There are so many ins and outs to making your website ripe for search engine optimization (SEO).   Before jumping into a more detailed deeper explanation on How to Influence your site’s Search Engine Ranking, let’s take a step back and clarify, for those unfamiliar with search engine marketing (SEM), the differences between organic and paid search as well as the pros and cons of each search engine marketing channel.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Organic Search Paid Search
Also Known As
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Natural Search


  • Pay-per-Click Search
  • Paid Search Placements
  • Paid Search Inclusion


How to Impact
  • Site Structure
  • Targeted Site Content
  • Online Credibility + Deference


  • Paying for Placements
  • Optimized Ad Copy


  • Hard Costs: Low/No $$ Cost
  • Soft Costs: Ongoing Time/Manpower to Optimize Site + Content


  • Hard Costs: $$ Cost-per-Click
  • Soft Costs: Campaign Development & Management


  • More Trustworthy (viewers know you rankings based on relevance, not paid placement)
  • Less Trustworthy (viewers know you pay to play, thus more “suspicious” of relevance)
Time/Effort Investment
  • Takes Time to Impact Rankings: Requires well architected site, ongoing content development, and continual site + content optimization.
  • Quick to Get up & Running: No/minimal site &/or content updates/changes required
  • Higher ceiling + volume potential
  • Lower ceiling + volume potential
  • Stronger Long Term ROI
  • Stronger Short Term ROI
  • Harder to Measure + Quantify
  • Highly Measurable + Quantifiable

When searching on the term “search engine marketing” in Google, the following results page shows the paid search results in green and the organic/unpaid search results in red.  Viewers typically assign more value and relevance to the unpaid/organic results thereby increasing their click-through effectiveness as compared to paid search results.

SEO vs. SEM search results page

SEO vs. SEM search results page