SEO vs. SMO vs. SEM

SEO, SEM and SMO defined and why as a small business owner you should care?  

Ok, so we thought we would tackle something that we know is really important to our small business entrepreneur clients! That is these wacky acronyms phrases like SEO, SEM and SMO and what’s the difference?  So let’s start out with a quick rundown on each one:

  1. SEO means search engine optimization
  2. SEM means search engine marketing
  3. SMO means social media optimization

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Getting real basic with you up front… Search Engines are where you go to search on the web. The most popular search engine is the Google 🙂 and some others are Yahoo and Bing. So next is the word optimization. What that word means is that marketing folks and writers that make content for online need to write it in a way that is optimized in popular words and phrases that you want to be found for in a search engine.

SEO also is optimizing website development (the code), the navigation structure, and its content for search engines to easily read your website and know what you should rank for. It is what we like to describe as an ongoing strategy, a plan to write and post content on your website and social media so that your website will be listed on search engines on a regularly basis.

The purpose to practice on going, proper search engine optimization (SEO) is so your website placement is listed when you search online (also known as your ranking) for a topic you would like to be found for. This is ongoing because you want it to improve and to continue to be found by search engines, moving higher up in the list of websites shown.

Quick Takeaways:

  • A search engine is like Google, Yahoo, or Bing
  • Optimization is writing your content with popular words and phrases that you want to be found for on search engines.
  • Ranking is the list found when you search online for an item. Everyone works hard to rank in the #1 spot, which is hard to do and takes lots of work that we do each day! 🙂


Goals of successful SEO ranking:

The goal of successful SEO is to obtain a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). Internet users often do not click through pages and pages of search results, so where a site ranks in a search results page is essential for directing more traffic toward the site. The higher a website naturally ranks in organic results of a search, the greater the chance that the site will be visited by a user.

SEO is typically a set of best practices for your website content. It’s similar to formatting a term paper you had to write in school. If you do these best practices for SEO then your website will begin to show better ranking in search engine results for those topics you focus on.


Recommended best SEO practices:

  • Write relevant content for each page of your website that’s creative and interesting about your service and brand.
  • Use keyword phrases, keywords, and helpful plugins to analyze them.
  • Use link building: Link to each page of your site from one page to the next, linking to other internal pages & blog posts.
  • Use social media links on your website and post page links on your social media platforms regularly.


What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

SEM is the umbrella term marketers like us use to label all of the different options available on the web that uses search engine’s technology, including things like paid ads. SEM is the part of researching, posting content, scheduling campaigns, and evaluating the position of your website within search engines. SEM is also where marketers set budgets and you pay based on clicks. That means you pay only for each click from the advertisement to your website. Within your website you can set up landing pages just for your ad to track those click throughs even more in depth. The purpose of SEM is to place ads in a “campaign” that will be shown to those targeted customers specifically looking for your products or services in search engines.


Quick Takeaways:

  • SEM is the part of researching, posting content, scheduling campaigns, and evaluating the position of your website within search engines.
  • Pay per clicks means you pay only for each click from the advertisement to your website.
  • Landing pages are where pay for click “land” ha! Get it? They are a good idea to set up within your website for your ad to track those click throughs.

Goals of successful SEM:

So the goals are for search engine optimization, paid listings, and other researched search engine related tools to increase rankings, exposure, and the ever needed traffic to your small business website.

Search engine marketing is a way for a business to market their small business online with tools like paid listings such as Google Adwords and other search engine related paid services. While the two phrases seem similar, SEO and SEM are different services, and SEM is just as important as SEO.

Many people start with a good website and invest in SEO, but don’t necessarily follow through with another very important component; and that is search engine marketing.


Recommended best SEM practices:

  • Using keywords and keyword analysis.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Building ads and content for local listings and geo-targeted ads.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns.


What is Social Media Optimization (SMO)?

Social Media Optimization (SMO) itself is simply the process of increasing the awareness of a product, brand, or event by using social media outlets to create publicity.

How does this relate to SEO you ask?

SEO relates to SMO because optimizing the website code, navigation structure, and its content to encourage more users to read and share links to the websites across social media and networking sites is crucial to the success of SMO.  SMO also includes using tools that help marketing experts like us here at Thrive who undertake this process for our clients each day.

Using software and an optimized website to push out to a number of platforms as outlets is really the bones of SMO. Pushing out this content to communities generates awareness of a service, product, brand, or events. Types of social media platforms for optimization for example are social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, video sharing websites, and blogging sites. SMO is like search engine optimization, having same goal to generate website traffic and increase awareness for your business.


Quick Takeaways:

  • SEO is needed to be successful with SMO.
  • Creating awareness and publicity for your brand and business can accomplished through SMO.
  • The goal for SMO is to generate traffic for your website and awareness for your brand, just like SE).

Goals of successful SMO:

The goal of SMO is to strategically create interesting online content, ranging from well-written text to eye-catching digital photos, and graphics or video clips that entices people to engage with a website and share it with their social media contacts and friends. Common examples of social media engagement are commenting on posts, retweeting, sharing, and promoting content. Social media optimization is also an effective way of implementing online reputation management (ORM), meaning that if someone posts bad reviews of a business, a SMO strategy can ensure that the negative feedback is not the first link to come up in a list of search engine results.

Recommended best SMO practices for your small business:

  • Integrate social sharing tools on your website.
  • Keep all social platforms consistent with same look, brand, design, and information
  • Use consistent keyword phrases on all platforms as well as your website.
  • Be social on social. Post, engage, and share often.
  • Keep it professional. Don’t let the office intern manage your entire online reputation and risk typos and errors.

Why does your small business need all three of these marketing optimization acronyms?

With social media sites overtaking TV as a source for news for many people, news organizations have become increasingly reliant on social media platforms for generating web traffic. In order to improve your website rankings and your overall traffic as the industry leader for your product and service, an optimized website and social presence is a must. Not having these properly built and active is like leaving money on the table. SMO should be a focus for your small business. It is important to be engaging with relevant social audiences, contributing to conversations, and posting your own shares of authoritative content for your industry.

Secondly, Google quietly launched a major overhaul of their search algorithm. This update was named Hummingbird because of its speed and precision, the new algorithm changes the way Google interprets search terms and changes the weight of some factors that drive search rankings.

Social shares are more important in calculating rankings now, and they’re apt to contribute even more in the near future. The Hummingbird algorithm values quality content that is relevant, authoritative, and shareable. So the more your content has been shared across social media, the higher its perceived quality—and the better you’ll rank on Google. So get to sharing that stuff! 🙂

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Need a hand with your online presence? Give us a call at Thrive Creative Group right here in Clarksville, TN! If phone calls aren’t convenient, you can also contact us online. We would love to tell you more about all of the other services we offer. We’re ready to help your small business thrive!