SEO, SEM, and SMM are Marketing Channels
- SEO is an abbreviation for search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to get search engine users to your website.
- 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).
- 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.
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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:
- are easily crawled and understood by the search engine
- solves people’s problems
- serve as an information resource to other websites
MAKE YOUR SITE EASILY CRAWLED AND UNDERSTOOD
There are a number of ways that you can help the search engine to understand and navigate your website:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
SOLVE PEOPLE’S PROBLEMS
- 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.
- 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.
SERVE AS A SOURCE OF INFORMATION TO OTHER WEBSITE
- 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.
- 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.