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SEO vs. SEM vs. MEO

These days, almost everyone knows that SEO is important (if done right), and many businesses have jumped on the SEM wagon (just look at all of those sponsored results!!) as part of their marketing strategy, but what is the difference, and why isn’t anyone talking about MEO yet? Partly because the Internet is still growing up and online marketing is becoming more and more mature as it goes with all technological systems.

Without further adieu, let’s get right down to these marketing acronyms and throw them into the match-up and see how they stack up: SEO vs. SEM vs. MEO.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO is typically defined as making sure that your website’s URLs, titles, page descriptions, and content all line up around a set of strategically chosen keywords. It involves checking every page and every title for a “sweet spot” of keyword density so that a search engine spider can identify the relevancy of a page to the desired keywords and phrases. Marketing firms will usually give weekly or monthly reports to their subscribers showing the changes in how a site’s pages are ranked on search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, AOL, DuckDuckGo, etc.). It’s a nice demonstration that SEO does something for your money being spent. You can do your own keyword research using Google’s Free Webmaster tools.

SEO strategies are growing increasingly complex and there are numerous blogs explaining the latest updates. At its essence though, SEO does very little to actually convert a visitor into a lead, or for that matter, a customer. SEO is about attracting traffic, and most of the keyword work only has to be done once or at most twice per page/post.

Fair warning: if you are in the habit of paying a company to do “SEO” for your site, you’re more than likely paying for an overpriced monthly report because the bulk of the work is done up-front and is not ongoing. It pays to check to see if your monthly budget is truly giving you the value you want.

SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

SEM is also known as PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigning, and involves buying top- or side-of-the-page result placement for a specific keyword. It’s immediately effective, but is non-organic search traffic. Once you stop paying for the top spots, your pages go back to where they were in the rankings. This is a strategy that can be effective if you’re not getting the rankings you want from SEO efforts. Much like SEO, SEM is about generating traffic. SEO is organic, SEM is not, and is essentially the equivalent of buying the winning race horse rather than raising and training it from a colt. SEM campaigns can be expensive, and the trouble is that if all you do is SEM, it will only last while you pay and your traffic may not be as targeted as it could be.

MEO (Marketing Engine Optimization™)

MEO is a relatively new term that includes SEO and may include SEM if it makes sense, but it goes far beyond the two to include branding, messaging, conversion and delighting customers. We have found that without an optimized marketing engine, tons of traffic on a site doesn’t necessarily mean a higher conversion rate. A marketing strategy has to include all of the parts of the buyer’s journey, from being a complete stranger, through awareness, to conversion and being delighted, and hopefully becoming a brand evangelist! When you focus too much on just SEO, you miss the opportunity to convert a higher percentage of visitors. For instance, rather than trying to double your traffic, what if you could tune your marketing engine to convert twice as many visitors to leads?

What if you could quadruple your conversion rates? Here are some tips:

  • Cast a keen marketing eye on your page designs – Do they deliver the right message at first glance? Is there a clear Call to action drawing the user’s attention?
  • Do a thorough evaluation of your content – is it giving your customers the answers they are looking for? Are you delivering a value to them for their time on your pages?
  • Tuning your marketing engine requires evaluation of your communications – are your e-mails helpful or pushy? Are you engaging the customer with unexpected value propositions?
  • Check your traffic patterns – Are you analyzing your analytics? If you don’t already have Google Analytics (or something similar), get it in place NOW! (It’s free and only takes a few minutes to set up). Check to see where your visitors are exiting your site from, or which pages have the highest bounce rates and adjust them!
  • When was the last time you wrote a blog article? Every page and every post is an opportunity to deliver keyword-rich content that will be indexed in the search engines and raise your credibility in your categories of expertise.
  • There are hundreds of ways to improve your marketing engine. Do not be distracted by the allure of higher traffic for higher traffic’s sake. Make sure it has a point of getting you ROI, which usually means clients, not just hits.

Make sure that your branding and messaging are as effective as they can be to convert your traffic into leads, and your leads into happy customers. Ask yourself whether you are serving your audience, or are you serving yourself.

Remember that Google and the other search engines are trying to deliver the best results to their customers (a portion of which are your customers), so optimizing your site for your customers ultimately means you are optimizing your site for the search engines.

Your website site can be your most effective salesman, but like any salesman, it needs the right marketing collateral to give to your potential customers. Remember that an effective site needs to be Marketing Engine Optimized™, which will include SEO. It may benefit from SEM while the organic traffic builds, but remember that with millions of hits and zero conversions, you might as well have zero traffic as well. Work on the whole picture or hire someone who can give you more than just SEO or SEM. Ask whether they’ve heard of MEO.

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