What is Search Engine Marketing


People use different phrases for different things. For example, common industry words and acronyms include SEM, Search Engine Marketing, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, PPC, Pay Per Click, Search Marketing, AdWords, and many more. Let’s help clarify some of these commonly used terms.

Key Term #1: SEM or Search Engine Marketing

To be honest, if you were to ask a bunch of people “what is search engine marketing?”, you would get a bunch of different answers. One segment would say that it means the same as PPC, another segment who thinks it is the same as SEO, and another segment that thinks it refers to both SEO and PPC as a whole.

According to SearchEngineLand, search marketing

“is the process of gaining traffic and visibility from search engines through both paid and unpaid efforts”

So by that definition, it is the umbrella term that covers both SEO and PPC. However, SEM most often refers to the general category of working with paid search activities. As a result, we commonly get asked

“Does Sebo do both SEO and SEM?” while other people might say “Does Sebo do both SEO and PPC?”

Key Term #2: SEO or Search Engine Optimization

In summary, this is the process of doing things to get more traffic to your site through unpaid or free listings. Some people will also use phrases like getting more “organic” visitors or more “natural” visitors.

The top results in the search engine results page (see SERP lower on this page) are in that position because their site meets the criteria for getting good rankings by that particular search engine. For more information about SEO, visit Sebo Marketing’s SEO Overview Page.

Why do some people call these “organic” listings? Since Google shows these results based on their search engine algorithm, and you aren’t paying to show up in these results, they are known as organic listings. In fact, inside of Google Analytics, Google uses the term “Organic Search” to show the visitors that arrived at the site via SEO.

Key Term #3: PPC or Pay Per Click Advertising

PPC refers to the process of getting more visitors to the site through the use of ads. The ads show up for free, and when a searcher clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays for that click. Thus, the advertiser pays per click that comes to the site. Some people also call this “cost per click” or “CPC advertising.”

Initially, this only referred to ads that showed up on the pages of a search engine, but PPC now encompasses much more than text based ads based on searches made on the home page of a search engine. To learn more about PPC, visit Sebo Marketing’s PPC Overview Page.

Key Term #4: Google Ad

While many people think that PPC is the same thing as Google Ads, it is important to realize that PPC refers to the concept through any search engine (Google has PPC, Bing has PPC, Yahoo has PPC, etc). Google Ads simply is Google’s PPC system. It is very possible to do PPC on other search engines as well.

Key Term #5: SERP or Search Engine Results Page

When someone does a search for a specific keyword phrase, the resulting page might include PPC ads, SEO or Organic results, map results, shopping results, etc. All of those results are different categories. To show up in all those places, you have to implement different strategies to show up in those spots.

Some people will refer to the SERP and incorrectly refer to that as their position on that page. Meaning, a search for Sebo Marketing shows our site at the top of the results. Some might say that our SERP is #1. That is because some people think that SERP stands for Search Engine Ranking Position.

Technically, you can be in position #1 on the SERP. And don’t say that “my site shows up 1st on the SERP Page” since that means Search Engine Results Page Page.

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