What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

If you have been looking around for help getting your website ranked better in the search engines, you’ve likely come across a few terms that can be slightly confusing.  Search engine marketing (SEM)  and search engine optimization (SEO) are the two main terms that are tossed around and it’s assumed that consumers just know what they mean.

If you don’t quite understand the difference, don’t feel bad.  It’s not you!  Many in the online world are guilty of tossing around confusing terms and not fully explaining them.  Sometimes I wonder if professional SEO’s (people who do this stuff for a living) use industry-exclusive terms in order to sound smart or more sophisticated?  Who knows…

If you’re wondering what exactly Search Engine Marketing is, here’s a simple answer.  Search engine marketing is a phrase that encompasses a number of activities including search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising (PPC) social media marketing and content marketing.  It’s the generic term used to convey all those elements.  Some in the field may break it out further, but for simplicity, I won’t do that.

Here are the 4 elements that make up the term “Search Engine Marketing.”

Search Engine Optimization – Analyzing various factors on your website and elsewhere to find out how to improve your search engine rankings.  This can involve analyzing your website structure, the content on your website and building backlinks from quality sources, all in an attempt to improve your website’s visibility online.   FYI: Jonathon Hyjek online believes in doing “white-hat SEO.” In other words, doing things that are ethical.  Anything spammy or unethical, we won’t do!

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC) – Anytime you search for something in Google, you will see ads at the top and side of the pages, often shaded a slightly different colour.  These are advertisements that are paid for by the person advertising.  Each time someone clicks on the ad, the advertiser has to pay money to Google.  This can be from as low as a few cents per click to over $20 per click for very high competition keywords.  PPC advertising may be a good option for you if you have a good quality website to direct people to.

Social Media Marketing – This is simply a fancy name for using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Tumblr or some other social network in order to advertise.  Some of this is completely free while some of it will cost money, usually on a pay-per-click basis.  Social media marketing involves communicating with and engaging your customers, clients and prospective customers/clients.

Content Marketing – Content marketing involves writing high quality content and distributing on different websites.  The most obvious and best place to put your content is on your website or blog.  Beyond that you can submit it to various online article directories, however be very selective where you distribute your content.  Look for websites that seem to only have good quality content on their website.  Traditional article directories have been guilty of accepting content from anywhere and have often been filled up with spammy content.

I hope that the information about has helped you to understand what Search Engine Marketing is and if you should be looking into it for your business.  Although I may be biased, I believe that EVERY business should have some sort of search engine marketing strategy/plan in place.



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