This article is about what Web-Duka considers these terms to mean, how to tell the difference between them, and what they mean in the web design world.
Search Engine Friendly (SEF)
SEF can be described as everything the web developer does to your website to make it friendly (easy) for search engines to find and rank. There are a number of accepted ‘best practice guidelines’ which can be followed to ensure a website is SEF, examples of such best practices include;
- links made of text instead of images
- building the site in CSS instead of tables so the page has less code and more relevant content
- having correct tags like H1, H2, ALT, XHTML, etc
- a proper XML sitemap
- Search Engine Friendly url’s (e.g. ‘/about_us’ as opposed to ‘/index.php?option=com_about.php’)
- the use of meta tags, titles, keywords and page descriptions.
SEF also deals with the usability for your website’s visitors to navigate your site. SEF techniques are done in the development and building stage of a website project, but also fall under the ongoing website maintenance and updates. Generally, SEF refers more to the technical aspects of website development than SEO.
SEF is part of optimizing your site as it goes hand in hand with SEO, but it is important to draw the line between the two to avoid confusion. Web-Duka websites follow SEF best practice guidelines and are ‘SEO ready’ on completion and handover allowing the client to incorporate SEO and SEM techniques should they wish to.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the most often used and most misunderstood term of the three. SEO goes beyond SEF into the content itself. SEO has its roots in marketing and is a weekly, monthly or yearly ongoing job.
SEO, in a nutshell, is all about keywords. Finding the right keywords, which are not only relevant, but that you can also compete in, can be a massive task depending on the size of the website and the competitiveness of the target market.
SEO is all about researching keywords to find gaps or areas that a site can perform well in and enhance quality visits.
One of the main aspects of SEO is ‘keyword tracking’, which is the process of finding the most highly searched keywords on the internet for your industry and target market. There are various pieces of software such as Wordtracker that are used to analyse keywords. These keywords are then used on a piece of content to help it get a higher ranking.
There is a vast array of factors to take into consideration and the majority of SEO generally consists of quality keyword research and quality link building. During the process of professional SEO, in which research and building can take weeks/months, the build up of spreadsheets, statistics and data is crucial. Not only can it be important for the client to see (SEO is a very “non-visible” practice and takes time to make an effect) but it is vital for drawing a plan. The actual implementation of SEO is fairly minimal in comparison but the research and planning phases aim to make a significant difference for Search Engine results.
As SEO can be very time consuming and is often not done thoroughly it can be confusing as to what SEO actually is. Hopefully by reading this the differences between SEF, SEO and SEM has been easier to grasp.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) - also known as Online Marketing
As the term suggests, SEM can be described as marketing online. There are numerous marketing techniques to improve a websites ranking position in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN.
Paid Inclusion - Paying a search engine to add a site to its database immediately, rather than using the free listing options that allow a site to be found over time by search engine spiders.
Paid Adverts - Paying a search engine to place an advert on a results page. These ads usually appear based on keywords entered, and are charged based on the number of impressions, not appearances. Basically, you are charged whether the ad generates traffic to your site or not.
‘Pay per click’ (PPC) Advertising - Text only adverts that are controlled by the advertiser. Specific keywords entered in the search engine will display the advert. The advertiser writes the copy and specifies the amount they want to pay. You only pay for the ad when someone clicks on the ad and is brought to your site. There are two main PPC advert providers, Google and Overture. One should be prepared to spend a lot of time (and money) setting up, monitoring and adjusting a PPC advertising campaign.
Other marketing methods include Google Adwords, posting comments to other websites forums or blogs, social networking accounts such as Facebook, link campaigns, email campaigns, YouTube and Twitter, questionnaires or promoting your own community through forums or blogs to drive traffic to your website.
There are many companies that just offer SEO and SEM services, and they can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month, illustrating how much time, effort, experience and knowledge can go into a successful SEO or SEM campaign.
Web-Duka offer a a variety of SEM and SEO services, please contact us for more information.