Advantages and Disadvantages of Search Engine Marketing


We as consumers can’t help ourselves. We know what we want and we want it now. Although digital marketing as a whole should only be looked at as an investment, there are those that want the silver bullet with their marketing strategy. If done correctly for the right industry, SEM can be extremely successful. Once you are able to use Search Engine Optimization along with a good Search Engine Marketing strategy you can unlock a vast opportunity. We will be discussing the advantages and disadvantages of SEM for you to decide if it is right for your business.Search Engine Marketing

What is Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing in its simplest form is paying to have your website show up at the top of the search engine results page. In the late ’90s, websites were becoming increasingly abundant all over the internet. When search engines saw that consumers would use them to find what they were looking for, paid search became a business model that many of them started to implement. In 2003, Google was able to rake in a little over a billion dollars in ad revenue. That number increased to a modest 134.8 billion last year. As you can see, search engine advertising is a big business. You can skip all of the SEO stuff and put your business front and center. 

Advantages of SEM

A good ad campaign has many advantages. The benefits include;

  • Traffic – You can increase your website’s traffic overnight. 
  • Forecastability – Google and other search engines want you to spend money on their ad space. Knowing this, they are able to tell you how many clicks you will get by your budget. Then you can assume the number of leads you will be getting knowing your conversion rate
  • SERP Real Estate – Your business will be more visible on search engine results pages (SERP’s). 

According to, businesses make $3 in revenue for every $1.60 they spend on AdWords on average. 

Disadvantages of SEM

Knowing what you know now, search engine marketing seems like a win-win situation for your business. Unfortunately, that is not entirely true. 

  • Equity – Yes, you will get more eyes on your website which will lead to more traffic. There is, however, almost zero long term benefits to running ads. 
  • Cost Per Conversion – Every time someone clicks on your ad whether they end up or even intend on using your services, it will still come out of your budget. This does lead to competitors clicking on your ads and wasting your money. There are some helpful tools in place but they aren’t full proof and can add more work for you. In addition, the more competitive the market you are in, the more each click will cost.  
  • Management – Managing your ads from negative keywords to your different ad groups can be time-consuming. If you don’t have the budget to hire a professional, the costs could start to hurt your ROI.

Seventy to eighty percent of users skip the ads, so it is critical that the ads you run are on the right keywords for the right cost.  

How SEM and SEO Can Work Together

Firestarter has been able to build multiple campaigns that have SEO and SEM working together in harmony. Search engine marketing can bring valuable leads while your SEO is ramping up. Once you have reached the first page organically, run an ad on that same page while showing up in the maps and your click-through rate goes through the roof. You have somewhere between 50%-80% of getting that user to your website. Just imagine what that could do for your business…

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