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Web Page Marketing: Getting Familiar with SEO and SEM Basics

Are you confused about SEO and SEM? There’s a lot to learn and even the terminology can be confusing. Here, we present the basics in terminology and process to help get you started. Often people will find your website by doing a search on a search engine – such as Google or Firefox.

No doubt you’ve done searches yourself by typing a word or words onto the search page and then looking at all those thousands of results. Because there are so many web pages on the Internet the goal is to get your site positioned toward the top of the search results list. So, how do you do this? With SEO and SEM.

SEO Defined

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization – basically the process of improving your website so it’s “friendly” to search engines like Google and Firefox. Ways to improve your SEO includes the flow of your website, your keywords, and content, meta-tags,1 as well as a host of other tactics.

SEM Defined

Search engine marketing – SEM – is a way of marketing your website through “paid placement” tools such as Pay-per-click (PPC – you pay when someone clicks on your ad) and

“contextual advertising”2 (the search engine shows advertisements that are related to the keywords used in the search).3

1. SEO and SEM Begin with Keywords

The idea is to utilize specific words and phrases that your potential customers would use to find your business or product. Treat each of your website pages as individuals, when it comes to keywords and phrases. Once you’ve selected a few relevant phrases, then you should develop your well-written content around those.1 Here’s a google keyword tool you can use to find keyword ideas.

2. SEO – Html Meta Tags

Html Meta tags include the title tag, description and keywords tags. Your title tag should include one or two of your most relevant keywords or phrases. Your keywords meta tag should list the words or phrases that “best describe the contents of the page. The description meta tag includes a brief one- or two-sentence description of the page.”1

3. Pay Per Click Basics

Once you’ve developed your keywords into content and put in your meta tags, you can begin with an SEM pay per click account, if it’s in your budget to do so. SEM accounts are organized into three tiers: account, campaign, and ad group. Each campaign has its own budget and each ad group contains a set of ads that relate to your chosen keywords.

4. SEM and Your Landing Pages

When you write each PPC ad you will want to send the customer who clicks on it to the landing page with the information or product mentioned. Choose the page of your website that is most relevant to the product or service described in this ad. Your ad content should always reflect the landing page and should be relevant to your keywords.

5. Targeted Ad Copy

Write your ads to describe the product or service you’re advertising.  Ensure your ad headlines relate to the keywords being searched. For instance, if you’re working with the phrase 4×6 postcards, and other related terms, you will create a postcard campaign, write ads about 4×6 postcards, and decide how much money you can put into that campaign. In general, the more specific (tighter) your ad groups are, the more success you will have. Making them tighter means you want as few keywords as possible in each ad group so everything can be highly targeted. Try and have no more than 10 keywords per ad group. Over time you will see that some ads give you better results. Pause the poor performing ads and shift more of your budget to the better performing ones.

Final Remarks

SEO and SEM are closely interrelated. When you use both, and are consistent with keywords across all your marketing methods, you will get better results which includes higher conversion rates. SEO and SEM can seem daunting when you’re starting out but there is a lot of great information available to help.

Link: Quick SEO/SEM Glossary5,6


  1. Search engine marketing, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. Wikipedia: Contextual advertising
  3. Definitions
  4. Pay Per Click Universe: Glossary

Co-wrote with Chloe Nguyen

7 thoughts on “Web Page Marketing: Getting Familiar with SEO and SEM Basics

  1. Nice article. I would add that it is important to create custom meta tags, titles, and content (of course) for each separate web page.

    Also, when creating a PPC campaign, carefully consider the region you plan to advertise in; You may not want to advertise across the entire U.S. if you are offering a local product or service.

  2. Is it true that Google no longer pays attention to Meta Tags? I am trying to get on page one with specific keywords on google. I own a window cleaning business.

  3. Karen,
    Nice post, but thought that I would mention that “Firefox” is a browser and not a search engine. It does use google as its search engine.


  4. Jason, Good points. We wanted to keep this article very much for beginners so had to leave out a lot so it’s not confusing. However, keeping PPC campaigns local if that’s your target audience is important, for sure.

    Brian, there is a lot of information out there about meta tags – one thing appears “clear” that they are less important than they used to be. It seems you need to have them but don’t put much weight on them.

    Chuck, my mistake though apparently there is a lot of confusion out there about this. Joy, clearly, it’s not clear. lol. So, to clafify:

    “According to Wikipedia, “a web browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting, and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web.” But search engines are the applications that help you find web pages and they’re so important that they became synonymous with web browsers. It’s an involuntary synecdoche, a figure of speech in which a part of an object is used to refer to the entire object.”

  5. I would really prefer to look at more graphics in this website for the reason that even though the written content is great We could really use some visual aspects.

  6. I am sure this paragraph has touched all the internet users, its really
    redally nice piece of writing on building up new webpage.

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