How is search engine marketing (SEM) different than search engine optimization (SEO)?

Search engine marketing refers to optimization practices that take place off the website. Whereas SEO organizes the pages on the website for both the search engine spiders and the visitors to the site, SEM refers to all activities utilized to generate incoming traffic which is a vital element of moving site pages higher in search engine results pages. (SERPS) Common strategies and tactics include search engine and directory submission and back link development from blogs, ezines, forums, social media sites, and online news media.

If I my site has been search engine optimized do I need search engine marketing?

SEM is an active process of driving traffic to a website and improving search engine page rankings. Without it, a website would much like a bricks and mortar store that doesn’t advertise. Random passersby may find it but not in the kind of numbers required to make a business successful. Search engine marketing is the most cost-effective, fastest growing, and popular new marketing channels available, especially when compared to print and other traditional media outlets

Does SEM work for every kind of site?

Almost any site trying to generate revenues can benefit from a properly run SEM campaign. By raising awareness and driving traffic to your site the chances of purchases and or other forms of conversions increase. If you are in business, you need people to find your site and purchase from you. That is the core objective of SEM. The one instance where results could fall short would be where the cost of an SEM campaign would outweigh what could be expected from generated revenues.

Can I be successful running an SEM campaign on my own?

Running a typical SEM campaign can consume around one hundred hours per month at the outset and, because of that, is normally outsourced to SEO companies. While the do it yourself aspect might be tempting, re-dedicating a hundred hours to an employee or yourself is not going to be the best allocation of labor, especially there isn’t anyone in-house with SEM experience.

How do I know if SEM is working?

Contrary to advertising via traditional media, internet related activity is highly measurable. You will be able to track visits, click throughs, conversion rates, and a host of other metrics. Tracking is normally summarized by SEO companies on a monthly basis. Additionally, you can always check the keywords and phrases that are being optimized to see where your web pages are ranked on the search engines. One word of caution, any SEM campaign will take some time to show results so don’t be frustrated if you’re not on page one after two weeks. The timeline for significant results can vary widely depending on the level of competition for the keywords you are optimizing and your monthly budget.

How do I go about choosing an SEO/SEM company?

You’re going after results and the firm you go with should be able to deliver them. The best way to determine that is to check out how their existing clients are doing, i.e. how they rank, increases in traffic, conversion numbers, etc. If all other things are equal, lean toward a larger rather than a smaller one to ensure continuity should there be some turnover in personnel. Again, this is about results. You’ll have your choice of firms so be ruthless about demanding proof that each company can live up to its own billing.

Author's Bio: 

Gervais Group LLC - SEO Company / Atlanta SEO - for more information about SEO services visit us at or call 770-529-2262