SEO, SEM, PPC or Social for B2B’s

Like myself, most busy executives do their best to stay on top of the acronyms in internet marketing techniques. They should be aware of these marketing strategies and how they fit in with the bigger picture. Does the bigger picture involve a lot of immediate web traffic? What about customer engagement though social media? How about long-term organic search results?

A short explanation of SEO, PPC, Social Media, and SEM will help executives make smart marketing decisions to further the reach of their company.


SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and it’s the process of working with how a website appears in organic search results. “Organic” in this case means “unpaid.” Essentially, SEO affects where your website shows up in search engine rankings. The higher a website appears in the organic search results (for a specific search phrase), the better its SEO is.

What Does SEO Involve?

SEO works with the content of the website. A common analogy is to think of search engines as the librarians of the internet. SEO often involves the following:

-Use of specific keywords

-Creating excellent, informative content

-Improving a site’s navigation to better the user’s experience

-Link building (with care and precision)

-Working in social media and engagement

The adage “content is king” is popular in the internet marketing world, and nowhere is this reign stronger than in SEO.

When Should I Choose SEO over another internet marketing technique?

-When the marketing budget is small. SEO is one of the least expensive marketing method. Compared to many traditional marketing techniques that can cost thousands of dollars per month, SEO (in some cases) can be as little as $850 per month.

-When the CPCs in the target industry are expensive. CPC stands for “cost per click,” and is heavily associated with PPC. If the target industry’s CPC is extremely high, it’s difficult for smaller B2Bs to be competitive.

-When the SERPs are not competitive. SERP means “search engine result pages.” If the first three Google pages are dominated by big names like Wikipedia or Amazon, other businesses will have a hard time edging into the front page since those websites have so much authority.


PPC or “pay-per-click” is purchasing ad space through Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing, Bing Ads and the like. This allows the company to display paid ads that appear at the top of search lists regardless of SEO.

What Does PPC Involve?

PPC requires optimization of campaigns, done through the dashboard of the targeted ad source. Some of the choices advertisers will need to make include the following:

-Device selection (laptops, desktops, mobile)

-Location targeting (specific locale, countrywide, worldwide)

-Budget (how much will be spent per day)

-Key phrases

-Landing page design

When Should I Choose PPC?

-When a great deal of traffic is desired for a short period of time. PPC virtually guarantees swift exposure. It’s much easier to A/B test landing pages, banner campaigns, email newsletter signups and more with high traffic.

-When protection from search engine algorithm updates is desired. SEO is heavily dependent on the whims of search engines. PPC is not.

-When the advertising budget is big. PPC garners a great deal of exposure, but not without a cost. PPC is best used when there’s a considerable amount of money in the advertising coffers, otherwise it can become an expensive mistake.

Social Media

Social media marketing is where websites work on gaining traffic or attention through social media avenues. This is the internet’s equal to “word of mouth,” as the goal is to create sharable content and get consumers to spread the content of their own volition.

What does Social Media Marketing Involve?

Social media marketing doesn’t require work with search engines, but does involve careful work of great content in hopes of producing something that goes “viral,” or is shared extensively among consumers. Social media marketing involves the following:

-Signing up for social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and more

-Setting up a location check-in with Foursquare

-Sharing video on sites like YouTube and Vine

-Sharing images through Flickr and Pinterest

When Should I Choose Social?

-When a “grassroots” approach to marketing is desired. Unlike other advertising methods, social doesn’t involve appealing to the search engines whatsoever. It’s simply the company and the customer interacting.

-When time for operating social is available. Social media is inexpensive, but it does require constant maintenance. Many B2B companies outsource their social media for this reason.

-When there is time for proper coordination. Few things can create as much backlash as a poorly timed or worded tweet. Social media posts need to be carefully calibrated to avoid accidentally offending the target market.


SEM stands for “search engine marketing” and is often used interchangeably with SEO, though this is not quite correct. SEO is under the umbrella of SEM; SEM combines SEO with paid methods like PPC.

What Does SEM Involve?

SEM is a comprehensive marketing strategy that requires a lot of time and coordination to maintain. However, a strong SEM campaign can provide much exposure for B2B firms. SEM includes the following:

-All the components of SEO

-All the components of PPC

-A carefully calibrated balance between the two so that one doesn’t overwhelm the other

When Should I Choose SEM?

-When a solid SEO strategy is in place. SEO can take a while to produce visible results, but once a company is consistently performing well in the SERPs, it may be a good time to move to a more comprehensive SEM campaign.

-When a company wants to reap the rewards of longterm strategy and short-term strategy at once. With SEM, it’s possible to have it all; the quick returns of PPC and the slow and steady growth of SEO.

-The company is experiencing “tree falls in a forest” syndrome. This is when a company has good content, but isn’t getting the desired amount of traffic. SEO can take a long time to develop. For companies who want to avoid talking to an empty audience, SEM is a great double-pronged approach. If the company’s tree is falling in a forest, someone should be around to hear it. SEM will bring the traffic.

Internet marketing is challenging and complex. However, even if executives do not have the time to market themselves, it’s important to understand the concepts. This allows the executive to better promote the bigger picture of their B2B company.

At CC&A, we’re committed to the success of your business and want to help you achieve measurable results. Our comprehensive internet marketing services help your business’ online presence promote brand awareness, engage your audience, and boost sales.