Saturday, February 21, 2009

Understanding SEO and SEM For Marketing Success

By Michael Fleischner

Sometimes there is a great deal of confusion between search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Although these online marketing techniques are quite different from one another, they share a number of similarities.

First, lets focus on how search engine optimization (SEO) and search marketing (SEM) are similar. Each of these online marketing techniques requires a basic and advanced understanding. SEO requires knowledge of search engine and how to effectively optimize a website or web page. SEM requires knowledge and understanding about online marketing, online advertising, and keyword marketing.

From the outside, both internet marketing methods appear to be very complex. The truth however, is that SEO and SEM are simple to understand. Implementation of best practices is what makes success such a challenge. Search engine optimization is essentially the techniques you use to rank well on major search engines is a direct result of your understanding and application of proven techniques in the area of SEO.

Search engine marketing is based on an understanding of online ad campaigns that are implemented on advertising networks. The largest online ad network is Google followed by Yahoo! and MSN. These ad networks basically work the same way. You open an ad account, place an online ad, and when users search for terms related to your ad, the advertisement displays. When someone clicks on your ad, you pay a fee.

SEO is different than SEM because it is based on natural or organic search results versus paid results. Search engine optimization techniques can be better defined as on page optimization and off page optimization. On page optimization directs you on how to design your web page in an effort to improve ranking and search ability. Said another way, on page optimization is closely tied to web site design and off page is more associated with factors outside your website itself.

The result is that search engine optimization drives organic traffic to your website or blog. That is to say that after users complete searches on major search engines like Yahoo! or Google that the results list comes from each search engine determining the best result. When users click on these results the advertisers owes nothing. Organic search is usually referred to as free traffic for this very reason.

Search engine marketing differs in that you pay when users take an action. Unlike traditional advertising you do not pay for your ad to display. You do however pay when a browser clicks on your ad. The amount you pay varies on the competitiveness of your keywords and the position in which you want your ad to display.

Doing business online requires a firm knowledge of both search engine optimization as well as search engine marketing Both internet marketing disciplines can support your online success. If you are not currently comfortable with SEO or SEM, begin with some simple research, explore SEO and SEM products, or subscribe to an RSS feed. Doing so can improve your knowledge and expertise in both of these areas.

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