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IDK about you, but IMHO we use TMA.

Did you get that?

FYI, my acronym-filled opener translates to, “I don’t know about you, but in my humble opinion we use too many acronyms.”

Acronyms are so mainstream in today’s world that they’re being added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Earlier this month, YOLO (You Only Live Once) became an official word. Which, side note, was first documented all the way back in 1996, way before Drake made it popular in his 2011 song The Motto (which is NSFW BTW, Not Safe For Work By The Way). Who knew? Anyway…

While a lot of acronyms are social-focused, most industries have their own jargon, online marketing included. GA, UX, CTA, B2B, B2C- we all know what these common acronyms stand for, but even more importantly what they mean. However, there are two important acronyms that I hear folks confuse more than any others in terms of true meaning- SEM and SEO.

I completely get why they’re easily confused. They look and sound so similar. The one letter difference. The alliteration. It seems like they could be opposite sides of the same coin, when in fact that’s not completely correct. To set the record straight, let’s define SEM and SEO, as well as other related acronyms.

SEM, Search Engine Marketing, is really a top level, all-encompassing term for being found on search engines. This includes both paid and organic strategies. SEM is NOT only paid search, as I’ve heard it described before, it simply INCLUDES paid search.

SEO, Search Engine Optimization, encompasses the tactics you use to increase your organic rank on search engines. It’s a facet of SEM. The better your SEO, the higher you rank naturally on SERPs and the greater chance a user sees and clicks through to your page.

SERPS, Search Engine Results Pages, are the pages that display following a search on Google/Bing/Yahoo/etc. SERPs do not refer to ONLY organic results, as I’ve heard them described before, but they also include paid search ads from PPC advertising.

PPC advertising, or Pay Per Click (also known as paid search), shows paid results for a search query at the top of SERPs. It’s another facet of SEM. You may also hear this called CPC advertising, Cost Per Click.

Knowledge and puppies in costumes, FTW (For The Win)!

Melissa Slack

Author Melissa Slack

Melissa is a Digital Content Specialist at InQuest Marketing. She creates and manages social media content for a variety of clients, and she also has experience in SEO, SEM and public relations. Her favorite things about InQuest are the people. Melissa loves her rescue dog and tackling home renovation projects, and she could eat tacos everyday.

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