If youre like most people, you may have heard terms like SEO or SEM used when talking about marketingstrategy, but youre never quite sure exactly what they mean (and you might not even be so sure the person talkingabout them knows either). Whats the difference? How are they used? What can be done? If youre unsure aboutall these foreign sounding phrases and terms, were here to help you wade through the chaos and demystify thepuzzle of Search Engine Optimization vs Search Engine Marketing.The first thing to do is to define Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing so you can get a basicunderstanding of the terminology and just how they fit together."Search Engine Marketing" and "Search Engine Optimization" are both most commonly referred to by theiracronyms "SEM" and "SEO".Search Engine Marketing (SEM)Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a broad term referring tomarketing a website through search engines to give greatervisibility and page rank to the site. While SEM can certainlyincorporate marketing through organic methods (SEO), mostpeople associate SEM with paid search advertising, andso this article will associate SEM with its paid advertisingstrategies and SEO with organic ones.Companies can spend anywhere from hundreds to millionsof dollars a month on paid search advertising.There are many ways a company can practice SEM...- Pay-per-click (PPC) (A budget is decided and cost isdeducted per click on the ad. The cost per click is determinedby the popularity of the targeted search phrase)• Google AdWords - The largest advertising product online and accounts for over 90% of Googles revenue• Yahoo Search Marketing• Microsoft AdCenter• Facebook and Twitter also offer various paid search options- Banner Advertising (Buy banner space for a flat monthly fee)- Cost-per-action (CPA) (Company buys ad sets guidelines for actions they want visitors to execute on theirsite and pay per completed action of visitor who arrived from the paid ad)- Directory submission (Pay to have your website listed on online directories. Search engines like Googleregard online directories highly)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)SEO is the practice of building a websites search enginevisibility and page rank through unpaid (organic) methods.The mathematical algorithms used by search engines vary,according to the components that those search enginesdetermine are the most important. Additionally, eachsearch engine is constantly tweaking, changing andupdating their search engine algorithms to detect moreSPAM and content that does not meet its qualitystandards. Search engines have become so adept atpushing out content that is low quality that businesses arenow employing or hiring people to ensure that they havecontent created on a frequent basis and of high enoughquality to meet search engine standards and avoid fallingon page ranks, or even worse, penalization. This is called content marketing. (Thats what we do here atDigitalSherpa!)Trying to figure out the algorithms of various search engines is an entire science that in and of itself. Since thesearch engine programmers will not reveal how they set up the algorithms. This ensures that only the highestquality of content is delivered to you on the top search results pages. If the folks at Google revealed how they rankpages, those with spam or artificial content might find their way on to your computer screen easier. (Have younoticed how rarely you come across spam when clicking on Google results compared to five years ago?)So how exactly does good SEO practice help you get ranked higher on those search engines? The right SEOstrategies will not only deliver the correct content to search engines, but will present it in a way that is attractiveand easily indexed by them for better page rank and faster rise up the search ladder.In addition to writing great content, some (not all) important elements of SEO...- Keywords• People use phrases and keywords people use when searching the Web to help them find what they arelooking for. Keyword selection is the process of deciding what words and phrases to build your contentaround and is an important process to a great SEO strategy as you want to direct your content to the mostqualified prospects.- Link Building• While not exactly simple in practice, link building is the simple theory of creating inbound links for yourwebsite. This can be done by agreeing on link exchanges with other websites, making sure you have linkson social networking pages, creating content for other websites that link back to you, or simply sendingout e-mails that link to your website. There are a ton of ways to link to your website and create a moreattractive Web presence for search engines.
- Titles and Headers• How you choose to describe your web pages and the sections of content on your web pages helps searchengines know what the page is about.- Competitive Analysis• What are your competitors doing? What keywords are they targeting? How much content are theydeveloping and how is it performing?You should notice a trend right now that SEO is all about delivering the right kind of copy in the right manner tothe search engines. Getting found online just isnt as simple as launching a website. Proper SEO takes realexpertise and time, but the rewards can be business-changing.Which should you be using?One of the most important decisions that a businessowner has to make is where to put your time, effort,and, money. Creating a clear and concise set ofmarketing goals is extremely important, as well asdetermining what kind of ROI (return oninvestment) to expect for your money. By utilizingelements of Search Engine Marketing, you have theopportunity to create a fast impact, increasing trafficand sales, sometimes within minutes of setting upyour advertising campaign.While this is an excellent short term strategy, oftenits not sustainable in the long term. Its sort of likeleasing a car or renting a house. You pay for thetime youre driving the car or living in the house,however, in the long run you have nothing to showfor it. An additional downside of paid advertising isthat, depending on what niche youre competing in, often paid advertising can become extremely expensive, with areturn on investment minimal. And its not just the cost of the ad campaigns that are expensive, but also the timeand expense to test the ads as well as creating the ads themselves. As the internet itself becomes more complex,the marketing itself becomes more sophisticated, with constantly evolving elements that make it difficult to keepup with the ever-evolving web which is one of the reasons why its important to integrate SEO.So, while it could be important to create an ongoing Search Engine Marketing program, many experts now believeits even more important to ensure that your website has its focus on high level SEO. Sure, allowing a website togrow naturally after its been optimized takes a longer amount of time, it also creates a more sustainable amountof traffic to your site and delivers that traffic in the long-term, as opposed to when your paid advertising budgetruns out as is often the case with SEM. Unlike SEM, SEO is not something that can be turned on and off with theflip of a PPC switch. Once the search engines rank your site high in the search engines, the traffic will start to flownaturally -- organically.
Many businesses choose to consider a paid advertising program short term while they are in the infant stages ofbuilding their SEO. The combined method will allow a site to get a jumpstart on increased traffic and sales, whilealso building brand awareness, and creating a sustainability that is required in order to remain relevant within theonline community.How To Get StartedWhatever marketing path you take for your business, it can be a challenge to find and hire someone who will dothe work that needs to be done and stay within a reasonable budget. In starting the search to hire someone to helpyou market your site, its important to verify the expertise and experience of the marketer.It might be counter intuitive, but one of the first things to avoid are those people who promise huge, fantastic,immediate results on a very small budget. The Internet is the largest marketplace in the world, so you will need tohire a service that will fight for your presence on the Web and put in the hard work necessary to beat thecompetition on search results pages.Here are three questions Id ask before I began to consider any Internet marketing service for my SEO or SEMservices...1. What SEO and SEM mean to you and how each could affect my business?2. What sort of work have you done? How have you delivered for your clients? (Marketing companies comea dime a dozen these days, make sure yours has a history of delivering to clients in a way that is sensiblefor you.)3. How often will I expect to hear from you? How will you report our progress to me in a way that I will beable to understand and evaluate?Its a great idea for a business owner to understand Web discovery before he has conversations with marketingcompanies about spending money with them. Its not necessarily important to understand each and every tinything about it, but it could serve critical to know and understand at least the basics SEO and paid searchadvertising so that you can make an informed decision about the direction to go and it will save time, effort,money and youll receive a much healthier return on your marketing investment.