Search Engine Marketing (SEM)


Many people confuse search engine marketing (or SEM) with search engine optimization (SEO) for short, but there are some important distinctions. While SEO tends to focus purely on improving site rankings, SEM emphasizes the full range of marketing techniques.

One might consider SEO to be a subset of search engine marketing, as improving natural search results is a key element of most SEM projects. In addition, though, SEM can include pay per click strategies and management, as well as overall web marketing strategy development. Pay per click (PPC) is a key component of most SEM campaigns; although clicks can be costly, sometimes the ROI is at least as good as spending large sums to attempt to achieve natural results. PPC offers the advantage of instant results compared to the sometimes slow climb in organic rankings.

Web analytics are another component usually part of search engine marketing. Web analytics are a broad category of analytical services often looking at traffic data, conversion rates, cost per conversion, ROI, and more. Ultimately, they provide decision support for web marketers seeking to invest their funds in the most profitable way.

As with most topics in this field, companies looking for search engine marketing services shouldn't assume that all potential SEM partners use the same definition or provide the same services. Rather, a firm looking for an SEM partner should carefully analyze all proposals to determine exactly which services are included.

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