SEO vs. SEA: What You Need to Know

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Search engine optimization or SEO is something most business owners are familiar with. SEA, search engine advertising, may not be as familiar to some. While this is true, they are both equally important for digital marketing strategies and efforts.

Both SEO and SEO are used for attracting more traffic to your website. With SEA, you must pay advertising costs. Also, while SEO provides almost instant results (think pay-per-click advertising), this is only the case for as long as you cover the ads’ cost.

With SEO, traffic to your website is generated organically. The traffic is free and does not require you to pay anything. While this is true, SEO tactics will take longer to work than SEO.

Keep reading to learn more about the specific differences between SEO and SEA here.


One of the biggest and most notable differences between SEO and SEA is how long each takes to work. Achieving a high rank in organic search results pages with SEO is something that may take months, or longer, depending on how competitive your industry is. However, with SEO, you can pay to make sure your ads are seen in the top three paid advertising results in SERPs.


Another important difference is the insight provided by Google. For example, the search engine does not offer as much insight into organic search results. For example, you cannot see what keyword resulted in a visitor coming to your page.

However, with search engine advertising, Google (and other search engines) provide you with this information. Thanks to conversion tracking set up in the Google Ads system, you can determine what keywords are converting and what this is costing you.


Most paid search results are seen at the top of a page. For most advertisements seen on mobile phones, laptops, and desktops, this is the case. As a result, people searching for something relevant to the ad will always see them, even if they simply scroll by. With unpaid search results, this is not the case. In fact, even the top three organic results may be found below the fold, which means someone must scroll to see them.


Unlike with search engine advertisements, organic traffic and visibility will not dry up if you stop paying for it. Efforts for developing organic visibility and traffic are considered more sustainable than the advertisements when considering the long term. You must continually invest in SEA to achieve the desired results.

Using SEO and SEA Together

It is best to use SEO and SEA together to achieve the best possible results. By investing in both of these, you can get results now with SEA and build long-term results with SEO. If you need help developing campaigns for your business, reach out to the professionals. They can help you create a custom campaign that will meet your business or organization’s growth needs. Knowing what SEO and SEA offer will help you decide what tactics you should invest in.

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