SEO vs. SEM: Which Do You Really Need for Your Product? - SEO and SEM Defined
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What is SEO?
SEO is the strategy and the actions that are designed to help you increase your rankings in the search engines. Many of these strategies are designed to work specifically with Google's search engine, but it does not have to be Google-specific. As a matter of fact, most of the strategies that fall under the umbrella of SEO will work for any number of search engines. Strategies that you may use in an SEO campaign include:
- Keyword optimization, which is the act of choosing proper keywords for your content, with the aid of research, to ensure that your content can be indexed properly by the search engines and show up in the results of relevant searches.
- Reciprocal link building, which is the art and science of linking to someone who will also link to you.
- Content targeting, which is the act of choosing a website's content in order to attract more visitors to the site.
- Inbound linking to a main or gateway page. This means creating links to your site that allow viewers to explore on their own and decide what content is and is not important.
- Creating track backs or link backs.
- In short, any actions that you take designed to raise your listing in the search engine with the end goal of creating more views for your site and no other purpose. This may encompass a wide range of activities not listed above.
One special note to the reader: while SEO can incorporate a wide range of ideas, not all of those ideas are good ones. There is a category of dirty and underhanded tactics that, while you may see them recommended online, can actually do some serious damage to your rankings and might even get you black listed from the engines' rankings completely. Be aware of this, and always research a tactic before you try it out.
Now we can take a look at what SEM is so you can see the difference.
What is SEM?
SEM is an Internet-based marketing effort that is designed to do one or both of two things. The first is to raise awareness of your product or service, and the second is to convert those visitors into customers, and their visits into sales. While SEO and SEM may use some similar methods, this goal actually makes SEM a much more complex task. Instead of just driving one behavior, a visit to the site, you will also have to persuade them to complete a sale. Some of the things that you may do when you practice SEM include:
- Creating targeted comments and links to your products that encourage visitors to learn more about your products and generate an interest.
- Encouraging or posting actual user reviews of your product onto sites or social networking communities in order to attract the attention of new potential customers.
- Creating and distributing press releases to generate buzz about your product and get authentic links to your site.
- Hosting or sponsoring a site or blog (or individual posts on other people's sites) that are designed to generate awareness of your product and encourage users to buy or use your product. (While this should be disclosed to the reader, not all sites practice this disclosure. Be sure to insist upon this, because you will end up with a poor brand image otherwise).
Now that we have our definitions ready to go, you may have noticed a few similarities between the two areas. Yes, some of the actions are similar; no matter which one is right for your needs, you will need to build links, and much more importantly, build relationships with your end users. Understanding who they are and what they want will be of paramount importance no matter what your goal at the end of the road happens to be. After all, you can't meet someone's needs with quality content or persuade them to buy what you are selling unless you can make it relevant to them. Or at least, you can't do it with any effectiveness.
Now let's take some time to look at who SEO and SEM will be right for. That way you can begin to plan your strategy with a strong understanding of what you need and an idea of how to go about it.
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