SEM, SEO, PPC, SMM and SMO – Confused Yet?

By on January 3, 2013

There are several terms that I keep hearing regarding marketing these days  and they all sound the same.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) , Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Social Media Optimization (SMO).  They are all touted to be vital to your marketing, but are they?  And what are they?

Search Engine Marketing is the term that encompasses all the techniques used to influence search engine ranking.  It includes organic SEO, SEM and SMO tactics as well as paid tactics like pay-per-click (PPC).

Search Engine Optimization is the term used most often as a catchall phrase to describe all sorts of internet marketing but really isn’t the appropriate one.  It encompasses only the things that can be done to impact organic, not paid, search rankings and includes:

  • Ensuring that your keywords are the most suited to your website content and have been researched to determine competition and search volume
  • Tailoring your web code to make sure that the search engine crawlers can easily read the appropriate information.
  • Utilizing metadata to tell the search engines what information your site contains.
  • Submitting your website site maps to the search engines so they know where to find the information contained in your site
  • Adding new and fresh content to your site on a regular basis so the search engines can find new information each time they search.  The search engines reward fresh content as visitors will be more likely to return to a site that continually adds new and relevant information.
  • And, of course, links to your site from other sites.  These links are most valuable when they are a natural part of the information on the other site.  Links from sites that exist only to host links to other sites, called link farms, have no value and can actually hurt your search engine ranking.

Pay-per-click, or cost per click (CPC)advertising is the opposite of organic SEO.  It can be very effective, but also very costly:

  • Each time a viewer clicks on the ad to reach your site you are charged.  The cost per click varies. 
  • The more competitive a keyword, the higher the cost will be.
  • Although search engines claim that these tactics do not affect organic search rankings, they do bring in enormous amounts of revenue for them. 

Social Media Marketing does not involve search engine rankings directly.  Instead it is using the opportunities presented by social media networks .  Companies can:

  • Use Facebook, Twitter, Google + and similar social networks to spread information about themselves, their promotions and events to people who have expressed an interest in them.  These people often spread the information even further to their friends. 
  • Use video and image sharing services like YouTube and Pinterest to share information about products, services or events
  • Connect with customers on all social media sites to foster relationships with them to increase customer loyalty or to address customer service issues.

Social Media Optimization is usually undertaken in conjunction with Social Media Marketing but more similar to Search Engine Optimization in results.   As more people interact with a site by liking, sharing, commenting, etc. the site is perceived by search engines as having more value for the users and search engine ranking is increased.

Although each of these aspects is distinct, all are important to successful internet marketing and branding.   They work in conjunction with each other to increase search engine ranking as well as brand awareness and loyalty.


About Ridge Marketing

Ridge Marketing is an agency that specializes in crafting creative digital assets and using websites, search, advertising and email to ensure that the right prospects interact with your brand and become loyal customers.