Organic vs. Paid Marketing Strategies: Pros and Cons

When starting a company, it’s smart to weigh the pros and cons of paid (SEM) and organic (SEO) strategies. Both fall under the umbrella of online marketing, and both are unique and can be beneficial for increasing brand awareness for your company. Neither is better or worse than the other—both help create brand awareness and reach, but I would consider it unwise to put all your eggs in one basket. So, let’s go over the pros and cons of both.

Organic Strategies: This strategy is often called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, and focuses on optimizing keywords so that your website appears at the top of a page when someone is searching for a similar company. Just like using SEM or any marketing strategy, SEO has its own set of pros and cons. Let’s dive in.


  • Creates trust between owner and client
    • SEO strategies don’t create spam, and nobody likes spam
  • Results can be measured
    • Using tools such as Google Analytics allows you to measure your results so you can see what is or isn’t working
  • Free
    • Unlike SEM, which stops when you stop paying, SEO costs nothing and works continuously
    • This approach can also create more sustainable brand awareness because it is continuous


  • Results aren’t instant
    • This method takes time to grow brand awareness
  • Requires consistent posting
    • A lapse in posting or working on your keywords can risk losing visibility

Paid Strategies: This strategy is often called SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, and is a PPC (pay-per-click) method. It includes t ads on social media, search engines, and ads that direct your audience to your website with more instant results. Just like any marketing strategy, using SEM has pros and cons. So, let’s talk about them.


  • Can use more precise targeting methods
    • This method allows you to control and modify your ad or ads.
    • You can choose which ad or ads appear in search engines and social media accounts
  • Expands reach
    • With the ability to control, modify, and choose the ads that appear, you’re more likely to reach your target audience.
  • Good ROI (return on investment)
    • Using SEM, you can more readily see your results almost instantly, which helps drive traffic and, hopefully, sales if that’s what you’re looking for.
    • Real-time monitoring can improve your strategy because you’ll be able to quickly see and change what is not working.


  • Costly
    • This strategy comes with a cost, literally.
    • The dollars spent can quickly add up, as it only works when you pay.
    • Having a small budget might not be ideal in a competitive market when using SEM and could affect your ROI
  • Time-consuming
    • A lot of set-up time and optimization is required for ideal results
  • Competitive
    • This is a popular method of advertising a company, so it might be challenging to gain visibility against companies with a higher budget.

In conclusion, both paid (SEM) and organic (SEO) strategies require time, patience, and research to be beneficial. Both strategies can increase brand awareness, website visits, and sales—helping a business grow and flourish.

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