SEM vs SEO vs PPC With Your Brevard County Florida Business

SEM vs SEO vs PPC Defined:
What’s the Difference?


As my thinking is, search engine marketing, or SEM, would be (and once was) a useful
way to summarize and classify both the paid and non-paid initiatives that go into Digital
Marketing via search engines. That would mean both the pay-per-click advertisements,
or PPC ads, and the organic search initiatives commonly referred to as search engine
optimization, or SEO, would fall under that SEM blanket term.

SEM would be the category of Marketing through search engines. The paid (PPC) and
non-paid (SEO) channels of SEM would both fall under it in terms of hierarchy. And, even
when you consider the literal terminology in coordination with this idea of SEO and PPC
falling under that SEM blanket, it almost makes sense. But, much like the English language,
pop culture, and the Cleveland Browns, it simply can’t work the way it’s supposed to. There
will always be exceptions to the rule (like the conundrums above).

So, confusing it may be. But the search industry shapes itself, adopting the term
SEM to fit strictly into the paid search sphere. It surely appears it’s there to stay, too.

Difference Between SEM & PPC


PPC is SEM. That is, pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is the same as
search engine marketing (SEM), or at least a vital part of it.

SEO is none of those things.

What likely evolved over time due to the multiple potentially confusing Digital Marketing
acronyms, as well as the need to define specific paid initiatives outside of Google paid
search, brought two heavily used cost-driven Marketing terms to mean the same thing
(leading to even more potential confusion from newbies). I’ve always tried to make sense
of the literal meaning of things, too, especially acronyms. But from there, it’s easy to get
even more lost in the idea.

While the breakdown of the abbreviation PPC is spot on — regardless if it’s called PPC,
CPC, paid search, search ads – we know it is referring to paid search marketing, typically
through search engines like Google and Bing. Other terms and tactics used in Digital
Marketing initiatives – especially those tied to search marketing tactics (both paid and
organic) – may not be so simple and clearly defined, though.



Difference Between SEO & PPC


We know SEO is search engine optimization.

But, to echo the sentiments of search pioneer Mike Grehan, that never did make much sense.
Marketers aren’t optimizing search engines; we’re optimizing content and websites for search
engines (secondly, right after optimizing them for humans) so they can better understand, access,
and relay our property to the masses. Again, acronyms don’t always make sense. So, naturally, this
is a bit illogical. Just like other things in life that don’t always add up, there are some acronyms that
will never make sense either. Like Humvee, which doesn’t stand for any words that start with U or
E in them. (It stands for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, and was spawned from the
original acronym, HMMWV.)

We’ve also determined that PPC marketing is (at least now)
the same as, or a very large part of, SEM.

Both are paid initiatives.
– Both need budget.
– Both make search engines like Google and other
advertising platforms a lot of money.


But, while Wikipedia defines SEM as “a form of Internet Marketing that involves the promotion
of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) mostly through
paid advertising,” it’s not so quick to call them the same thing. In fact, pay-per-click Marketing
has its own separate Wikipedia page than the topic of search engine Marketing (despite there
being plenty of discrepancies and confusion throughout the page). The bottom line is this:

SEO is not a component of SEM


And, while PPC is typically the largest and most demanding component of SEM,
both PPC and SEM are paid initiatives that offer real-time data, ROI, and protected
data that can only be accessed by advertisers of certain platforms.

Why It Matters


The most important reason for clarification around these important terms and abbreviations
is consistency. Too many novice Marketers, or Marketers who aren’t specialists in maximizing
value through search, have adopted these industry definitions and crossed them, combined
them, confused them, and used them in a way that only further diluted their true meaning.

And even well-seasoned Marketers who simply didn’t agree with or possibly even completely
understand the terms themselves help contribute to the turning tide as well. Conferences have
set up entire segments of their educational offering around the SEM naming convention when
referring to strictly paid Marketing efforts, but those efforts aren’t strictly done through search
engines. SEM, at least from this perspective, includes PPC ads on search engines but also on
third-party platforms like Amazon and YouTube, as well as industry-focused platforms like Houzz,
or Thumbtack, or Yelp. It also includes display ads and remarketing efforts. And, as the opportunity
to advertise on Social Media continues to grow, it will include paid advertising on those networks,

Keeping the definitions and their usage consistent is going to be the best way to keep the
information organized in a way that makes sense for Marketers. It also helps us as Marketers
to convey our thoughts and ideas to clients and their stakeholders, our peers, or a friend who
is curious about what exactly it is we do for a living.

Using the Marketing Right Terms
for the Right People & Setting


When discussing Digital Marketing – specifically search Marketing – and how it pertains to a brand
or message, it’s important for Marketers to use language that is digestible for clients and potential
clients. 8 of 10 times, non-marketers already don’t know the difference between incredibly different
key terms. Like SEO and PPC (or SEM), when speaking to someone outside of the search
Marketing community, these terms need to be clearly defined at least once, and typically more
than once, throughout the conversation. We all have those new-business pitch stories where a
client goes on throughout years of his or her life thinking SEO is responsible for paid search ads
or that paid search ads were achieved through organic optimizations.

First, the terms must be understood on a level playing field.
Hopefully, this post helps do that.


We now agree that:

– SEM and PPC refer to paid initiatives through search and other advertising platforms.
– While SEO is the organic effort that goes into Marketing through search engines.

Secondly, we must always consider who the audience is and the level of knowledge it has when
it comes to Digital Marketing, particularly search Marketing, while also ensuring we detail:

What each term means, how it works, and how it relates to the audience’s goals.

Lastly, and most importantly, we must never assume someone on the other end of our conversation
knows what we are referring to when we use important industry terms like SEO, PPC, or SEM. We
must be concise and explain exactly what we are talking about. Ensure the group partaking in the
conversation agrees. On a bad day, someone else in the room may disagree and tell us we are
wrong. On a good day, though, we’ll get a room full of people all on the same page who are able
to move forward and correctly use consistent terminology for some of the most important practices
in Digital Marketing today.


Final Thoughts


I give credit to Sam Hollingsworth, who wrote this article. I thought it was great to put it out there
again. He specializes in general SEO, content strategy, and Social Media. And this information is
crucial to know and learn for any Small Business Owner. I also would inject, that a Business Owner
needs to hear things like this in simple and easy to digest terms and explanations. So, it can also
be portrayed as “there will be additional costs, if you wanted to directly market through “ads” …
And, instead of focusing on “getting found”, or more organic exposure, you can focus or filter
your Marketing efforts by using “Paid ads” on the networks …

As usual, your budget, how much you invest back into your business
for growth, and whatever you are willing to do to get the job done.