What’s the difference between SEO, SEM, and SMM?

SEO, SEM, and SMM are Marketing Channels

  1. SEO is an abbreviation for search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to get search engine users to your website.
  2. SEM is search engine marketing.  This includes SEO and paid search (the paid ads that you see at the top of Google when you perform a search).
  3. SMM is an abbreviation for social media marketing. Social media marketing includes paid Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram ads as well as non-paid social media marketing efforts.

All three abbreviations are commonly used when discussing online marketing. Most successful websites engage in some combination of these marketing channels, including most of the top websites that you visit every day.


We added a video below, so scroll down if you’d prefer a video to reading!


SEO stands for search engine optimization, but what does that mean?

SEO used to be about gaming the algorithm

20 years ago, search engine optimization largely involved writing as many times as possible the keyword that you wanted to rank for. Google came along and heavily weighed the value of backlinks, resulting in a new focus on acquiring links from other sites to the site that the SEO worked for.  SEOs promptly began engaging in practices to manipulate the search engine results page, resulting in measures by Google to penalize sites caught trying to manipulate the results.

Today’s SEO is about providing value

In 2018, the goal of SEO is to gain the trust of the search engine by giving people what they want. This is accomplished by designing websites that:

  1. are easily crawled and understood by the search engine
  2. solves people’s problems
  3. serve as an information resource to other websites

There are a number of ways that you can help the search engine to understand and navigate your website:

  1. Create a sitemap and submit it to Google.  If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin, this gets generated automatically and can be found at www.exampledomain.com/sitemap_index.xml.  Go to Google Search Console —> Crawl —> Sitemap.  Submit your sitemap there.
  2. Use title tags as well as H1-6 tags.  By using header tags you will make your content more “skimmable” to visitors as well as the search engine.  It’s a great opportunity to place keywords relevant to your article.
  3. Link to other articles and pages within your site.  The search engine wants to understand which pages you consider to be the most important and authoritative; link to your most important articles that are relevant to the piece that you are writing.  If you’re writing an article about painting your kitchen and you did a piece about priming and sanding, link to the priming and sanding article.  It is both relevant to the current article and could provide value to future visitors.  Additionally, it can potentially pass some link equity that will help the other article to rank.
  1. Focus your content on solving people’s problems. Google has a number of ways to determine whether a website is solving people’s problems.  It is collecting all kinds of data on the way people interact with search engine results and websites; if your site seems to provide the knowledge on a given topic, you are likely to be worthy of consideration when the next person does a search on a similar topic.
  2. Google is not interested in “rewarding your website”—it wants to provide the best, most relevant results to searchers.  If you are able to demonstrate that you are able to provide the value to searchers that they need, you will be trusted and more likely to be recommended as a result for queries related to your content or business.
  1. Create unique content that provides value to other sites.  How-to articles, information related to your industry, anything that another website would want to reference will eventually earn your site links.
  2. Contribute to a community.  My experience has been that sites seldom earn links on their own. Usually sites earn links when their contributors are members of a community that refers to the content, makes its existence known in that circle, then earns links via references.


SEM Stands for “Search Engine Marketing”

Search engine marketing includes SEO, but also includes paid search.  I did a comprehensive guide on paid search that you can follow to learn the best practices in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.


SMM is “Social Media Marketing”


This is a term that many marketers were using up until around 2016.  SMM has largely morphed into “Facebook Advertising” since Facebook has captured such a large percentage of the money spent on social media.  Additionally, it’s become largely a paid channel since the organic reach of FB pages is now so limited.  Today, Facebook marketing largely means “paid advertising.”


Much—if not all—of “influencer marketing” is done on social media.  A brand reaches out to the representative of an influencer such as Kim Kardashian and pays her to put up a post related to the brand on social media.  Influencer marketing is arguably a subset of social media marketing, though it is rarely described as such.


When Is Lower Production Value Better For Video Content?

Sometimes, people want to see your brand’s pimples and stretchmarks.

“I don’t want any video to go up on our Facebook page unless it is broadcast quality.”

Our client had a brand image that was highly polished and refined.  We were discussing the business’s content strategy, and the topic had turned to video content; specifically, Facebook Live.  Until that point, the website had no video content other than advertisements and case studies of the work that it had done.  We suggested that the site begin featuring more video content, but it was rebuffed as being cost-prohibitive.  We countered by suggesting that the business could shoot “whiteboard-style” videos and behind-the-scenes content with a smartphone, eliminating the high cost of video production.  The owner did not want any video content that wasn’t broadcast quality, and to this day, the blog and social media pages have no video content whatsoever.

Does video content have to be broadcast quality?

Ten years ago, I would have answered “absolutely.”  Any shop that put out video content that looked in any way amateurish could have done more harm than good to their brand, leaving them worse off than if they had simply left “good enough” alone.  Now that high quality video equipment is available to pretty much any small business, the need for broadcast quality is actually less, and in some cases, could actually even be counterproductive.  For a brand that aims to foster trust and exude authenticity, lower production value can help them achieve it.

Wait, how can lower quality ever be preferable?

Today, people crave authenticity.  We have become so inundated with cleverly edited, touched up content that internet users have become a bit fatigued from it all; we live in a state of feeling like we’re being lied to. Additionally, we have become better than ever at sniffing out inauthenticity in what we find online.

It can be argued that many have come to regard much “high production content” as suspect.  We hear the occasional stories of high-profile Instagram models “outing” their pages as inauthentic.  Rapper Kendrick Lamar expressed the sentiments of fatigue with overpolished content, expressing a distaste for Photoshop and a wish to see “stretchmarks.”

This explains the odd success that people like DJ Khaled have had on media like Snapchat.  His Snapchat story about being lost at sea was viewed 1.8 million times.  He posts videos such as this that people love:

Why do people enjoy this content?  Because it is real.  Here, DJ Khaled is inviting us into his life, starring in his own self-produced reality show—a reality show that differs from the high production “reality” shows that we have become accustomed to because it is real.  People see that it was shot with a smartphone and posted to Snapchat; this is the brand equivalent to the “stretchmarks” that people like Kendrick Lamar want to see.

When your business or brand can benefit from “low production value” video

You want to create trust.  If you operate in an industry that needs to foster trust, low production value video can often gain that trust better than a video that could be aired at the Super Bowl.  An iPhone video will better communicate what it’s like behind the scenes at your business—just be sure to hide your startup’s ping pong table and piñatas before you hit record.  In other words, the fact that you are shooting with the smartphone lends authenticity, but you still don’t want to overshare.  As anyone that ever watched Chappelle’s Show can attest, keeping it real can and does go wrong.

You want to create a large volume of content.  For whatever the reason may be, sheer volume of content could be part of the content strategy that your business has adopted.  Being able to shoot and edit on the fly could facilitate this strategy for your company.

You need agility.  If you are creating content to create thought leadership for your brand, weeks are the equivalent of years.  If you want to create content about the latest Google or Facebook algorithm changes, you don’t have weeks to plan, create, edit, and promote your video. Get some decent lighting, a tripod and clip for your phone, and get it out ASAP.

Ultimately, there are advantages to creating video content with a smartphone.

The agility, authenticity, and cost afforded by smartphone video can create value for you and the audience you wish to reach.  For a brand wishing to outflank its larger competitors, this sort of content could be key in doing so successfully.  What are some brands that you’ve seen do this well?  Are there reasons to embrace low-production value video in addition to the ones that I have listed?  Does your brand have plans to implement a similar strategy?  I look forward to reading your comments.


Is Yext a Scam?

No, Yext Is Not A Scam.

It Is Ludicrously Over-Priced, However.

If you own a business, they have called you.  They even call us, an agency that does exactly what they do, only at 2% of the cost.  So should you sign up? What exactly does Yext do? Is it a scam?

The service that Yext provides is a local citations service.  They go to around 50-70 web directories and list your website for you.  One time.  Unless you move, change phone number, or change the name of your business, there is no more work for them to do, yet they still charge hundreds of dollars a month in monthly fees.  If you cancel—which some claim is incredibly difficult—all of your listings disappear.  So they get you hooked on their service for a few grand a year after a few hours of work.

Really classy move, Yext.

Can’t I Do This Myself?

Absolutely.  The hard part is finding the directories to list on, but we actually have a list of them in another post.  It’s probably a 5-6 hour job, but it’s a once and done.  We provide local citations services for business owners that are too busy, but if you have a staff member that you trust to handle it, have him or her do it.

Why Do I Need To Do This In The First Place?

The way that you get into Google’s local three-pack results is through local citations.  Essentially, your Google My Business information is being confirmed by all of these other directories; someone performs a search and the algorithm determines what to deliver to them.  If 40 different directories are confirming your info and 3 are confirming your competitor’s, you’re likely to come out ahead.

Can I Expect To Get Business Leads From The Directory Listings?

With the exception of Yelp, Homeadvisor, and some other niche-specific directories (like Avvo, Angie’s List, etc) I wouldn’t hold my breath.  We see the analytics of a lot of local websites, and we see very little referral traffic from directory websites, and even less conversions.  Getting listed in these local directories is valuable, but mostly as an SEO tactic.


7 Things You MUST Do Before Doing SEO for a Law Firm in New Jersey

These first tips are applicable regardless of where your practice is.

1. Claim Your Google My Business Account.south jersey seo company

This is your free business listing on Google.  Click here to claim it.

When you’ve searched for a service and saw the big box in the upper right hand side of the search engine results page (like the one to the right), that information was populated by Google My Business.  If you want your firm to pop up there, claim it and maintain it.  Post pictures, respond to reviews, stay active.  If you go to the Google My Business Dashboard, you’ll notice that there are analytics that let you know about people that called you, viewed your business, or asked for directions.  It’s good to keep tabs on this.

2. Get A Mobile-Friendly Website

If your site is not mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on cases.  If you’re really hurting financially, get a site from Wix.com or Squarespace.  If you’re ready for a big-boy website, make sure that it’s not only mobile-friendly, but that it also has tap-to-dial markup and tap-to-email.  It’s really simple to do and shouldn’t cost extra.

3. Set up Google Analytics and Search Console

Have your web designer set up your Google Analytics and Search Console.  Even if you have not idea how to read it, the data will be valuable in the future when your firm grows and you’re ready to hire a marketing agency.

4. You are a lawyer, not an attorney, law office, or law firm

When you start doing your SEO or Adwords, know that people look for “lawyers in ______.”  They are not searching for law offices, attorneys, or law firms, so if you focus on these terms in your online strategy, you’re going to chasing a smaller piece of the pie

These next few tips are insights that we have from working in the Greater Philadelphia region

5.  SEO and Adwords work wonders for B2C practices like PI, family law, or worker’s comp, but not so much for B2B practices such as real estate law or tax law.

Corporations are not really hiring tax attorneys that they find on Google, but the private individuals that work at those corporations do hire lawyers from Google.  If you cater to this population, SEO and Adwords will almost certainly be worth it.  On that note,

6. Adwords works and you should have someone do it for you.

If you have a good Adwords manager, you’ll get clients tomorrow.  If you’re curious about seeing some of the numbers that you’re likely to see if you DIY your Adwords account, check out this other post that we wrote about the topic. In a nutshell, Adwords can be hit-or-miss for a novice, but can be a major moneymaker if you do it right.  Following us on Facebook or signing up for our newsletter can help you get there if you really want to do it yourself.

7. People in South Jersey are including town names when they search for lawyers

This is good to know when doing your SEO and Adwords.  You will find that keywords targeting specific towns that you serve tend to be a little cheaper than the broad “worker’s compensation lawyer”-type keywords.  If you are focused on the town where your practice is located, we have found that ads running location extensions tend to extremely well, so be sure that they are set up



You Are Not In Business To Break Even

“You know, as long as we break even, I’ll be happy with the work you do.” – Countless clients we’ve worked with

What?  We’re not in business to break even.  If you are spending $95 to make a $100 sale, you are almost certainly losing money once you factor in overhead such as your rent, licenses, and electric bill.  On top of that, it might even be possible that you could make more money by closing up shop, taking your $95 and putting it in an index fund that delivers an annual 10% return.  Let’s get rid of the idea that as long as your Facebook ads, SEO, or Adwords campaign doesn’t lose money, you should be happy with the results.

What is your expected rate of return?

Without getting too much into MBA talk, how much money do you expect to make off a new customer? (profit, not gross sales)  Taking that into consideration, how much does an Adwords campaign need to make in order to be successful?  There are a couple factors that you should be considering before you answer this question.

  1. How risky is the plan?  If you’re looking at spending money on something whose likely results you are unsure of, you should be projecting a chance of making a lot more money than if you were to do something safe and tested.  If no one in your industry has ever successfully driven business through Snapchat geofilters, it may be something worth looking into, but it your forecasted sales are not sky high, it may be worth doing something with a more proven ROI.
  2. What is your customer lifetime value? When you think about that new customer, you need to consider the entire lifetime of your interaction with that customer.  Here’s a simple calculator to help you figure out your customer lifetime value.
    1. If you know that you have a high likelihood of getting a referral from a new customer, make sure that you take that into consideration.  Let’s say that one in ten customers send you a referral; take whatever your customer lifetime value is and multiply it by 1.1.

Please stop thinking in terms of breaking even.

Know how much you will make over the lifetime of a new customer and don’t spend more that 25%-33% of that number to acquire that customer.

If you are spending $9 to sell a product with a $10 profit, you may think that you’re making $1, but you’re not taking into consideration the overhead costs.  Running a marketing plan and a business like this is a sure way to fail.  If a marketing channel costs your $9 to sell a product with a $10 profit (or contribution margin), you need to pick another medium to advertise in.  Between Facebook Ads, Paid Search through Adwords or Bing, SEO, or any one of the myriad traditional advertising media, there will be a channel that will prove itself profitable.  The key is to recognize which are not profitable, because we are not in business to break even.



Can We Finally Admit it? “Millennials” Do Not Exist.

By Sagapixel SEO | Web Design | PPC

Before we get into this topic, let me preface everything by stating that I did not take time to search for data on the topic.   I am sure that there are studies out that that support these views; it would be quite incredible if the disparate groups of people placed into the “millennial” category were actually all the same.  If you happen to be familiar with any studies that support some of the ideas proposed in this blog, please comment and let me know.

Who is a millennial?

Can we all agree that a junior in HS and a 35-year old mother of 4 belong to different generations?

The definition of the millennial seems to shift regularly.  When I first heard the term, it included people born between 1979 and 1990; today, it has drifted to describe people born some time in the early 80s up until 2000.  This broad definition lumps together people whose first internet experience was on Prodigy and kids that don’t know what Y2k was.

Generations are defined by events, not dates

The baby boom generation can be defined by historical events: the end of WWII, Vietnam, the 70s oil crisis.  No one has considered this when discussing people born in the 80s or 90s; if we did, we would realize that the biggest events of the last 15 years have impacted “millennials” in different ways, creating groups with significant differences.

Please consider:

  • A 20-year old experienced 9/11 much differently than a 2-yr old did.
  • A 10-year old did not have to pay crushing student loans and while trying to find a job in 2009.
  • A person born in 1995 did not see her home’s value cut in half in a matter of months.

Many of the watershed moments of the last 30 years have shaped the behavior of people of certain ages—it is time to start recognizing these moments and how they have collectively impacted our psyches and spending habits.

“Millennials” are actually several different generations.

Mean Student Loan Balance for 25 year olds, in US Dollars Source: Federal Reserve

Mean Student Loan Balance for 25 year olds, in US Dollars Source: Federal Reserve

Millennials  born in the early 80s

Let’s talk about the experiences of the older “millennials.”

Those of us that entered the workplace before the Great Recession developed spending patterns that are vastly different than those that entered after 2008.  We graduated college between 2001-2006 with manageable student debt and entered a robust workforce; students that graduated 2007-2010 dealt with almost double our debt and no jobs to be found.  Pre-Great Recession grads vacationed, bought overpriced homes, and were burned by credit cards.  Post-Great Recession grads couldn’t find jobs, moved home with their parents, and are currently getting crushed with student loans payments.

A brand that tries to reach these two groups will be targeting people that have had vastly different experiences and have developed vastly different spending habits. It would make much more sense to segment us by our experience with this major economic crisis, as was the “Depression Generation” before Tom Brokaw christened them “The Greatest Generation.”

Millennials born in the 90s

The dot-com bust. 9/11. The Great Recession—these are topics that are largely foreign to the younger half of “millennials.”  Half of them were in diapers and the other half were getting ready for the prom while older “millennials” were struggling with the aftermaths of these era-defining events.  It would be foolish to think that both groups were impacted by them in the same way.  Bunching this generation with those that were out in the workforce when they occurred is nonsense.

Recognizing these differences can help us

When we talk about millennials, we’re talking about groups of people that have had vastly different experiences.  We would be better served by exploring how these different groups think, interact, and spend their money.  While doing so, we should also be conscious to avoid mislabeling typical characteristics of youth as being characteristics of a generation, but that’s another discussion.