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What Is the Difference Between SEO and SEM? And Where Does PPC Come Into Play?

By August 13, 2015 April 20th, 2017 No Comments

By: Charly Hartley, Senior Marketing Specialist

You’ve probably heard these acronyms, but what do they actually mean? More importantly, why do they matter to you as a small business owner? For the average business owner, these terms can be very confusing to understand. There are so many ways to build an online presence and, with today’s technology savvy consumers who turn to the Internet in all steps of the buying process, having a website isn’t the only thing to consider. You have to plan out your website design down to its user-friendliness, and the content on your site. And let’s not forget about social media! So how are you supposed to incorporate these acronyms into your online strategy, and maintain the day-to-day responsibilities of your business?

When you use an Internet search engine, whether you favor Google or Bing, you’ll see two kinds of results. First, there are organic results (free), and of course the ads (paid results). Organic is commonly referred to as SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of controlling how and where your website appears in organic (unpaid) search results. SEO is also an important process of improving the ranking of your organic search. Ranking refers to the page, and how high up on the page your company’s site will appear. Many things factor into your organic SEO results that you probably aren’t even aware of: the URL used, keywords and content on your website pages, the way headers are used, tags, links, and more. The more developed your SEO strategy is and the higher your ranking, the more your site gets in front of people, which is important to you for increasing business without spending some of your limited advertising dollars.

Paid results are exactly that–paid for, which brings us to that other confusing acronym, SEM. It stands for Search Engine Marketing which refers to paid search results. Pay-Per-Click advertising, called PPC, is the format of how ads purchased appear on search engines. PPC is just how it sounds–you pay for every click on an ad that comes to your site. It’s important to keep in mind that you pay for that click regardless of eventual conversion to a sale or revenue for your company. Because of that, you should filter out keywords and geographic areas that are too broad or not relevant to your business. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying for clicks you don’t need, which quickly diminishes your advertising budget.

Starting SEO, SEM and PPC campaigns from scratch can seem like a huge task, but once you understand how it all works it becomes easier to incorporate the pieces. It’s important to remember that SEO, SEM and PPC all have one thing in common: keywords. Focus your efforts around keywords relevant to your business, and you’ll see real results from your efforts.

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