What’s the relationship between SEM, PPC, and SEO?

by David Bain August 15th, 2011 

Search engine marketing, search engine advertising and search engine optimization are 3 broad internet marketing topics, but what is the precise nature of their relationship?


Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is the overall umbrella term for anything that brings visitors to your website via a search engine. This includes both free and paid traffic.

The free traffic is generated by improving your sites search engine optimization, while search engine advertising (paid traffic) can be used to quickly drive significant volumes of targeted traffic to your website.

Search Engine Advertising

The most common form of search engine advertising is pay per click (PPC), such as the links to the right hand side of the Google search results page.

However, there are other forms of search engine advertising that shouldnt necessarily be overlooked...

Pay per impression advertising, often referred to as CPM advertising (cost per thousand impressions) is more commonly used for brand building campaigns. Although pay per click advertising is more popular, the use of pay per impression advertising with smart cookies to augment a PPC campaign can be really effective.

Pay per acquisition advertising is yet another form of paid advertising which can be used on some search engine marketing campaigns. This involves agreeing to pay a fixed amount or percentage when you acquire a new customer or sell an item. Like pay per impression, this isnt as common as pay per click due to the high level of risk for the platform owner.

Search Engine Optimization

There are two types of search engine optimization " on-site and off-site SEO.

On-site SEO involves ensuring that search engines can determine what your site is about, what to rank it for and to make your site much easier for search engine spiders to crawl.

Off-site SEO on the other hand focuses on driving relevant, authoritative links from other sites back to the site that you want to rank highly in search engines.

Hopefully this brief overview of how search engine marketing, search engine advertising and search engine optimization relate to one another will help you structure your online marketing campaigns more effectively in the future.

David Bain

David Bain is author of the 26-Week Digital Marketing Plan as well as editor and founder of Digital Marketing Monthly iPad magazine. Check out David’s free 4 Phases of Digital Marketing seminar on YouTube.


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2 Responses to “What’s the relationship between SEM, PPC, and SEO?”

  1. […] optimisation is not as complicated as most people make it out to be, but it's a vital part of search engine marketing. As long as you can concentrate on the most significant things and not employ blackhat or illegal […]

  2. […] optimization isn't as complex as the majority make it out to be, but it is a crucial part of search engine marketing. So long as you can focus on the most important things and not utilize blackhat or illegal […]

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