Search Engine Marketing

Confusion abounds when people start talking about Search Engine Marketing (SEM), mainly because of the differences between it, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Here’s my “simple” explanation of what can be a difficult area to understand.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of improving a web site’s placement in the FREE listings of the search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Bing etc. These free listings are also known as “organic” listings.

SEO involves:

The key to successful, long-term results with SEO is doing things within the guidelines suggested by the major search engines. Using the good, ”white-hat” tactics, you’ll also be less worried about the latest Google “slap” (where Google changes the way it looks at things to improve their results).

Sneaky tactics (”black-hat”) almost always (eventually) result in penalties being applied by the search engines – i.e., your rank may be reduced, or more likely, your site may be totally removed.

Black hat tactics include (but are not limited to):

So if anyone suggests doing this to your site… heed the words of Elmer Fudd and “Be very, very careful”

Even though “white-hat” tactics are easy to implement, most people still overlook the basics of SEO. So if you make small changes to your pages, it can result in a huge improvement to your overall position in the organic search engine results.

So right from the start, make sure

More Information on SEO:

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM aims to create additional traffic to websites by increasing their visibility on the search engine result pages (SERPs).

This is where things can get confusing… because SEM can include tactics to improve your results in the ”organic” listings, as well as other tactics which COST MONEY to implement.

To avoid confusion, it’s probably best to leave any discussion of “free or “organic” traffic to come under the realm of SEO.

And think of SEM or Search Engine Marketing as those marketing practices that COST MONEY to generate the traffic – i.e.,

Companies offering Search Engine Marketing services usually perform a range of BOTH SEO and SEM activities including:

Now, you CAN do all this yourself if you have the time and the knowledge. If you choose to do that, you simply MUST become very familiar with PPC programs before you start. If you don’t, your expenses can be potentially quite large from making newbie mistakes with such basic things as the wrong keyword selections!

If you don’t have the time to D-I-Y, and want to use a Search Engine Marketing firm, it also doesn’t hurt to better understand what happens before engaging someone.

That knowledge will help you choose a reputable SEM company over the less desirable ones in this industry!


The proliferation of spammers in this industry makes life difficult for both SEO professionals and their customers.

It seems that almost anyone can claim to be an SEO expert these days! And there are a LOT more untrained hopefuls starting every single day!

There are also a LOT of horror stories about the “work” being done by such people, and businesses being charged for work not done (nor even required).

My recommendation here is to BE VERY CAREFUL about WHO you employ to look after your SEO and/or SEM… and then keep a close eye on what they are actually DOING, and charging you for!

And that means you DO NEED to know what is involved 🙂