SEM vs PPC: Which is Better for New Local Businesses in 2022?

By: | December 3, 2021 | Tags: , , , |

Are you here for information on SEM vs PPC?

There are two methods of SEO traffic generation with the goal to make sales on the internet, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC).

Digital marketing gives local businesses a lot of options such as SEM vs PPC.

Having a lot of options sounds good. But it leaves you overwhelmed and confused. You don’t know what to pick. It also leads to indecision.

This article aims to help you get some knowledge about both. You will compare and contrast SEM vs PPC. Hopefully, you will get an idea of what is best for you as you finish reading.

By reading this guide to SEM vs PPC, you get eight differences between organic and paid methods to help your content get search engine visibility.

Let’s get started comparing and contrasting SEM vs PPC.


Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is about increasing the discoverability of your site. It is about getting your site featured in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

It involves many things like creating quality content, optimizing content, and improving the site architecture. An SEO company helps clients to get their sites featured in the SERP.

Google uses several criteria to rank a page. It includes page speed, links, and matching user intent.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is when you optimize your content in order to make sales on Google and other search engines.

SEM vs PPC comes into play due to the difference. PPC involves paying for the visibility that ads bring.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

PPC is about displaying ads in the search results. You can also display ads on social media and other websites.

PPC runs on keywords. You will bid on a particular keyword. Whenever someone clicks your ad, you will pay a fixed amount.

Google Ads is the most common PPC advertising channel. Google provides you with several tools to control and monitor your campaigns. You can get the PPC service agency to manage your local campaigns.

We can know what works best by testing them against different parameters:

  • Web traffic
  • Targeted marketing
  • Leads
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Conversions
  • Time factor

Web Traffic

Web traffic is crucial for a local business. If you are just starting up, you need a boost. Local businesses focus on increasing brand awareness. Web traffic is necessary for conversions.

SEO helps small businesses get more coverage. But it takes time. It is slow, but its benefits are also slow to disappear. 

Local businesses with a small budget can benefit from SEO. SEO helps them target local keywords and gets more people to their stores. But the drawback is that it’s a slow and time-consuming process.

PPC ads help local businesses spread the word pretty quickly. It can bring more local traffic in a short time. 

PPC ads also give small businesses more control. But on the downside, PPC ads are expensive. Expenses can easily add up if you don’t properly manage your campaigns.

Targeted Marketing

PPC is better than SEO for targeted marketing. As a local business, you will target specific streets and places. PPC ads also help you target consumer segments. You can get the Local SEO services of a digital marketing company to help you with targeted marketing.

Identify potential customers. Find where they hang out. If you target them with display ads, a conversion is more likely to happen.

SEO helps when you target a large audience. You can target people searching for similar products. For a small business, the leads are within the local community. SEO doesn’t allow you to narrow down your targeting. So, PPC wins here.


PPC can get you leads in a short time. If your product is simple and needs no explanation, PPC helps you here. But PPC won’t work well when your products need explanation. 

SEO gets you organic traffic. The leads you get will be more likely to convert. They come to you because they trust your brand. So, when it comes to leads SEO, beats PPC.


When it comes to SEM vs PPC, local businesses will choose the organic method since they won’t have a lot of money. They can’t afford to spend a fortune on marketing. 

PPC ads require you to invest a lot of money. They will help you get quick leads, but there is no guarantee that they will convert. When it comes to cost-effectiveness, PPC is at a disadvantage.

SEO is relatively inexpensive. You have several options here.

You can focus on optimizing your GMB (Google My Business) listings. You can also get listed in other directories. So, SEO is a cost-friendly option. 

You can get calls from customers anytime looking to buy your products. Although SEO efforts take time, you can save a lot of money. SEO is better for small businesses in this regard.


SEO will help you get quality traffic. These customers are informed. They want to build a relationship with your brand. Once you convert them, they will become your loyal customers. They will stick with you even in troublesome times. 

PPC ads help you to target specific segments. If you manage to identify potential customers, PPC can get you more results than SEO. But, there is no guarantee that people will convert. Just because someone clicked your ad doesn’t mean they want to buy from you. 

For long-term conversions, SEO is best. But PPC helps you to increase your sales for a particular month. For a long-term conversion strategy, work with an SEO company in India.

Time Factor

SEO takes a lot of time for the results to appear. But don’t lose your calm. 

It can take a long time to get your ROI. But more people will find your business in the local listings. But you have to wait for that. 

SEO is good for brand building. It will take more time, but you will be a well-established brand in the years to come.

PPC gives you immediate results. It doesn’t keep you waiting. With PPC, you can also track campaigns and have more control over your campaign. If your local business needs immediate sales, PPC is for you.

SEM vs PPC Frequently Asked Questions

Does SEM include PPC?

Search engine marketers have the option to try for paid means (PPC) in the form of purchasing ads or free means in the form of Search Engine Optimization in order to get more search engine visibility. Therefore, the answer is SEM can include PPC.

Is SEM the same as Google Ads?

PPC is the same as Google Ads. When people click on your ad, you pay. In other words, you pay per click, hence the name PPC.

Verdict: SEM vs PPC

Whether to choose SEM vs PPC depends on your market conditions. You should also consider the time and resources at your disposal.

If you are a local business, PPC works wonders for you if you have money. You can get consumers to visit your store or make them call you.

Since you have both a physical and online presence, you can reap the wonders of PPC. If you don’t have the money, you can slowly build your business with SEO.

Readers, please share so marketers discover this guide to SEM vs PPC and the differences between organic and paid ads.

Can you suggest additional differences between SEM vs PPC?

This post was contributed and made possible by the support of our readers.

  1. Ryan K Biddulph

    Janice all good points here. SEO helps to level the playing field among all entrepreneurs. Learning the basics can give you an edge on people who don’t put the effort into leveraging their presence with SEO.


    • Janice Wald

      I completely agree. It definitely gives you an edge. Thank you for commenting.

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