SEM vs. SEO: Debating Internet Lead Generation

Aug 10, 2016 4:16:26 PM

Digital Marketing

In a high-energy, friendly debate at Mega Technology, two associates squared off on two ways to generate internet leads. Each made their case for the method they believe works best: SEM or SEO.

Moderating the friendly debate was Chad Hyams with panelists John Verdeaux representing SEM and Katrina Benton representing SEO.

SEO_v_SEM_panel.jpgWhat SEM and SEO Mean

SEM stands for search engine marketing, and it is the practice of using paid advertisements to generate leads. SEO is search engine optimization, which utilizes free digital content to attract potential leads to your website.

While one is paid and the other is free, both require time, dedication and consistency. And both can generate online leads.

Making the Choice

Here are three tips from each panelist to help you decide which strategy is best for you at this time.


1. You Direct The Desired Action

Ads need to fill a need or solve a problem. To do this, they must have clear call to actions (CTAs) to bring your reader to the solution you are offering. To get them to act, be direct and let them know exactly what you want them to do.

BONUS TIP: The first word you put in your ad should be a verb to give the reader something to do.

2. You Can Do Just One Ad at a Time

Unlike SEO, with paid ads, you don’t need to be as consistent. Ad campaigns do not need to be regular and can even occur just once if you want.

“You don’t need to be persistent and you can get a lead tomorrow from an ad you place today,” Verdeaux said.

3. You Need to Be Hyperlocal

Make sure that where you send people to from your ad is easy to use and mobile optimized. Today, it is essential that people are able to view website content on their phone.


1. You Don’t Need to Reinvent the Wheel

People tend to get distracted with possibilities, so Benton suggests starting by looking at models and getting started with blog templates. These templates are designed to rank and they require little customization to make them relevant to your business and market.

2. You Must Be Consistent

While you don’t need money to blog, it does take time and time is money. To make sure you have enough content to reach a variety of people searching for different topics, your blog schedule must be consistent and you need to make the time investment.

* Be persistent and consistent.

* Build evergreen content that is relevant.

* Build content daily.

“I can get a lead today from a blog I wrote three years ago,” Benton said.

3.  You Can Use Proven Tools to Help Get Started

For people who are worried they don’t know how to begin with blogging, Benton offered some comfort. She said the tools are there and the research has already been done by Keller Williams and is available to all associates. She uses the KW agent websites to generate free leads. “They are already SEO optimized,” she said.

The Results

Benton works with teams across the country in eight different states and, cumulatively, she has generated approximately 60,000 free leads using the KW agent websites. All for free.

Using paid ads, Verdeaux generates approximately 50 - 80 buyer leads and 20 - 30 seller leads using Google ads each month, as well as 20 - 40 buyer and 10 - 20 seller leads from his Facebook ad campaigns, which he says he doesn’t spend as much money on as he does with Google ads.

Are you ready to cast your vote on which strategy you think will work best for your business? Go to Twitter and, using the hashtag #KWMC, cast your vote for either SEO or SEM.

Can’t decide? The good news is that you don’t have to – many agents use a combination of both strategies. What matters is that you are using some method to generate internet leads.

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