Monday, November 25, 2013

Remember: SEO, SEM, and SMM are 3 Different Things

This article is here to make you a better client for any Web Marketing firm or freelancer.

Too often do I see people assuming SEO is everything about the website's marketing efforts, and are confused that there are different costs associated with it. To be fair, nobody outside SEO experts cares about the difference between SEO and SMM, but as a client, knows the difference, you will likely prevent frustrating the person managing your website's marketing efforts.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization
Proper page structure, header tags, meta and alt tags, backlinks - all things to allow search engines to better browse your site and determine the quality of your page

SMM: Social Media Marketing
Using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social platforms to build trust and as a PR interface

SEM: Search Engine Marketing
Some view this as the same as SEO, but I place Adwords Pay-Per-Click advertising and the like under this label

Just for the record, those three things are tied together which is why so many service companies offer them all. Don't be stupid and deny they aren't directly related, as in doing one is doing another as well.

Web design and SEO go hand-in-hand. They're not the same thing but there's a ton of overlap.

I can't tell you how many times I was approached to get a site into the search engines that had image menus, javascript links, dynamic content, a complete lack of h1, h2, etc, and even just things like overly complex page structure, or too much on one page. In terms of actually differentiating, it's arguable that you can differentiate those simply by pointing out the type of contract involved:

  • Web site design is a fixed-task type contract. "Build a website and stop."
  • SEO is a long-term ongoing engagement.
The part that pains me: accept that fact that going forward, if you want to improve at SEO, you're going to have to learn how to excel at SMM. And the market is going to reward those that do. It pains me because on a personal level, I think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the rest are stupid, and the development of these things as marketing and social platforms help no one but marketing companies.

Finally, I always advise moving on to SEM/PPC advertising AFTER getting the SEO and SMM down. The reasoning is simple: Adwords takes your Page Quality into account when determining what your bid and subsequent ranking will be. Without the SEO and SMM, you would have to pay more for the same keywords.

Hope that helps, and best of luck to you and your website!