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Search Engine Marketing – what does it all mean?

September 13, 2012 2:09 pm Published by

We have all heard the phrase…but what is Search Engine Marketing exactly?

Marketers these days toss around acronyms like SERPS, SEO, PPC, and it can be confusing. We checked online for a simple definition.

Wikipedia: Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) through optimization (both on-page and off-page) as well as through advertising (paid placements, contextual advertising, and paid inclusions). Depending on the context, SEM can be an umbrella term for various means of marketing a website including search engine optimization (SEO), which adjusts or rewrites website content to achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages, or it may contrast with pay per click (PPC), focusing on only paid components.

Although the definition can provide a pretty good idea of all of the components involved in SEM, there is a whole other world waiting for you as soon as you dive in. Search Engine Marketers need to stay up to date on the latest keywords, quality scores, trends and algorithms. Understanding what it all means is only half the battle. The two main components of a strong SEM campaign are SEO (Search Engine Marketing) and PPC (Pay Per Click).

Essentially, SEO is organic, unpaid searches and PPC is paid searches. The SEO side of the coin is supposed to be ‘organic’ the natural results of a typical search. Google and other search engines are regulating a websites ability to control their own rankings through what they consider cheating. With things like Panda and Penguin making headlines, the overall process for implementing a simple SEO program can be daunting. In a great article about Changing SEO Strategies from the Huffington Post, they outline some of the key areas of focus for a strong SEO campaign. The general consensus? Content will drive SEO.

PPC is a little easier to control – but don’t be mislead into thinking it’s as easy as paying for a specific placement. Wikipedia defines PPC as “an Internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites, where advertisers pay the publisher (typically a website owner) when the ad is clicked. With search engines, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target markets. Bottom line? There is a lot more to PPC then meets the eye. In fact, Google even has a whole certification program to allow marketers to train in a very complex system.

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