Frequent readers of my blog and my Small Business Newsletter will recognize that I write a lot about Search Engine Optimization (or SEO). I’m a big fan of SEO – it’s like free advertising for your business.
What, then, is Search Engine Marketing? Isn’t that just the same thing as SEO, by a different name?
Not quite. Here’s the difference – Search Engine Optimization is making sure that your web pages are optimized with your important keywords (words that your prospects use to find your services online); it’s making sure that you have links internally on your site to all your pages so the search engines can find them, and that you have numerous inbound links from popular, relevant sites as well; and it’s making sure that your web pages are designed in such a way that the search engines will consider you relevant for the keywords you want to be found for, and will rank you appropriately.
Search Engine Marketing, on the other hand, refers to activities that you undertake off of your website to market your website and drive traffic to it. Usually this means pay-per-click advertising – or sponsored listings – where you are advertising your site with the search engines and paying for every click that you get.
It’s estimated that over 80% of the people will click on the “organic” search engine results – so this makes SEO a no-brainer in my opinion. That being said, SEM has it’s place and can really help you increase traffic to your site, especially when your site is new and you are building a reputation with the search engines online.
As with most Internet marketing tactics, a combination of both is usually the best bet – although I tend to recommend SEO much more often than SEM, due to cost and effectiveness.