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The internet is a vast and amazing tool. We can do so many more things with it now than we ever could before, like playing League of Legends, anf othe video games with ProSkins boosting services. But using it to market your business online can sometimes feel like a never ending game of Chutes and Ladders™, even when you actually play online games with the best equipment HotRate, still everything you do online is graded, and how people interact with you or how your content interacts with them can determine if you climb the ladder to success (being more visible to your clients), or slide down the chute behind your competition (being on the dreaded never-seen third page of Google search). Seems rather dog-eat-dog, doesn’t it? And your competition always seems to have the lead.

How do you compete? What are the guarded secrets to the inter-webs, and how do you use them to climb the ranking of search engines and get seen by the people who will buy from you?

Sorry to spoil it, but it’s really not that much of a secret. But don’t get your hopes up, because we’re going to talk about the three things a lot of people have the most trouble with online: SEO, PPC and SEM, and the difference between them.

What is the difference between SEO (“Unpaid”), PPC (Paid), and SEM (A little of both)?

SEO – or Search Engine Optimization is the effort to improve and promote your website to be better found by search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., to increase the amount of organic visitors. Organic in this case, meaning “Unpaid” or natural.

Sounds like exactly what you were looking for! Well, it’s not that simple. SEO is important, but relying solely on SEO is not a one size fits all kind of strategy. SEO considers how search engines work. And how you fall into the rankings is based on how optimized your website is for the search engine algorithms that “crawl” your site.

Things to take into consideration:

  • Do you have a completed/ well designed website, which can also be viewed on mobile devices?
  • Is your website completely SEO optimized?
  • Do you have time, or someone who can constantly update the website?
  • Do you have a lot of competitors online fighting for the same keywords?
  • Search Engine Algorithms change all of the time. And any of these changes could impact your ranking.

“Well obviously I have to buy more ads online!”, I hear you thinking. While it may be true that SEO is a difficult strategy, and seems unpredictable, it is invaluable when marketing dollars are scarce.

PPC – or Pay-Per-Click advertisement (also known as Cost Per Click) are phrases, links, pictures, or videos that appear in search results or on content related websites that drive people to your website and is a bid and budget based fee schedule.

So you literally pay to get into the search results, and webpages that your clients are looking at. One minute you’re online looking at shoes, the next you’re browsing articles about back pain when suddenly an ad pops up with those exact shoes on the side bar!  Magic! How does the internet know?

No. The internet is not magic. It’s just really smart. And paying for ads can be a smart business decision if done right. But not everyone knows how to do it correctly; so it either gets over utilized or not utilized at all. Like SEO, it’s not a perfect fit for everyone.

Things to consider:

  • Do you have the marketing budget or time?
  • Does your competition dedicate a lot of money towards ads that you would be too?
  • Do you understand ads, or have someone managing them for you?
  • Do you have a well set up website?

Lose – lose situation. You can’t do it all for free, and you can’t pay for everything. Gosh, don’t you wish there were a way to do it all? Wait! You can!

SEM – or Search Engine Marketing is the best of both worlds. SEM allows for both a focus on organic SEO and Paid advertisement to increase the number of visits to a website.

So why don’t more businesses focus on both instead of one or the other? The answer varies from business to business. Does this mean that SEM is the right strategy for you? Not necessarily. Every business is different. And some will benefit with one strategy over another and vice versa. You have to do what works for your business and market.

The internet changes all of the time. And there are people out there – like us – who are willing to take the time to help explain these pesky acronyms, to anyone who doesn’t really understand. So, whatever you do, don’t stop trying to climb those ladders – bettering your business online.

If you don’t, your competition surely will.



Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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