Spend It Like Beckham
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SEO or SEM? Why both are essential for ecommerce

26th Oct 2016
Spend It Like Beckham
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If you’re setting up an ecommerce site for your business then you will have to decide how you’re going to attract visitors to your site. Designing a good marketing strategy is key to increasing your online presence and part of that will mean integrating SEO and SEM into everything you do.

SEO and SEM share a lot of similarities in that they both ultimately bring traffic to your site. It’s the way in which they achieve this goal that differs, and why many people often think of them as competitors instead of allies.


SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It relates to all the activities you undertake on your website to help it appear as high on search engine results pages as possible. This includes maintaining a certain keyword density, link building, tagging, and producing up to date content that search engines and customers both like. This differs to SEM because all of these things can be classed as ‘organic’ i.e. they are done for free and no money is spent on ads or anything else that might attract a customer.


Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is all about paying search engines to send the traffic you want your way. This is largely done using a pay-per-click mechanism popularised by Google. You’ll most likely have seen PPC adverts at the top of your search results before competing for your attention with the organic results below.

Both are great for ecommerce businesses and while many favour one over the other, there is no definitive winner. The one that will work best for you will really depend on your business objectives. Checks out the pros of each below to gain a better understanding on how each of them works.

Benefits of SEO

  • Once you get your site optimised, you will have a formidable competitive advantage over your competition hat can’t easily be replicated in a short space of time.
  • Ecommerce sites can often have quite poor SEO. Exerting even a little efforts towards SEO presents some real rewards.
  • Users who can distinguish between organic results and ads tend to find organic results more credible.
  • In the long run the ROI you will get from SEO will far out strip what you might end up paying to maintain your presence with SEM.
  • In some business areas, SEM costs have become prohibitively expensive for new companies to compete.

Benefits of SEM

  • SEM campaigns show instant results while SEO can take months.
  • The cost of SEM is easier to measure in terms of ROI compared to SEO
  • SEM spend won’t suddenly be worth zero if your chosen search engine’s algorithm changes
  • An SEM strategy is easier to scale than SEO
  • You have more control over how your brand is presented in search results

The benefits of both SEO and SEM are great for all businesses, and the benefits of both should be compelling for any business to invest time and money towards them. For new businesses looking to make a fast impact then a large chunk of marketing budget should go towards SEM. But that doesn’t mean SEO should be neglected. While SEM gains the early results, SEO should be worked on in the background to compensate for that cooling off period when you might not be able to afford continued spend on SEM. SEO isn’t just good for bringing traffic to your site however, it’s also about maintaining the overall health of your site. The technical elements of optimisation really are a must throughout any marketing strategy. SEO and SEM, along with other increasingly important elements of digital marketing, are really two sides of the same coin and attention should be given to each of them equally. It really is the best strategy for getting the drop on your competitors and maintaining it.

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