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Search engine marketing is generally broken into two different types of marketing. On the one side is search engine optimization. On the other side is pay per click advertising, or paid search. The primary component of search engine marketing, of course, is the practice of increasing the visibility of a website in the search engines. That could technically include more than SEO and PPC.

Many industry insiders think of SEM as primarily paid search advertising, or contextual advertising. I think there could be a case that SEM includes social media advertising in some cases.

If the intent of advertising is to influence search rankings then I’d argue that should be included in the broad definition of search engine marketing. In that case, buying links – though frowned upon by search engines – could be considered a part of search engine marketing.

However you define search engine marketing, there is one thing that all marketers online can agree on. You can’t build a web business today without it. Search engine marketing is as essential to business today as sunlight.

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