If you’re interested in growing business by increasing traffic to your company’s website, you need to be familiar with some terms, especially SEO, SEM, and SMM. All of these acronyms stand for concepts that are crucial to gaining more website traffic through the use of digital marketing, so it’s important to understand what they mean and how you can use them for your business. For an explanation of what exactly SEO, SEM, and SMM are, how they’re different from each other, and how you can use them to increase traffic to your website, continue reading.

“SEO” vs. “SEM” vs. “SMM” in Terms of Increasing Website Traffic

To understand the difference between SEO, SEM, and SMM and what those differences mean for your business’s website traffic, it’s helpful to understand each individually.  Admittedly, this post is introductory and intentionally simplified in order to appeal to readers who may not know what each of these areas of digital marketing are or what they can be used for.  

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to the process of attracting website traffic using organic or paid online advertising on search engines. In short, SEM is the umbrella under which SEO and PPC advertising live. On the paid side of SEM, you buy advertising space on search engines, essentially guaranteeing that your website will come up as a result when someone searches for a term related to your business, the service or product you offer, or the industry you’re in. When a search result has been paid for (via Google Ads, Bing advertising, or other channel), it will appear at the very top of the first page of results and will say “ad” beneath it.

On the non-paid, or “organic,” side of SEM, marketers use SEO to compete for better positioning on Google’s or Bing’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Content marketing and “inbound” lead generation can also be considered a subset of SEM — if it involves users searching for things and you positioning your product in front of them, it is SEM.

A relatively new and growing type of SEM of Amazon marketing – you can pay for search ads on Amazon (sponsored brand ads), or you can optimize your product pages to rank better on Amazon’s organic search engine (in reality, if you want to make money on Amazon, you’ll need to do both).

What is “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO)?

Put most simply, search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving a website’s visibility on search engines for desired search queries. We are known for our SEO strategies for lawyers, so if a lawyer comes to us and wants to rank well for the phrase “personal injury lawyer in Chicago,” it’s our job to get them visible on Google. It is, essentially, the process of getting more website traffic by using specific techniques to get a website to appear higher on the SERPs like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others. Since people searching terms on search engines are most likely to click links that are closer to the top, it’s beneficial for businesses to do everything they can to get as close to the top as possible, which is exactly what SEO does.

To get a website to appear higher in search results, search engine optimization experts make sure that websites are aligned with the ranking algorithms of search engines. This means making sure the website includes relevant keywords that people are likely to search, creating original content that contains those keywords, optimizing the technical aspects of the site to meet Google’s guidelines, and making the site as user-friendly as possible.

The efficiency of the website, the navigation and architecture of the website, the metadata and alt-tags, the number of links to the website on other pages, and whether the website is optimized for mobile are other factors that can determine a website’s optimization for search engines.

While SEO and SEM are terms that refer to similar practices, it’s important to note the difference between them. SEO specifically means increasing website traffic by making the most of the search engine’s algorithm. Furthermore, this “organic” traffic is free. SEM encompasses SEO, PPC, and any channel relying on search engines.

What is “Social Media Marketing” (SMM)?

Social media marketing is the use of social media to drive traffic to websites. Content and ads are strategically placed on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapcaht, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other social media sites as a way to get users to engage with a business or brand. Some social media marketing is organic, with means it makes use of free, or native, content. Other social media marketing is paid, which means it uses ads and other paid methods such as sponsored content, retargeting ads, and more to generate engagement.

Social media optimization is an aspect of social media marketing that entails making a social media profile more visible so that content can be found, engaged with, and shared with other people, which can lead to more website traffic and ultimately increase search rankings.

The Differences Between “SEO”, “SEM”, and “SMM”

SEO, SEM. and SMM are different in that they use different methods to achieve the same result: more traffic and revenue through your website. While each has its advantages and disadvantages, they work best when used together. SEO is probably the most important type of digital marketing, but it’s more effective when used along with both SEM and SMM. To figure out if SEO, SEM, or SMM (or all three) is right for your business’s website, consider your goals and your long-term digital marketing strategy. Most businesses that are seeking to increase their website traffic can use multiple techniques at once to achieve their desired results.

Since search engines change their search ranking algorithms frequently, and the best practices for web searches and social media change constantly,  it takes a lot of expertise to understand what’s required to make sure websites can gain and keep their search rankings. To  make the most of their online presence, many businesses with websites use SEO, SEM, and SMM experts to help them with their strategy.

We Can Help with Your SEM and Digital Strategy

You can increase the amount of traffic you get on your business’s website by understanding the differences between SEO, SEM, and SMM. To learn more about how you can utilize SEO, SEM, and SMM to grow your business, feel free to get in touch with  us at any time by calling (215) 309-1631.