Acronyms. The technology community loves them because they shorten long descriptive names. The problem is many business owners have little understanding of these acronyms. While there are “official” definitions (SEO, SEM, SMO, SMM), the lines are getting blurred between which technique falls under each label. I will try to simplify these acronyms and show the primary differences.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO deals with your company’s PRIMARY website’s ranking on a search engine result page (SERP) and how the indexed result is displayed. SEO techniques try to improve a websites search engine rankings and gain that website more visibility and traffic.
SEO techniques can include optimizing how the website is built, what keywords are used in the Title Tags, Meta Tags, and Meta Descriptions, how often your website is updated, and how fast your website loads on a desktop and mobile device.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
SEM is usually closely associated with SEO. SEM is loosely defined as using paid search engine traffic to gain visibility. Paid results usually appear on the top and right side of the “organic” search results. There are many systems for SEM, but the largest platforms are Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter.
Building a SEM campaign for your business can be complex due to the vast amount of features and tools developed by ad platform creators. Marketers must consider all keywords associated with the business, geographic location, click through rates (CTR), costs per click (CPC), advertisement copy and many other factors.
SMO (Social Media Optimization)
SMO is a relatively new term due to the advent of Social Media Marketing. SMO entails developing profiles on social networks for your business so members of that network can view and share your profile with others. The goal is to attract more members to your online community and provide them with valuable, relevant information.
SMO can also include the process of optimizing social business listings such as Yelp, Insider Pages and Google My Business. Ensuring that these listings are accurate can help with organic search engine rankings.
SMM (Social Media Marketing)
The final acronym we will tackle in this post is SMM. Social Media Marketing is about promoting a business via social media channels and includes conversing with clients on their chosen social networks. It can also include “Paid Social Search” or social paid advertising. Paid social search is much like SEM but adds behavioral targeting to the equation. A majority of this advertising is based on a PPC model, meaning advertisers only pay when a user clicks on the advertisement.
The two largest platforms for advertising currently are Facebook and LinkedIn. Both allow demographic and geographic targeting, but each caters to a different community profile. LinkedIn is more business (B2B) oriented, where Facebook is typically more social and targeted to the B2C audience.
As the interactive marketing industry evolves and continues to grow, it will be crucial to continue to refine these labels. As always I welcome your thoughts on these categories and perhaps insight on some that are lurking around the corner.