company would be unable to sustain. As a result, it’s a good idea to strengthen your organic leg as well. Furthermore, SEO is proving to be a frustratingly changing target. Consider employing content marketing as an SEO strategy. Content marketing appears to have a lot of steam left in it.

Need help with getting your business found online? Stridec is a top SEO agency in Singapore that can help you achieve your objectives with a structured and effective SEO programme that will get your more customers and sales. Contact us for a discussion now.