Blog: Social Media Tips

SEO vs SEM vs SMM?

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Marketing is full of buzz words and jargon, some of which are harder to understand than others. Take for example, SMM, SEM, and SEO. Are they just a jumble of confusing letters, or are they important? They’ll be defined differently by different people, but in broad terms, what do these acronyms actually mean, and why does that matter to the business owner?

  • SMM is short for “social media marketing” and is has to do with the promotion and engagement with fans on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
  • SEO, “search engine optimization,” directs traffic to your website through specific strategies on your website meant to get a higher ranking on user searches through portals such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
  • SEM is an acronym for “search engine marketing” and it has to do with getting website traffic to your site through combinations of SEO, as well as with paid advertising efforts. This term is the more broad term, and it includes SEO, but it is more than SEO alone.

Why should you care?

  1. Most online marketing companies specialize in one area over another. Know what your goals are before you engage a marketing company to help you so that you engage the right kind of help.
  2. Take into consideration that the definitions above are very generalized but there is a major distinction between SMM and SEO/SEM. The first (SMM) focuses on interactions and relationship building, and the second two (SEO/SEM) focus on driving traffic to a website. There is a big difference in the focus. You may need both aspects, but give serious consideration to your goals here.
  3. If you skew towards or include SMM, then you need to remember that time and energy will need to be spent on regular, fresh content. Whether you create all of your posts and conversations yourself, or whether you outsource this task, there will need to be daily attention to this effort on your social media platforms. Social media managers tend to be cheaper to hire than SEM/SEO companies, but the return on SMM may seem less profitable because it always takes more time to build relationships, and relationship building does not always translate into immediate sales.
  4. If you skew towards or include SEM/SEO, remember that algorithms on how search engine results are acquired change regularly – almost daily. That means you should expect this to be an ongoing commitment, not a one-time fix. To be found on the first page of Google, for instance, is a daily battle. It’s not about relationships or conversations. It’s about links, relentless key word research, updates and adjustments. Payoffs tend to be higher for driving traffic to your website, but that adds an expectation that your website will be continually updated and monitored for the best results.
  5. Finally, no matter where you place your emphasis, sales are a result of how engaging you are as a company or a product. Marketing of any kind can only produce visibility and build a reputation. Ultimately, sales come from the customer service, quality of products, and need you fill for your customers. SEM, SEO, and SMM can only assist you in being accountable and getting found. The rest is up to you!

About the Author

Camille RodriquezCamille Rodriquez is the founder and owner of Polka Dot Impressions. She speaks and writes regularly about social media marketing strategies and trends, and she is also the author of a Christian devotional titled, "When I Die - On Being, Living, and Having the Last Word."View all posts by Camille Rodriquez →