I have received a lot of questions lately about the differences in all of the web marketing acronyms we hear. SEO, SEM and PPC are all a part of the on-line marketing mix. (Social media is part of the mix as well, but that’s a topic that deserves a post of its own)
Most will tell you that the key to success in a web-based marketing plan is not only based on traffic numbers, but the conversions of those numbers. While this is partially true, I will explain in a moment why this is miss leading.
For starters, lets make sure we understand these acronyms.
It starts with an understanding of how each aspect of the mix works. In other words, it’s understanding that certain parts of the mix play certain roles.
I will briefly explain the different between SEM, SEO and PPC.
I think it’s a good idea to start broad and get more specific as we go.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM is the actual overall combination of the other parts. It encompasses SEO and PPC. This will make a lot more sense once I explain the others.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO refers to the coding of a website to make it more searchable using certain keywords. For example, your business might rent condos in Destin, Fl. When potential customers have no prior knowledge of your business, odds are they will turn to Google or other search engines. Here is what their search might look like.
In SEO, we optimize our website code to coincide with search queries like these. Since we can make educated guesses on how consumers search, we can arrange our keywords in web code and our text bodies in order to climb the search engine rankings. Here is a good way to think of it.
Google is trying to help people solve their problems. Someone’s problem might be getting a condo in Destin, Fl. How well can you solve this problem? SEO is the art of designing a website that convinces Google that you have the best solution to their problem.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Online marketing campaigns that are categorized as PPC are designed to entice Internet users to click on an advertisement placed on websites besides your own. A great example would be Google Ad Words. These are ads that are placed according to search keywords and geography. The ad then directs users to your website. PPC ads are all over the Internet. You can find them pretty much on all news websites.
So How Do They Work Together?
Let’s say that you place an ad for your website on WSJ.com. You sell lofts in Atlanta, and I just so happen to be looking for a loft in Atlanta, and I see your ad while I am reading the news. I click on the ad and it takes me to your site.
Congratulations, you just gained one conversion (Impression that resulted in a click).
I go to your site because I have a problem and your ad convinces me that you might have a solution. I look at the screen and I will make a decision in less than 30 seconds on whether or not you have the answer.
When I look at your site, I determine that you can’t help me. All of your PPC and SEO efforts are wasted because your website couldn’t help me or you couldn’t convince me other wise.
The Moral of The Story
No matter how much time or money you spend on SEM and PPC, your success truly starts with the design of your website. My advice would be to start with a good website and build your online marketing campaign from that. Be the solution to your target market’s problem.