SEO? SEM? WTF Does It All Mean?

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It's all well and good to throw a few acronyms around, but understanding their true meaning can add some serious value to the marketing department.


Most business owners I speak to have dabbled at some point in using professional search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimisation (SEO) services and those that haven’t have stayed away because they don’t understand it and don’t trust it says Smart Company’s Michelle Gamble.

It can be difficult to understand what’s being done by SEO and SEM companies and how to measure performance.  To many it’s smoke and mirrors, explanations and reports that make no sense and lots of money being spent on something that doesn’t deliver return.

As a skilled online marketer, using SEM and SEO in my own marketing and with clients for over 10 years, I know how difficult it can be to understand the value of work being done. Heaven help a business owner who doesn’t have a strong understanding of or skills in marketing.

Here’s what I’ve learnt when it comes to using these services.

Know the differences and set your expectations accordingly

SEO – is the process of optimising the content on your website, the structure of your site and creating and distributing content external to your website to make it more likely you’ll appear for key search terms.

SEM – or pay per click advertising – is paying for ads to appear when users search using certain terms on Google.

SEO usually takes longer to see results; however, the results can have lasting effects. SEM will drive results quicker but can be very expensive, particularly if the keywords you are targeting are very competitive.

For the full spiel, click here.

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