marketing resources for startups

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the digital marketing and advertising piece of working towards getting in front of people fast when they’re looking for what your SMB, company, or startup offers, even if they’ve never heard of it (yet). A pay-per-click (PPC) campaign can be created and stood up in a few days, and you can begin reaching people searching in your market extremely quickly through this approach towards reaching active searchers.

An easy way to think about it all is this: SEO is the long-game, SEM is the short-game.


  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your site's organic traffic and ranking on search engines such as Google, Bing, etc.
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a strategy using paid tactics to gain website visibility on search engines. It is also known as Pay-per-click (PPC).

We consider the digital strategy when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to be highly critical to the success of any startup launching into market, or any existing brand with some content in place wanting to raise their paid and organic rankings.

If you’re not marketing and advertising in Google, or Bing (if it is strategically appropriate given your unique buying tribes), you should almost certainly rethink that.

Search engines are a highly potent marketing space because they are active channels (your future customers are actively and directly searching here), where social media and many other advertising channels are much more passive (people aren’t necessarily looking for something at that time).

Elevating your brand in search engines is no easy, simple, or quick feat on the organic side for sure, but is a key part of a strong, holistic marketing mix no matter what age your brand is. But a well-design SEM strategy can be critical in playing the short game towards connecting with your future clients and customers.

Whether you run a startup or a company with brand recognition, search engine marketing will determine whether or not sales are made or missed. Many marketing firms overlook this crucial step to brand awareness while choosing to focus on other aspects of marketing instead (such as great creative with no marketing strategy, or going too heavy on social media marketing and paid promotions alone). 

When you partner with HypeLife Brands, we don’t believe that each aspect of marketing should be treated separately, or in silos. We believe that every piece works together like instruments in a symphony. Strong marketing is not a trumpet solo, its a combination of many different tactics (instruments) at play, working in concert together. 

Our marketing success (while relative to each brand’s stage in its lifecycle and ultimate end-game) comes from using each piece of data collected, the brand strategy developed, the defined understanding of your unique buying tribes, the marketing messaging approach, and so on — as building blocks to lead us to the best keywords to target for your brand. 

By using analytics, market research, historical search volume data, and more, we can determine exactly how to use SEO and SEM in concert together to make sure your company is found, and SEEN.

Key Differences: SEO vs. SEM

  • SEO is more cost-effective than SEM because traffic resulting from SEO is more qualified, which translates into better leads.
  • SEM uses third-party channels like Google Ads or Microsoft Ads, while SEO uses your website pages and content.
  • SEO works 24/7, while SEM requires an ad spend to run. Depending on your ad settings, they may only run on specific days and times.
  • SEM delivers immediate results, while SEO takes between three to six months to see increases in rankings.
  • SEO helps you build trust and establish credibility for your brand that is not possible with PPC alone.