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Search Engine Optimization vs. Search Engine Marketing

Still unsure about last month’s article on SEO & SEM? Read on to find out more.

SEO & SEM what’s the difference? SEO, what are organic search results and why are they so important?
When trying to explain to a member the importance of getting your business’ website listed in search engines the terms SEO and SEM always come up. Quite often I’m asked what the difference is between the two.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is simply the process of optimizing your website so that the various search engines can index the data as you would like them to. For example, if you’re trying to feature a product for an upcoming holiday you might include keywords related to the holiday at various points.

When optimizing a page (SEO), there are a few key points to remember.
Content is king! The best sites have lots of wonderful wording that carefully incorporates relevant words that help boost your search engine rankings. Be careful though. Don’t simply type a bunch of relevant words in your content. This is known as “stuffing” and can be a detriment in the modern search engines.

Don’t forget to style your content. The paragraphs, header and other styling selection you make help search engines establish what the important parts of the content is. Properly formatted content is really important.

The Meta tags are important as well, but don’t carry as much weight as they once did. The Meta tags include brief descriptors such as a page’s Title, Description and Keywords that help a search engine interpret the content. However, these are simply suggestions. Quite often search engines ignore this content when determining where to list the page in the search results presented to the user.

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. SEM is a bit of an umbrella term that includes SEO as well as other practices all aimed as directly marketing your website. SEM is really an overall strategy. SEM takes into account your overall strategy whereas SEO is more specifically targeted.

SEM includes paid advertising, various optimized pages within your site, link exchanges, content exchanges and so much more. The components used are really determined by your overall marketing strategy and budgetary constraints.

Now let’s shift our attention to Organic search results. Organic search results are those listings that the website owner has not paid to show at the top of the search results list. These are vital to any successful campaign. These listings are listed based on the search phrase you entered (merit based). Organic search results are very important for a couple of reasons.

Organic search results are harder to get but they are more relevant. Because of that, your users will likely stay on your page longer. Paid search results sometimes don’t really have the content the user is looking for but at least get the user to your page. The problem with that is that user won’t stay long.

Organic search results usually hang around longer. Paid search results will be dropped from the results list once the money runs out. However, if organic results are getting traffic the search engines will typically keep these listings in the mix as they want to serve relevant and meaningful results.

Ultimately, there are many different ways to promote your site and content within. Promoting your site can be a bit of a challenge and even a bit of a game. Ultimately, like everything else in life, you get back what you put into it.
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