The Difference Between SEO, SEM, SMO and What You Really Need

by | Digital Advertising, SEO

The Difference Between SEO, SEM, SMO and What You Really Need

Do you hear the terms SEO, SEM, and SMO and think, “huh?” Or maybe you think, “Yeah, I should probably get on board with that.”

It’s not just for the mega giants in the online world. In fact, if you hope to be in business in the coming years, you can’t afford NOT to know what they are and how you can implement them for your business.

Search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media optimization (SMO) aren’t concepts you have to be scared of. They aren’t something only the wealthy, well-established companies do, leaving small and medium businesses out of the loop.

Online marketing is all about awareness and visibility. Your customers will find you in one of three ways:

  • They already know your company and look specifically for you
  • You’re recommended by another website or company, and they find you by following a link
  • Your company is found through searching

Where online marketing comes into play is to help you be found in the online world. If a person isn’t quite sure of what to look for, is performing general searches to get more information, that’s the place you want to be. You want to be the company that provides high-quality information, becomes a friend, and provides the proper resources when a prospect is ready to take the next step.

So how do search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media optimization (SMO) come into play in all of this?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is the marketing process of getting more visibility in the search engines. You can do this by getting more free traffic – SEO – or paid traffic – paid search advertising.

With paid advertising, you are buying advertising space in the search engines. You pay money to come up under the various search terms associated with your products and services, within your business environment and your industry. You pay for results.

The most well-known advertising for paid search advertising is Google Adwords. With Google Adwords, you can get your ads to appear in the Google search results and pay for clicks you receive while being there. This process is commonly referred to as pay-per-click or PPC advertising.

SEM traffic is considered to be the most important source of Internet traffic because of how targeted and specific it is. When people have a question or a problem, they head to the search engines to find out the answer. So when a searcher clicks on a result and follows it to a specific web page, they are more likely to convert to a high-quality lead.

The relevance of the displayed information and advertisement makes SEM traffic more valuable than any of the other sources.

Dig Deeper
How Long-Tail Keywords Add Power To Your Blog
Social Media SEO – Is There Such A Thing?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is a subset of SEM. SEO is the free traffic you receive from gaining access to ranking within the search engines. It refers to techniques a business can use to improve how their websites rank “naturally” or “organically” within the search engines.

Done properly, SEO best practices can help your website naturally rank higher than other similar offerings. With SEO, you can’t buy your way into better organic rankings. These rankings are determined to a proprietary set of search engine algorithms established by the search engine companies themselves. If you do everything right, your website may show up higher in search results. If you misstep and do things the search engines don’t like, your results can cause lower search rankings or even get delisted from Google

Search engine crawlers look to deliver the highest quality rankings possible and will look for things like:

  • Descriptive page titles and URLs which incorporate keywords
  • A website that is regularly updated and has highly relevant content such as articles and blog posts
  • Inbound links from other websites that help showcase your site as credible and authoritative
  • Mobile-friendly content

The challenge with SEO is it is always an ever-changing environment. Search engines like Google change its algorithm for ranking websites all the time. It can require a lot of upkeep to ensure your website is always relevant and playing by the updated rules. This is why many smaller businesses prefer to leave this portion of their SEM strategy to the experts.

Social Media Optimization (SMO)

SMO is the next wave of online marketing and is the perfect marriage between SEO and social media. As a business trying to gain customers online today, you can’t do it without addressing the critical intersection of online visibility and customer interaction. That’s what SMO is designed to do.

SMO is a technique designed to promote your product, service, or company through various social channels. It includes video sites like YouTube, networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, bookmarking sites like Stumbleupon and Reddit, and much more.

SMO is designed to build the trust factor in the online world.

With SEO, it means targeting traffic through search engines. That includes both on and off-page optimization techniques. With SMO, it is mostly on-page optimization. That includes creating content that is easily scalable and available to all social networks.

In the SMO world, content is king. Content needs to be targeted based on proper research and include proper data throughout the page.

Which is right for you?

Now that we’ve defined each technique, which is right for you? Although SEM will get results fast, it is limited to the size of your budget. SEO and SMO are more long term solutions which, if done correctly, can continually bring in desired results. Most businesses select a variety of techniques within the online marketing umbrella to ensure full reach and a long-lasting impact.

Looking for a digital marketing firm in Portland Oregon, DMG is just one call away.

What is the right strategy for you?

More Articles