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SEO vs. SEM

Posted by Lauren

22 Apr 2011 — No Comments

Posted in SEM, SEO

Search Engine Optimization and Marketing

What’s the best approach for you?

Because these two terms are often used interchangeably, many are confused by what each means or what each can do for you. Some of our initial conversations with clients are intent on taking the mystery out of these terms and helping you define the appropriate approach based on your goals.

Let’s start by defining both terms:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (a component of search engine marketing) is the act of optimizing a Web site to achieve organic (or natural) listings for crawler-based search engines. SEO helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine.

SEO includes, but is not limited to: proper phrasing of the page titles, proper naming structure of files, creation of a site map, relevant site headlines and copy, frequently updated relevant content, relevant meta-tags and descriptions, and W3C validation.

→ SEO is inexpensive but unpredictable.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing is the process of driving targeted traffic to your site by getting exposure of your site through various channels.

SEM includes, but is not limited to: SEO, content development, paid or sponsored listings, article placements, blogs, RSS/XML feeds, link campaigns, directory submission, banner advertising and tracking.

→ SEM can be costly but is controllable and predictable.

So what does this mean to you?

First and foremost, SEO should be part of the foundation of every site. It is an absolute must that is built into the site strategy, design and development by any reputable Web development team.

But remember, SEO can only get you so far. SEO prepares your site to be found by the search engines, but does not necessarily guarantee results.

To build an effective traffic-driving campaign, you must employ tactics beyond SEO. Your marketing plan must call on a variety of SEM methods to persuade the search engines to favor your domain. A successful SEM program will include monitoring your Web site’s visitor statistics and analyzing your competition; submitting your site to search engines, directories, and vertical markets; creating and managing online advertising campaigns and more.

All of these SEM techniques are ways to make your Web site more visible to the audience you seek. With greater visibility and repeated site visits, your site’s organic ranking will also continue to improve.

So, what’s the best approach for you? If your business relies on a steady stream of new leads, the answer is both!

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