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What’s the Difference Between SEO, SEM, and SMM?

shutterstock_203294722When it comes to the Internet, there are so many different abbreviations your head might spin just trying to identify each. When building your website and Internet presence, there are a few more important than others. Namely, the most important abbreviations you need to understand are SEO, SEM and SMM. What do these abbreviations mean and what is the difference between each? That is something you need to discover so you not only can communicate services with outside companies but also understand what other online posts are in reference to.


This is the hot, key abbreviation floating around the Internet. Short for Search Engine Optimization, SEO is the act of building your website for a better search engine ranking. Google receives more search traffic than all other search engines combined, so you more or less are at the disposal of Google. Due to this, you need to make your website as attractive to Google as possible. There are literally dozens of different aspects you can improve upon to boost your search engine ranking. It has become such an important aspect to websites and bringing in customers that full careers and an entire industry has developed around it. Additionally, SEO is an ever change design requirement. What Google and other search engines require from your site now might not be the same a year from now. This is why staying on top of your website design and continually adjusting it to best fit SEO requirements is very important.


Slightly different from SEO, SEM is short for Search Engine Marketing. This is in regards to the placement of target advertisements on search engines. In SEM, you create an advertisement for a search engine. Traditionally, this is a large, bold, attractive title to generate attention with a short, small sentence blurb underneath. Some modern search engine ads may feature pictures and others video, depending on the kind of ad you are creating. Now, a search engine marketing campaign is often necessary if your SEO is not at the top of the list. SEM ads are generally paced at the top of a search result page. While it clearly indicates it is an advertisement, if your website ranks on the third or fourth page of search results, paying to have a similar ad link placed on the first page can prove profitable. To do this, the ads are created by using keywords, so it does have some connection to SEO (in which keywords play a very important role). SEM is also closely connected to PPC, or Pay Per Click advertising. This is when you pay money every time someone clicks on your SEM ad.


SMM is, more or less, the same as SEM only it takes place on social media. Short for Social Media Marketing, it runs in more or less the same way as search engine marketing. However, you can fine tune your marketing demographic thanks to the additional personal information social media provides you regarding users and potential visitors.