by Michael Fleischner

Sometimes there is a great deal of confusion between search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Although these online marketing techniques are quite different from one another, they share a number of similarities.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing are similar in many ways. Each online marketing discipline requires a strong understanding of purpose and functionality. The practice of SEO requires a basic knowledge of search engines and how they work at their core. Search engine marketing requires an understanding of online marketing and advertising.

From the outside, both internet marketing methods appear to be very complex. The truth however, is that SEO and SEM are simple to understand. Implementation of best practices is what makes success such a challenge. Search engine optimization is essentially the techniques you use to rank well on major search engines is a direct result of your understanding and application of proven techniques in the area of SEO.

Search engine marketing is based on an understanding of online ad campaigns that are implemented on advertising networks. The largest online ad network is Google followed by Yahoo! and MSN. These ad networks basically work the same way. You open an ad account, place an online ad, and when users search for terms related to your ad, the advertisement displays. When someone clicks on your ad, you pay a fee.

Search engine optimization is unique and different from search engine marketing because the organic result which appears in search engines is driven from your optimization techniques. These techniques are broken down into on page optimization and off page optimization. On page optimization is closely tied to web site design and off page is more associated with in bound links to your website.

The result is that SEO drives organic traffic. That is to say that after users complete searches on major search engines like Google, the resulting list is based on search engines returning the best result determined by their unique algorithm. When users click on these results you do not pay. Organic search is usually referred to as free traffic.

SEM is different than search engine optimization for one fundamental reason. With SEM, you pay when someone takes an action. Unlike traditional advertising you do not pay for your advertisement to appear, only when someone clicks on your ad. Your cost varies based on how competitive your keywords are and where you want your ad to display.

Online marketing is based on a good understanding of SEO and SEM best practices. These internet marketing subject areas are common among today’s marketing professionals but rarely do you find the level of expertise needed for success. Learn more about these subject ares with some research and be sure to subscribe to an SEO newsletter or blog. As you gain more knowledge implement new techniques and improve your rankings.

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