For those who are already aware of the difference between SMO, SEO, SMM & SEM, you know that they are quite unique concepts and the outcome is also quite unique. For those that are just starting their e-commerce initiative or have come across these commonly used terms, here is some info to help you tell them apart.

SMO (Social Media Optimization)

SMO is also popularly known as Social SEO is basically the activity you carry out on your social media page by posting information that reaches your existing followers and their friends.

Benefits of SMO

The key benefit of SMO is to engage with your audience and help it grow through regular interactions. These interactions are meant to be more direct and not for marketing purposes. The idea is to let your customers reach you on a more personal level rather than a one-sided marketing platform that just talks and does not listen.

SMM (social media marketing)

SMM, on the other hand, helps you run ads on social media networks to acquire new followers or web traffic to your website.

Benefits of SMM

SMM can provide reach and help you grow your audience. SMM offers what search marketing cannot offer and that is the ability to specifically target users that fit a certain profile. The ability to target precise audiences helps you grow your follower base by adding quality rather than just quantity. Re-marketing through SMM is also another great way to target users that have previously expressed interest in your product or service.

SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

Search Engine Marketing or SEM as it is popularly known is the broad definition of all activities that an e-commerce business carries out to improve their websites visibility on search. This includes PPC (pay per click), SEO (search engine optimization) and another form of marketing activity done using search engines.

Benefits of SEM

SEM allows you to go after what is called on-demand traffic. These are users that express their desire for a product or service by using a search query on search engines. This kind of traffic has the most intent to buy and can be very expensive to buy. However, since the purchase intent is high, most advertisers are willing to spend on acquiring this traffic.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO is actually a part of SEM. SEO is a much narrower subject that involves optimizing your website for search engines to list your website in their organic search list SERP. The way you get traffic from SEO is by implementing SEO guidelines prescribed by search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. SEO involves both on-page and off-page factors that need to be implemented.

Benefits of SEO

SEO helps you acquire traffic organically on search engines and for free. Although it’s technically free, you do need to spend money on resources or an SEO agency to get your website optimized for search. The long-term benefits help you balance your overall cost of SEM. You can identify expensive keywords on search and try to optimize them using SEO. This will help you gain visibility for organic search keywords that are highly competitive on PPC.


Web marketing is a combination of activities and you need to study your audience behavior before investing in the right platform. Depending on your key demographic target, you could test multiple platforms and see where your audience is most likely to find and engage with your brand.



Author: Akbar Lalani
Akbar Lalani is an entrepreneur and currently the CEO of Corelead Interactive. He has over 3 decades of experience in building strategic marketing plans and managed several online brands for small, medium and large companies including Fortune 500 companies.