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Point of View: The Death Of SEM?

Posted on 2.10.2014

By Marcus Howling


Various publications and bloggers continue to publish articles predicting the death of search engine marketing or SEM. Could this actually be the end of SEM and thousands of careers? Sarah Kershaw quotes Chris Dannen from Fast Co Labs for saying “Search has been less and less relevant since Facebook released News Feed. Now we get the vast majority of our traffic via social, and about 1-2% from search.” This got me thinking. Is it true? Will search marketing die? Will companies be able to stop paying Internet Marketing firms thousands of dollars simply because social media marketing is taking over? In order to better understand why that is simply not possible, you have to understand what search marketing is.

What is SEM or Search Engine Marketing?

(SEM) or search marketing is not SEO, or search engine optimization. Although people tend to intertwine the two terms or get them confused, SEO happens prior to starting you SEM campaign. After optimizing your website, you begin promoting through paid advertising, and content writing for your blog, or other online publications. Prior to this new notion that social is somehow separate from SEM, many people would say social media marketing is a part of SEM, along with blogging, PPC and retargeting.

Back To The SEM Social Media Debate

So back to Sarah Kershaws quote from Chris Dannen, my point is, his success in the social sphere has everything to do with the work his SEO/SEM team has done. If you simply throw up a website and start forwarding all types of reckless ads from social to your site, you might see some successful results at first. However, without proper targeting or unique content, social paid ads still work like PPC. If the ads are pushing people to useless content the user was not looking for, sites could begin to see their ads lose strength. It is possible that after your site has been optimized a lot of your traffic will come from social, but that does not mean SEO and SEM are going to fade out or become non factors. It only means that social media marketing is becoming a bigger aspect and influencer of search engine marketing. It only means that your company should be ensuring your Internet marketing or advertisement company is incorporating time to promote your company on social. 


Marcus Howling, The SEO Doctor, is an SEO specialist and a regular contributor to Website Magazine and other leading publications.

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