By Richard V. Burckhardt
Being the Danny Sullivan fan boy that I am, it’s rare that I find myself in disagreement with him, but that’s where I find myself after reading his Search Engine Land post Does SEM = SEO + CPC Still Add Up? where he opines that SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is an umbrella for all forms of search marketing, paid and organic.
In the article, Danny gives quite a bit of history supporting his idea that all forms of search related marketing should be lumped under SEM. It’s a great read.
Nonetheless, I have always been in the camp that feels that SEM refers to paid search marketing. My reasoning is very simple. With search engine optimization you have SEO. That’s it. With paid search you have all kinds of variations – PPC, CPA, CPC, banner ads, etc. If anything needs to have an umbrella, it’s paid search.
And, what about other forms of web related marketing (example: e-mail marketing) that aren’t necessarily search related. They don’t fit under a “search” umbrella.
Personally, I feel it makes more sense for the umbrella for all web marketing to be something as simple as, well, “web marketing.” That allows better segmentation of organic (SEO), paid (SEM), social media optimization (SMO), e-mail marketing and affiliate marketing while keeping them all under a “web marketing” category.
That said, the fact that Danny has “found it annoying that over the years, more and more people use SEM to mean paid search, as if SEM excludes SEO” points out the fact that if we in the industry don’t have a standardized definition of what SEM is (and SEO, SMO, etc. for that matter), then how are companies trying to hire us going to be anything but clueless as well? Continue reading