Difference Between SEO, Digital Marketing & SEM

We shall discuss about what is the difference between SEO, SEM and Digital Marketing in this guide. Almost everyone would have come across the terms digital marketing, online advertisement, social media marketing, search engine optimization etc. But most of them don’t know the difference between these terms.

Some people often confuse these terms and many of them even use them interchangeably. Few people think that SEO and digital marketing are same and many others think that social media marketing and digital marketing are same. This tutorial aims on bringing in clarity for these people and also being in light to the fact of where the social media marketing or search engine optimization has to be done.

SEO vs SMM vs Digital Marketing

What is Digital Marketing?

It is such a vast topic. All digital content over the internet, be it a website, or a piece of write up, or video, or audio, or be it anything; any such content that is being promoted online by any means or method, collectively known as digital marketing. The ultimate aim of it is to market it digital and bringing in more intended viewers and there by achieving the goal the owner of such a website, or post or video or audio or anything that is being marketed. It may be website marketing, YouTube video marketing, a post in social media marketing or anything.

There are lot of methods involved in digital marketing. The types of digital marketing are social media campaigns, social media marketing, online advertisement, search engine optimization etc.

Now, as you have understood, digital marketing is so wide a term used very generally, which involves search optimization and the like.

Search Engine Optimization

We have discussed and studied about search engine optimization in another article. Please refer What is SEO.

To list a website or page in website in the top list and first pages in the search engines is known as search engine optimization, as we have seen. Increase in traffic and thereby increase in business is what is being aimed with SEO. It is just one of the techniques that come under digital marketing.

Search Engine Marketing

Showing advertisements, SEO and all other techniques used for getting more traffic from search engines. It is shortly known as SEM.

Social Media Marketing

We know what social media is. We all know today’s real media is social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, through which any content reaches people within no time and attracts the attention of people very easily. Being these social media very popular, these are being used very widely. The word “Viral” is used very generally in these Medias, which means very popular. By making the content viral in social media, the owner attains the desired goal, is what we intend with social media marketing.

Social Media Campaigns

Advertisements in social media are what we mean by social media campaigns. We shall advertise in all Social Medias such as LinkedIn, Facebook etc for a post or blog or website according to our budget. We can aim at our intended audience, who uses the social media, through advertisements and there by reaching the goal. Social medial campaigns are thus on the basis of advertisements in social media.

The above discussed are the few techniques used in digital media marketing. By reading this tutorial, any common man can understand what digital marketing is and how wide the term is. The confusions and interchangeable use of digital marketing with social media marketing shall be clogged hence with.

How and where Digital Marketing used?

These days, in order to get attention to our business, or to seek public attention it is very mandatory that we do the marketing or optimisation. We shall get connected with the digital marketing techniques with the real time scenarios.

Let’s see the first scenario, where a customer has a product. He is planning for a discounted sale of that product for a month. The intended discount sale is for 20% on MRP. So the customer’s goal is to give maximum publicity to the discount sale and make maximum sale. In this case, search engine optimisation is not going to help us. There is no chance for any internet user to search about the discount sale unless and until they have any clue about this sale. Our requirement is to make the discount sale reach into those people have the desire for the product.  Hence the right technique required here is social media marketing and advertisement in social media. We can post advertisements in search engines like Google. Thus such advertisements shall be shown to all those people who search for this product or similar product or related products. The people may be searching for the availability of the product or the kind of things, and due to the related search, the 20 % discount will be shown to those who make the search there by increasing the reach of the advertisement and the increase the sale.

Now the second method is advertising in social media. Make good attractive posters on the discount sale and post on Facebook pages and circulate through WhatsApp. The maximum share in these media increases the reach of the advertisement. Facebook campaigns also shall help in increasing the reach.  The targeted audience can be designed in these Facebook campaigns. In this scenario, this is the best suitable technique in digital marketing.

Let us look in to the second scenario. A customer of ours, have started a resort in a place. This customer’s aim is to list their resort website to all those who search for a resort in that place. In this scenario the most suitable digital marketing technique is search engine optimisation and not Facebook campaigns nor advertisements.

Here what we need to do is identifying the keyword and optimize to get a good position in the search engines. The business owner will get a long term business as a result of this. This is the most practical method in this scenario as advertisements in social media are for a short period of time. Search engine optimisation gives business for a long term whereas advertisements are very expensive in the long run.

The practicality is to do SEO for business conversion and not running advertisement in social media. But this doesn’t mean that we do not need to run advertisements. While doing SEO, it is advisable to do social media marketing and campaigns, for better results and business conversion.  All these are according to the budget and requirement of clients. The basic necessity for business conversion is search engine optimisation.

Thus we now know when and where these tools of digital marketing are used. Ultimately, the choice of tool or technique is according to the requirement and budget of the client. The digital marketing expert decides the tool to be used after strictly monitoring and studying the requirements of the client. He may either choose one technique, or choose two of them together or else all of them together.

We came across many tools and techniques in digital marketing but SEO is the ever biggest technique in digital marketing. It is said to be the giant in these techniques both technically and knowledge. It doesn’t mean that the other techniques are small or doesn’t require technical knowledge. But it just means that it can be understood by any one and can do it. In social media advertisements, the poster designing and posting advertisements by selecting the targeted audience and choosing dates.

While comparing the other techniques with SEO, the knowledge and technicality required is very less. SEO seeks a very vast and wide knowledge and even programming or coding. There are many career builders who wish to build a career in SEO. They may get confused to see many courses on SEO and also on digital marketing. it is today’s trend that people choose digital marketing course as they make be familiar with that term rather than SEO.

While choosing to do a course on digital marketing, SEO will be dealt as a topic like every other technique. Emphasis on SEO will not be given in that case. More emphasis on SEO and its training has to be taken in order to be successful in this career. A SEO expert can easily become a digital marketing within no time as they can do campaigns and advertisement in the social media too easily than anyone. The more preparation and vast knowledge is required for SEO. Mere knowledge on advertisement creation and posting advertisement will not make a SEO expert.

So it is always advisable that a person, who chooses their career in this area, has t undergo a SEO training, in which digital marketing will be dealt as a part of it. Practical knowledge on SEO is never imparted in a digital marketing course. This was well understood when we took few interviews for digital marketing. A digital marketing course imparts the theory part alone where the students acquire a minimum knowledge only.

As the competition and number of websites are getting increased the career of digital marketing is also gaining importance day by day. Hence it is a suggestion that you if choosing to be a digital marketing expert, you need to focus to be a SEO expert. The career opportunities in digital marketing are increasing day by day with the wide use of online services.  Another attraction of this career is that, it is not just limited to a corporate company or entrepreneurship but a digital marketing expert can also be a freelancer by selecting this career.

So far we have discussed about what SEO is, and what digital marketing is, its tools or techniques and also digital marketing Vs. SEO. Last, not least, we shall look into a tip for those business owners who look forward for uplifting their business with the help of digital marketing. It is so obvious that a business owner shall be in the same confusion or dilemma as that of a person who wants to choose their career.

They come across many companies who claims to be digital marketing pioneers  and many others who says to be SEO experts, which puts the business owner in utter slip-ups. As said earlier a digital marketing company may not be a SEO expert. It is so unfortunate that these terms are being misinterpreted in the industry on a large scale.

Few companies claim to be doing digital marketing on the basis of doing social media marketing only. Thus it is better for a business owner to be double sure on choosing a company or freelancer for doing their digital marketing. How to do this is what we explain here. Clarify with the company you choose as to what all services they provide under the digital marketing services. They may add social media advertisement, marketing etc but what you will have to look mainly is on whether they include search engine optimization in this. If a company offers every service along with search engine optimization, then you can blindly choose them to do your work. A skilled staff in SEO shall be the ever best company to do digital marketing because search engine optimization is so challenging and promising in today’s and future days.

Our intention on writing this article was to give light on the fact that any common man understands what digital marketing is and what are its techniques and tools. We hope that we have done justice to it.

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Meet the author
Syam K.S. is a digital marketing professional and trainer in Kerala. With over 18 years of experience, he is one of the leading SEO experts in Kerala. Syam serves as the lead trainer for our Digital Marketing course and online SEO course.

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