SEO Basics: The Differences Between SEM, SMO, SMM, and SEO

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Published: 25th January 2011
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SEO basics teach us that search engine optimization is really a specialized part of SEM, or search engine marketing. One must use SEO in an effort to achieve results with SEM. Likewise, SMO- or social media optimization, must be used to be successful with SMM or social media marketing. The often-confusing definitions of these acronyms can make it difficult for those who are new to internet marketing or for those who are broadening their marketing experience by trying out new online mediums. While each one of these internet marketing techniques are independent in application, they are all really part of a group of practices that makes individuals, businesses, organizations and brands more visible on the web. Whether you use SEO, SEM, SMM, SMO or all of these, knowing how each is different from the other is essential to understanding how to apply these techniques for your internet marketing success.





SEO- Search engine optimization utilizes numerous practices to increase traffic to a particular website or page. However, the best approaches to this are holistic in that they not only increase website traffic; they also increase the quality of that traffic. Quality website traffic is traffic that converts- meaning customers that actually make a purchase, engage a service, sign up for a newsletter, provide their email address, or otherwise become a lead or an actual sale.





SEO seeks to gain this increase in quantity and quality of website traffic by strategically creating and placing keyword optimized content in locations that will generate publicity through organic search results. Organic search results consist of the information returned after a consumer has entered a search term in a search engine such as Yahoo, Bing, or Google. These results are driven by the SEO web content that you post on the internet. Search engine "bots" or "spiders" will index the information on your pages and use that to determine where you will show up when a customer searches for terms related to your business.





SEM- Search engine marketing is online marketing for businesses and individuals. The principal goal of this type of internet marketing is to improve a websiteís visibility on the search results pages of various search engines. This is accomplished using a combination of SEO strategies and paid advertising. SEM efforts can be found on the first page of listings returned after a search. The results bars across the top and sides of a search engine result page are usually paid advertising or paid inclusion in the listing. Utilizing SEO in addition to paid advertising allows a business to dominate both the organic and paid results sections of a search engine results page or SERP.





SMO- Social media optimization is a relative newcomer to internet marketing, rising in use in direct correlation to this rise in popularity of social media sites. SMO consists of creating and managing profiles on social media sites and networks in order to create awareness of a brand or service. This is done by attracting others to associate with the profile by creating updates, using social bookmarking, and video and picture sharing.





SMM- Social media marketing is similar to SMO, but goes deeper in the level of social interactions by blogging, taking part in online forums or chat rooms, and through paid social advertising and search. Essentially, SMM takes SMO viral.





Itís obvious that SEO and SEM are a related pair, and SMO and SMM are another related pair. However, utilizing all four of these practices individually actually serves to better your internet marketing strategies overall. For instance, when an SMM business blog creates links, it helps with an SEO campaign. Additionally, posting articles as part of an SEO campaign can boost SMO results if social bookmarking is used. But while all of these marketing techniques might be unique, there is one central difference between the two that can best summarize the goal of all of these acronyms:





SEO and SEM work to attract the attention of the search engines.


SMO and SMM work to attract the attention of people.





When looked at in this manner, itís easy to see that these are two very distinct approaches that must be managed jointly in order to achieve the most success possible with an internet marketing plan that includes SEO, SEM, SMO and SMM.


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