Digital Marketing

SEO vs SEA: what strategy for your website?

Are you a web-entrepreneur, blogger, craftsman or merchant, and you are looking to generate maximum traffic on your site? Different marketing strategies exist to increase your visibility on the Web. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, refers to natural referencing while SEA, or Search Engine Advertising, corresponds to pay advertising. SEO vs SEA, what will be your winning strategy? In this article, discover the differences between these two techniques and make your choice!

SEO and SEA: same fight

To my right, the SEO

Under the name of natural referencing, in French, it designates all the techniques aimed at making a website visible in the SERP, the search engine results page. The objective of SEO optimization is to position your site in the first results of Google, the world’s No. 1 search engine, on defined queries. Did you know that 90% of Internet users do not go beyond the first page of results? This is why it is crucial for your site to appear in a good position! In addition, qualified organic traffic increases the conversion rate and therefore your turnover. Among the many actions related to SEO, we can mention:

  • net linking, that is to say the development of the number of external links, or backlinks, pointing to your site;
  • technical optimization of the site;
  • the production of quality content which, while emphasizing the user experience, or UX, is optimized in such a way as to “please” the algorithm of search engines like Google.

On my left, the SEA:

Paid referencing includes all advertising techniques aimed at making your site appear in search engine results. The goal here too is to quickly position yourself on key queries. For Google, advertisers serve their advertisements through Google Ads using an auction system on keywords. There are several types of advertising campaigns:

  • the “search only” campaign, which displays advertisements above or alongside other search results;
  • the “display only” campaign, which displays ads on Google partner sites, such as YouTube;
  • the “research with selective display” campaign, which combines the two methods.

SEO and SEA are therefore two different approaches, but they have a common objective: to increase your visibility by making your website appear in the first results of the SERP and to ensure maximum qualified traffic. Which method to choose for your website? SEO vs SEA, let the game begin!

SEO vs. SEA: the match

Round 1: time

Implementing an SEO strategy takes time. The optimization of a website must be organized on several levels: site configuration, editorial content, internal and external links… Understanding SEO is fascinating, but your time is already devoted to your business. This is why delegating this task to an SEO web editor can be a real asset.

SEA, by comparison, can be implemented more quickly. The setting and monitoring of campaigns vary according to the competition. The site is thus positioned very quickly in this way, provided that the ad is relevant and that the content of the landing page corresponds well to the requests on which you are investing. Ghost writers will need to be well advised for this, if you have no knowledge in this area.

Round 2: budget and return on investment

The cost of setting up an SEO strategy varies depending on the time spent optimizing the site. This requires specific knowledge and skills to gain natural visibility. SEO is, as such, a medium- and long-term investment. Google takes, in fact, from a few weeks to several months to take into account the optimization of a site. The positions acquired will also require follow-up and maintenance. Anyway, its cost is fixed and independent of the number of clicks.

The SEA is very expensive, especially if your sector is competitive. As Google Ads is based on an auction system, certain keywords can be very expensive per click. The return on investment appears in the short term, the positioning being almost immediate. On the other hand, your site disappears as soon as the campaign ends.

Round 3: impact

According to a study carried out by, 70% of Internet users click on a natural link rather than an advertisement. A site that appears in the natural results thus inspires more confidence than a sponsored link. Having a good image is essential for a company, and regularly feeding your website with optimized and relevant content shows your prospects the attention you give them.

In the context of the SEA, canvassing is less subtle. Your company may give the impression of offering services with large enough margins to be able to monetize your presence in the search results. Internet users who land on a site via an advertising link are however very targeted.

SEM: SEO and SEA in the same team

As you will have understood, SEO needs time to be set up. But once your site is “Google friendly”, your investment will be quickly amortized, because it will bring you qualified traffic, without paying according to the number of Internet users. The SEA ensures you an immediate presence, but requires a significant constant financial contribution. Neither completely knocks out the other, you alone are the judges nor will your choice therefore depend on your strategy:

  • if you want immediate effects: opt for SEA;
  • if you favor a preferential position, which is long-term: adopt SEO.

In this SEO vs SEA match, a third option is finally available to you: SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, which brings together the different techniques aimed at improving your visibility on the web, namely SEO, SEA and SMO (Social Media Optimization). Choosing a hybrid strategy would allow you to both quickly meet your traffic needs while investing intelligently in SEO, which is more profitable in the long term. You maximize your results and your turnover. So, in an Inbound Marketing view, the goal is for organic traffic to grow as your PPC spend goes down.

SEO and SEA are therefore two different techniques, but with the same objective: to generate maximum traffic on your website. If the SEA can be set up quickly, an SEO strategy requires time and specific knowledge, but ensures you a lasting positioning in the search results. Do not hesitate to contact our qualified SEO web editors to increase your visibility on the Web and create a link with your prospects.

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