SEO vs SEM
Posted by skratch on 6 April, 2010 with 3 comments
The only thing that annoys me more than telemarketers hassling me to take over our web design company's SEO needs is the improper use of the term SEO. In my 10 years of experience, SEO or search engine optimization technically stops with the design of a website. It includes the obvious stuff like meta tags, content, structure and site maps etc. Anything that involves post design work is SEM or search engine marketing. This includes paid CPC ads, backlink building, articles on blogs and so forth. The two terms are not interchangeable.
In fact, SEM is simply another form of marketing whereas SEO is the domain of web designers and developers. Furthermore, it is the combination of both that brings traffic to your site but it is the exclusive domain of SEM to get people to purchase products or contact you for a chance for you to sell them something. For example, you invent something new and the SEO of your website helps search engines find your site when customers become aware of your new-fangled product. Once the potential customer finds your site, they then need to be guided to make a sale - this comes back to basic marketing principles which is where SEM comes in.
However, SEM also means the proactive online marketing you do to get your website backlinks and traffic. Therefore, SEM is a much braoder term encompassing a wider range of techniques and methods than the rather rigid SEO methodologies.
Let's start using the terms SEO and SEM correctly please. Maybe then I can handle all the SEO telemarketers with a little less stress.