What is Search Engine Marketing?

According to AdwordsGoogle’s paid ads program for display and PPC (pay per click) advertising., an average of 177,100 people search for “search engine marketing” or “SEM” on Google each month. So what exactly does this term mean? Take a look around the Internet and you’ll run into at least three different yet related definitions. In this blogThis term originated as shortened version of “web log” and has come to be known as a regularly updated web-page, often containing news, opinion and personal stories. post, we’ll take a look at each of them and what they mean for your business.

Definition #1: Search Engine Optimization

In some places, you’ll see the terms SEO and SEM used interchangeably. Google itself will even provide some results for SEO when a search is made for “SEM” or “search engine marketing.” SEO is defined as improving the visibility of a website through on- and off- page adjustments. This can include adding content, enhancing meta tags, building links, and website analyticsMetrics such as the number of visitors to the page, which keywords got them there, how long they spent before navigating away, their journey through your site and where they click. These figures are valuable for determining whether optimization efforts for a site have been effective..

Most people, however, believe that these terms are separate but work together to serve the greater purpose of online promotion. HubSpot’s blog says that “It is important to note that you should never use the terms SEO and SEM interchangeably, because although they work hand in hand, they are not the same term.”

Definition #2: Pay-per-click Ads

According to the website Search Engine Land, search engine marketing (SEM) is “the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing ads on search engines.” In many places, you will see this practice labeled PPC, short for pay per click. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! sell space on their results pages for the placement of ads relevant to terms searched by consumers. Like the term states, businesses are only required to pay when someone clicks on their ad. They receive immediate visibility under relevant search terms that can result in business opportunities.

As you can imagine, the competition to grab this ad space can be quite fierce among different businesses. Search engines use equations (as they are known to do) to determine where ads are placed. To learn more about how this process works, click here to watch a video produced by Google or here to see two new videos we just added to YouTube.

Definition #3: SEO & PPC

Wikipedia says that SEM is “the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) through optimization and advertising”. Using SEO and PPC in tandem is a great way to take advantage of business opportunities online.

Research has shown that most consumers tend to click on listings found in the organic results influenced by SEO. But it can be difficult to maintain success in this area, especially for small businesses. In fact, businesses should expect to experience fluctuations in organic rankings. By using both SEO and PPC, businesses are able to have a consistent online presence and grab a larger fraction of search engine traffic.

So which definition is correct? Since the major dictionaries have yet to put forth a SEM definition for everyone to fall in line with, disparities will continue to exist. However, Search Engine Land offers one solution by using the term “search marketing” as an umbrella that includes both SEM (or PPC) and SEO. The important thing for your business is to understand the specific services involved in both PPC and SEO and how they might be beneficial to your business.

Contact Online Image® today to learn more about our search engine marketing services. We are equipped with the technology and personnel necessary to develop effective paid ad campaigns and help you find placement in the organic section of Google.