SEO – search engine optimization
SEM – search engine marketing
SMM – social media marketing
Social Marketing – PAID social marketing – paying for reach on Facebook and other networks.
SEO is dead primarily because the Google algorithm has changed to value currency and relevancy over keyword density and keyword metatags. Sure, there are still a lot of companies making money doing SEO, but you can pretty much do it yourself, or your marketing team can do it, with a bit of information. Services like Wordstream, Hubspot, and SpyFu, give all of us hacks the ability to do a descent job of SEO without hiring an expensive firm to do it. And really, the mechanics of SEO are quite simple. If you're using WordPress for your platform, just make sure you've got a good all-in-one SEO plug-in and then pay attention.
The biggest part of SEO is understanding what topics you might have some authority in. Making sure you're hitting the right topics with the right frequency. Keeping your content fresh. And publishing new content on your coveted topics on a regular basis. There you go, I've just saved you a lot of money by telling you how to optimize your web publishing for Google and other search engines.
SEM is a slightly different beast. SEM (not paid social marketing) is about creating great content (See SEO tips above) and then selecting the right social platform for distribution. The problem with SEM today is Facebook has all but shut down organic reach. A common percentage of reach these days is between 1% – 3%. That's bullshit, but that's the way it works on Facebook, LinkedIn, and it starting to get worse on Twitter too.
Today most SOCIAL influence is paid for. It's not that the work you do with SEM doesn't pay off at some point, it's just not going to bring in the expected results without some ad dollars to get your reach into a range where you will see noticeable results.
Do you need an SEO firm? No. Do you need an AdWords or Google Advertising specialist firm managing your account. No. (Unless you are managing thousands of terms and make microchanges on a daily basis. And even then, you just need a good AdWords tool, not a consultant.)
Do you need to keep putting time and effort into SEM? Yes. Yes, but you need to add money to the equation to see the benefits.
Let's do social smarter and let's put the SEO money towards some good Facebook boosts of posts that are already getting some results in the free zone.
Reference: eMarketer Search Engine Roundup
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