Technology terms are often misunderstood and misused — often by the very people who should know better. The terms SEO and SEM for example could mean very different things, and yet sometimes we use them interchangeably.
SEO is search engine optimization. That means optimizing a website to be search engine friendly and with the intent to increase the placement of that site on the Internet.
SEM is search engine marketing. That mean anything you do that promotes a website online. Posting a link to Facebook could be considered SEM. Sending an electronic press release could be considered SEM. And most confusingly… SEO can be considered SEM.
As I work with furniture retailers I am struck at how desperate they are to achieve high ranking for terms like “Name Your Town Here, Furniture.” The problem is they have no idea how to make that happen. The answer is most certainly SEM. But it needs to be strategic.
Google and the other search engines primarily want to get the right people to the right sites. They lose all credibility as a search engine if the results they display for ”Name Your Town Here, Furniture” show pages of sites that don’t provide the answer the user is looking for. So they look for the most credible sites based on a grading system called an algorithm.
The algorithm for each search engine is different, and the search engines also tend to change these equations to make them better. That is why people can make entire careers out of search engine optimization.
While this is highly complex and the target is constantly shifting — many SEO and SEM techniques are going to universally work in your favor. The first one is simple… say what you do.
So the first SEM tip I will share with you is this: Look at your homepage. Does your homepage say what town you are in? Now does it say “furniture”? Does it have those two things together?
You would be surprised how many sites do not… but let’s assume yours does. Count them.
Now go into Google and type in ”Name Your Town Here, Furniture.”
Click on the number one spot and count how many times they said ”Name Your Town Here, Furniture.”
If you are not on your own site counting right now….you need to figure out how to say ”Name Your Town Here, Furniture” at least as many times as they do!
That is a great first step! Now see where you rank and go write that down someplace… and then check it again next week when we will have another tip!
What strategies are you implementing to help your business with SEM?
Meghan Wier, Director of Web Projects & Search Engine Marketing at MicroD, is a Search Engine Optimization expert who has been active in the field for over 10 years – or at least before most people knew what that term meant!