From: Bill Treloar

Jill --

In a recent newsletter, you said:

"As you know, the advertising side of search engine marketing isn't really my forte, since I concentrate my efforts and knowledge on the optimization side of things."

I do the same, but I'm sure you're better at articulating "why." I'd be very interested to learn about that. Good topic for the newsletter?




~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Bill,

Yes, good topic!

Before I can explain my reasons for concentrating on the optimization side of things, I should probably discuss the differences between search engine marketing (SEM) as a whole, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, and search engine optimization (SEO). So here's my take on things...

SEM is the broad industry that encompasses all marketing that involves search engines including:

  • Buying and maintaining PPC ads;

  • Search engine submissions through paid-inclusion and trusted feeds;

  • Traditional SEO work.

One piece of the puzzle that transcends all aspects of SEM is understanding how to choose the appropriate keyword phrases for your campaign. Whether you concentrate on SEO, PPC or trusted feeds, keywords are key. There are other aspects of SEO that use overlapping skills, but working with PPC ads and working on SEO can be two very different animals.

Buying and maintaining PPC ads is advertising. It's very similar to advertising in a newspaper or a magazine. It doesn't take much in the way of technical skills, but relies heavily on understanding target audiences, demographics, conversion rates and return on investment, along with having the appropriate ad-writing skills.

SEO is a bit more on the technical side. These days we do have to have a knowledge of target audiences and all that, but traditionally SEO involves understanding how search engines work, as well as having some knowledge of HTML coding and Web site design. You don't necessarily need those skills to be good at PPC.

Most of the good SEOs out there today started out as site designers and/or programmers and have been doing SEO for many years now. Having learned things gradually over time, it seems easy to me so I'm happy doing things the way I've always done them. By concentrating only on SEO and not trying to figure out all the intricate details of PPC, I have the opportunity to learn every nuance there is to know about SEO and I still learn new things every day.

It's my feeling that if I tried to branch out to PPC also, I'd have to split my energy and my brain power which would probably make me less effective in my work overall. It's already a lot of work to keep up with traditional SEO and to also master the art of running a business, managing clients and contractors, paying the bills and trying to keep some semblance of having a family life!

I guess the bottom line for me is that whatever I do these days I want to be the best at it and know everything there is to know about it. And I just don't have the time or inclination to do that with the other aspects of SEM, so I leave it up to others. But ask me anything about SEO, and I betcha I'll have an answer for you (or know how to find it).

June 12, 2003

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ,, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

Search Engine Guide > Jill Whalen > Search Engine Marketing vs. Search Engine Optimization