Search Engine Marketing: What is it and What Are Its Ties to Social Media?

The following is a guest post from Nick Dimitriou, Growth Marketer at Moosend, an email marketing software automation company.

Not too long ago, the only thing a business needed, to promote a product or a service was happy customers, word-of-mouth advertisement and perhaps some flyers informing consumers of a fantastic opportunity or a grand opening.

Nowadays, promoting a business is a process that is much more complex, but also much much more rewarding especially if you have a concrete marketing plan in place.

You’ve probably seen the terms SEO, PPC, SEM (search engine marketing) or SMO in various articles, especially if you’re looking for ways to promote your website online.

Now, though these acronyms may seem more than a little intimidating, it’s all about strategic thinking and use of the endless possibilities of SEM (Search Engine Marketing, that is) and SMM (Social Media Marketing, not to be confused with the former).

But let’s start at the beginning…

What is a Search Engine?

A search engine is mainly a tool that will help the user search for items in a database through keywords.

Now, search engines have been around for a long time, longer than the World Wide Web itself. The first one to come into existence, Archie (short for Archives), would look around the Internet for files, thus managing a huge “library.”

Of course, it took hours to deliver results, and people grew out of this “tool,” eventually.

These parameters lead to websites being built  in a way that search engines would give them high-quality rankings-and help them, as a result, end up on that specific search engine’s first or second page.

This practice would make the brand known to more users, as more people would go ahead and discover the webpage.

It didn’t take too long for marketers and people in the industry to understand that this practice was a goldmine for businesses.

And This is How Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Was Born!

Search Engine Marketing (or SEM) was created with the following notion in mind: the more exposure people have to a specific website, the more possibilities exist for them to click on the link.

This will create more traffic, etc.

It is not that simple, though.

There are many aspects to SEM, and you should take them all into account if you want your website to rank higher on Google.


SEO-or Search Engine Optimization-and SEA-or Search Engine Advertising-are the two main subcategories of SEM.

SEO’s main concern is the organic traffic, aka how many people decided to click on the link to your website, not by any kind of paid advertisement (more on that later), but by actually checking it on Google.

This, ultimately, means that this website will need to be on point for Google to give it a special feature. Keywords that have to do with the website should be pretty much everywhere (avoid keyword stuffing though), great content, fast-loading site and copy with which your target-audience can relate.

You will also need backlinks of high quality. The more websites with authority and fine quality link back to your website, the better.

Google views this as some sort of “vote of confidence”: if you’re good enough for first-page websites to mention you, then you’ll probably be good enough for Google to rank you higher.

SEA, on the other hand, includes anything non-organic. That would be Pay Per Click (PPC) ads, Pay Per Impression (PPI) ads and Pay Per Action (PPA) ads.

Did you notice the repetition of the word “ads”? We’re talking about paid ads, which don’t constitute organic traffic, seeing as businesses pay a hefty sum of money for these.

And Which One of Those Works Best?

Frankly, this is a non-issue. SEM includes both SEO and SEA. SEM builds awareness by driving organic traffic through SEO, while it only takes twenty-four hours to see quick results through SEA.

If you’re in it for the long game, if you need organic results, more clicks and numbers that will be sustainable long-term, then SEO is for you.

If you opt-in for the long-game you might want to take a look at the following tools to help you with SEO monitoring: Ahrefs, Nightwatch, Moz and Alexa.

SEA can complement that by targeting your main audience with more precision, as well as advanced tracking methods.

Now, let’s talk a bit about social media, shall we?

The Power of Social Media

Every single business, organization, product-not to mention person-has a social media profile.

Which is extremely helpful, seeing as now, we can have information on quality, quantity, working hours, pretty much anything and we can have it first hand.

When we discover something new, the first place we search for, if we need more information, ratings or even to engage with other people who have used the product or service in question, we look for its Facebook or Instagram profile.

Emphasis on “look for.”


On Search Engines and Optimization

Google is not the only search engine there is. Despite it being the most widely used, there is something that most people tend to overlook: search bars in social media are search engines as well.

What does that mean, in practice?

Well, it means that we will need to use SMO, meaning Social Media Optimization, to get maximum results.

By enhancing their online presence and interact with their audience, businesses can build familiarity with the market.

This familiarity could lead a brand, a business or a cause go viral.

Viral means social shares.

And social shares mean a higher Google ranking.

Taking into account that Google loves quality content and anything viral, it’s safe to say that the louder the buzz, the better.

Boost Your Website’s Ranking with SEM, SEO, and Social Media

The above information are only a fragment of what SEM (search engine marketing) really is and how SEO, combined with a great social media strategy can change the way your website ranks on Google (When it comes to social media, I’d recommend starting with Instagram Marketing rather than Facebook, as it’s the most addictive app to date!).

So, now that you can understand the basic concept of SEM and how this is linked to social media, maybe it’s time you started crafting that marketing plan you’ll need, to see that hockey stick graph in your KPIs.

Do some extra reading and please don’t forget to leave a comment below with your tips, tricks, and questions.

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About the Author Nick Dimitriou

Nick Dimitriou Profile Pic-MoosendNick is a Growth Marketer working for email marketing software Moosend. When he is not writing articles, you’ll find him running his SEO magic site-wide, or making friends from blogs and companies discussing the expert power of Email Marketing.


  1. You said it right that SEO combined with great social media strategy can change the way your website ranks on Google. SEO is a great way to bring organic traffic to your website and if done right it can boost your website rank as well.
    Thank you for sharing this informative post.

  2. What should we do about the constant changes to Google Algorithm which constantly affect our rankings? Is not SEM and SEO a waste of time due to these updates?

  3. Very Elaborative Article on SEM,and first time i have seen a term by name “SEA”.Thanks for the worthy share Nick

  4. Dan, thanks for your comment!

    I read a stat that Google makes more than 400 updates to its search algorithms each year. However, there are things you can do to reach your audience and rank high in search engines. For instance, update your website and content regularly and make sure that your website is mobile responsive.

    Another thing to do is to focus on user experience. Google’s RankBrain algorithm ensures that search results are more relevant and user-centric. User experience is becoming an important factor for ranking.

    Also, don’t ignore voice search. Everyone these days has their phone with them and some have devices like Alexa and Google Assistant. As the latter grows in popularity, more people will be searching through voice.

    Most in the industry are shifting their focus to ROI (return on investment) vs. search rankings or clicks. A high ROI is a good thing. If you lose a few clicks here and there, so be it. Continue to build influence and authority so that your customers, clients, or readers know that your website/business is a reliable source for information, product, or service.

    Lastly, one thing in business that won’t change is the bottom line aka revenue. If clicks and open rates are high, but sales are low, something is wrong.

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