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Thursday, March 19, 2009


Many individuals new to web marketing have some questions about search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Are they one in the same? How are they different? SEO and SEM have many similarities but are not the same.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing are similar in many ways. Each online marketing discipline requires a strong understanding of purpose and functionality. The practice of SEO requires a basic knowledge of search engines and how they work at their core. Search engine marketing requires an understanding of online marketing and advertising.

Both online marketing methods can be rather complex yet at the same time relatively simple. SEO can be boiled down to this. Where your site is ranked on major search engines is a direct result of your understanding and application of best practices in the area of SEO.

Search engine marketing is based on an understanding of online ad campaigns that are implemented on advertising networks. The largest online ad network is Google followed by Yahoo! and MSN. These ad networks basically work the same way. You open an ad account, place an online ad, and when users search for terms related to your ad, the advertisement displays. When someone clicks on your ad, you pay a fee.

SEO is different than SEM because it is based on natural or organic search results versus paid results. Search engine optimization techniques can be better defined as on page optimization and off page optimization. On page optimization directs you on how to design your web page in an effort to improve ranking and search ability. Said another way, on page optimization is closely tied to web site design and off page is more associated with factors outside your website itself.

The purpose of SEO is to generate natural traffic to your website. After a browser completes a search on Google or other major search engine, the resulting list is based on each search engines algorithm. When users click on these results you do not pay. Organic search is usually referred to as natural or free traffic.

Search engine marketing differs in that you pay when users take an action. Unlike traditional advertising you do not pay for your ad to display. You do however pay when a browser clicks on your ad. The amount you pay varies on the competitiveness of your keywords and the position in which you want your ad to display.

Online marketing is based on a good understanding of SEO and SEM best practices. These internet marketing subject areas are common among today's marketing professionals but rarely do you find the level of expertise needed for success. Learn more about these subject ares with some research and be sure to subscribe to an SEO newsletter or blog. As you gain more knowledge implement new techniques and improve your rankings.

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