What’s the Difference Between PPC and SEM?

Difference Between PPC and SEM

Since practically the beginning of the era of the big search engines and the advent of Google Adwords, the debate has raged amongst more than one circle of marketers as to which strategy to pursue, PPC or SEM

Pay-per-click is a digital marketing term that refers to any type of digital marketing that is priced on a ‘per click’ basis. SEM is an acronym for ‘Search Engine Marketing’. This umbrella term refers to any marketing initiatives designed to show a site higher in a search engine’s listings. Some of which include PPC or pay per click advertising. In a sense PPC is a non-mutually exclusive subset of search engine marketing. 

PPC or SEM – Both Have Merits

They both have their merits, SEO is often viewed as being long-range in its usefulness, and PPC is often maligned as being costly, ultra-competitive, and not without limitations. As ‘Pay per click’ refers to a raft of different marketing initiatives (one’s that a feature a per click pricing model, we can separate out and explain the difference for the purpose of this article between paid search advertising (ie on a ppc basis) and non paid SEM – specifically SEO. 


Pay per click is the highest investment form of search engine marketing. It works, and we all know it; it’s that there is a kind of ROI factor to PPC which is very real and practical in its implications, and if you know what you are doing the results can be very fast. 

In the past decade, it’s become simplier to launch your own campaigns, however there is still what we call the ‘idiot tax’ – you end up paying more for less results if your campaign is less than perfect in its setup. 

Is Search Engine Marketing Effective?

Another method to show up higher in the search engines results is through the use of search engine marketing or SEM. What this enables you to do is show in the main listings, the ‘free placements’ so to speak. Often potential buyers place more trust in non-paid search listings as essentially the search engine, or more correctly its algorithm has selected those sites to show up based on a number of factors – none of which being the fact that business is paying the search engine money. 

So for that reason alone – the conversion rate, that is the percentage of people who buy from visiting your site is often much higher from an organic search visitor rather than a paid visitor from a search engine. 

Is PPC better than SEM or SEO?

Stepping into the real world of what businesses of all sizes face every day, PPC is incredibly attractive. You get semi instant results, and you know exactly what you are getting for what you spend… to some degree.

 Although other forms of SEM – such as Search Engine optimization has also got significant benefits that PPC does not have. 

PPC vs SEM – Which to Choose? 

Nowhere in this piece will you ever hear us advocate against the general usefulness and effectiveness of solely PPC or SEM advertising. What we will state is that we believe in a mixed marketing approach. 

Just as every business has short, medium and long-term goals, marketing itself should too. 

Marketing for most modern businesses must balance the immediate needs of the business; its healthy functioning against long-term strategic planning. 

A case can be made against PPC, and it’s a simple case – sure, it works, to a point; beyond that, though, it’s a waste of money. 

This is, for the most part, true wisdom. The fact is there that limit is inherently there.

Even with unlimited funds, with Pay-per-click advertising, you can spend enough to run a lot of ads, but there is always a point at which the money spent on ads no longer gets the same value for money spent as it initially did. 

At some point in the process of ramping up the budget, saturation is reached, where more money spent produces no discernable difference except its own cost. 

The same could be said for any venue of marketing, radio, television, billboards, print, or social; there is always a practical limit to how much can be spent and what return can be expected.

For businesses, the decision to spend their budget as wisely as possible is always a consideration. 

Diversified Marketing

There is, however, a third option, and it’s good for many but not all businesses. This is a balanced and diversified approach. 

Rather than choosing between SEO or PPC, how about adding in guest blogging and high DA backlinks to reinforce the SEO you’ve run before and help obtain ranking improvements quickly – and for a long time to come too!

No Tradeoffs

Guest blogging and backlinks don’t take ages to show improvements, they work rather fast, and they require a minimum of time and attention from you and your business; no on-page meddling, no code, no software, and no headaches. 

They balance the short-term needs of marketing directly against the long-term needs of marketing by giving the website an immediate boost.

But what if you run off-site marketing using PPC to drive traffic to videos or webinars – well, then you should probably keep doing that too! 

Applicable To All

The thing is, high DA backlinks and guest blogging are applicable to almost anyone, but they might not be applicable to the promotion of short-term marketing sites with no domains to promote – that’s okay because you still have a website and a brand you want ranking.

The truth is PPC could and should coexist within a healthy marketing ecosystem, but this does not detract one bit from the need for businesses to obtain guest blogging and high DA backlinking to help promote their website rankings too. 

A Powerful Tool

PPC can be a powerful tool to help drive targeted traffic through a marketing funnel to obtain leads and sales or to, obtain information from event registrants, or even drive traffic to shopping pages or pre-recorded videos or events. 

There are numerous situations where PPC is not only viable but really one of the most reliable marketing tools you can use for marketing – period. 

This doesn’t mean SEO should be ignored. The fact is ranking well in organics is one of the most dramatic game changers for businesses large and small. A store can go from relative obscurity to a multi-million dollar business based upon simple ranking improvements, and this isn’t theoretical; it happens every day. 

We live in changing times where consumers are increasingly mobile, and this is true for nearly all businesses of all types.

Changing Times

Today, people are using their smartphones as their primary computing devices more and more. 

As consumer behavior changes, we’re seeing businesses increasingly adapting themselves to better serve the mobile web. 

PPC is directly impacted by this mobile behavior because it puts the phone right in the page viewer’s hand and makes interaction all the more possible, proximate to marketing. 

This is attractive for many types of businesses that are traditionally marketed quite differently – restaurants and hospitality, pubs and bars, and many other consumer-focused businesses.

These businesses are much more apt to run local PPC advertising today than they were in the past because they know they can reach consumers directly and get them to take direct action.

At the same time, SEO has become something of such a powerful magnitude for businesses that the need now exists to find partners to help them to handle the job of contending in this arena. 

Sites Today .vs. Yesterday

Gone are the days of websites that were small and manageable, the sites themselves have shrunk, but the web of complexity surrounding their marketing has exploded exponentially in recent years. 

Because the stakes can be so high for businesses who succeed in this arena, it makes finding the right service provider to give you the edge you need to succeed. 

Outreach Frog – A Different Approach

At Outreach Frog we specialize in writing supremely engaging content in the form of guest blogs, which we publish on very high domain authority websites and backlink to our client’s sites. 

This has the effect of helping to increase their domain authority and therefore increase the likelihood of them ranking for the keywords they are targeting and more.

What Makes Us Effective & Unique

The core of what makes our services so effective is the fact that high DA backlinks still carry an enormous amount of weight when it comes to search, and it is because of this that any campaign founded upon obtaining white hat high DA backlinks is going to stand to have a major impact upon a site’s rankings across the boards. 

That is probably the best aspect of using our services – the speed with which effects become noticeable. 

Though we can make no promises on a case-by-case basis, we can state with no uncertainty that, in many cases, our clients see dramatic improvements within months.

Many SEO campaigns from other vendors take many months to show any effectiveness at all – if they ever do. 

There is the fact that many SEO campaigns run contemporaneously with clients adding new content to their own sites and elsewhere.

This always begs the question, if rankings improved, which was responsible – the SEO campaign or the new site content? 

We favor a content-centric view of SEO best practices, and we encourage all our clients to engage with the web as much as possible and produce their own content. 

Avoid Low-Quality SEO & Backlinks

We also advise that everyone who cares about their businesses should avoid low-quality SEO because the risks so often outweigh the rewards. 

With our Managed SEO campaigns, we produce high-quality page content and backlinks on a routine schedule, delivering tangible results in the form of engaging content and links built and embedded within. 

Backlinks .vs. PPC?

Over time, this powerful form of marketing can and will generally have the effect of exceeding the potential of PPC. 

This is because when you rank well in organic search, the results are exponential; you may rank well for many, many search phrases and obtain traffic from clicks derived from every one of them. 

PPC is inherently limited by the number of search phrases and the budget behind any given campaign.

With backlinks from ORF, the content quality is high, so the links usually stay online indefinitely. 

If a client purchases guest posts and links on a routine basis, over time, the number of links will become quite high and have an increasingly strong influence on the site’s rankings.

Aggregate Effect of Backlinks

This aggregation effect of SEO from us is important to understand because this unlocks the true potential of SEO for our clients.

The fact is, when you are number one in organic search for a competitive keyword, it’s competitive for a reason, and it’s usually because the value of that placement is quite high. 

Many businesses become overnight successes based on their rankings, and virtually any business that has an adequate budget and motivation can succeed in ranking for at least most of their target keywords. 

Modern Marketing Methods

The truth is SEO and PPC both coexist in the world of modern marketing less as adversaries than as allies. 

They differ in tremendous ways, with the weakness of PPC being its immediacy and its weakness being its addiction-like cost structure. 

With a balanced approach, modern agencies can succeed online in more than one way. 

They can and should market their services in whatever way makes sense for the type of marketing they do – PPC is strong for some businesses. 


If PPC works for your business, then we say go for it. 

SEO has its own essential place, and content-centric backlinking campaigns like those from Outreach Frog apply to many business situations as well.

Businesses that want to rank and succeed need to take every opportunity that comes their way and make it happen to the umpteenth degree. 

Expand Your Horizons

Expanding your web of knowledge and engaging in marketing of different kinds is the only path forward for the entrepreneurially-minded individual. 

To learn more about what it is we at Outreach Frog can do for you and your business, please feel free to contact us today. We would love to speak with you and learn about your business.