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Search Visibility, Search Optimization & Search Marketing

SEV, SEO, SEM, SEF, SERP…. What’s it all mean?

Well, we can dispense with the first two letters as they’re common to all, Search Engine.

This leaves us with a few other letters of the alphabet, namely “V”, “O”, “M”, “F” and “RP”.


Search Visibility is what everyone wants. Everyone wants to be on page one of every search engine for every term related to their particular product and/or service. The more visible a site is the more likely it is to get traffic. Increased traffic brings with it the potential of increased sales, subscribers, or whatever the goal of the site is.

SEV is sort of the overarching umbrella including SEO, SEM, SERP which correspondingly, are tactics, strategies, techniques and tools deployed to increase visibility.


Search Optimization is, in itself, more an overall process to make a website search engine friendly (SEF), not only making a search engine more likely to index the entire site, but also to help the website rise “naturally” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) in search engine results/rankings page (SERP).

This process includes working with on page items such as defining keywords (relevancy & location), analyzing content (freshness, engaging, & well written) and site architecture (“crawl”-ability and page load speed). It also means looking at off page factors including links (to you), social (reputation and media), trust (authority & history) and personal (popularity, & geography).


Arguably, depending on the context, Search Marketing (SEM) can be an umbrella term for various means of marketing a website including SEO, which adjusts or rewrites website content to achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages, or it may contrast with SEO, focusing on only paid components.

For the purposes of distinction, we’ll focus on off-page and paid components. Paid inclusion or pay per click (PPC) is also referred to as sponsored listings where the search engine charges a fee (per page or per click) to be included in the search page results.

PPC is sometimes used as a SEO tool to ‘experiment’ and rapidly gain knowledge to assist in organic optimization.

As previously suggested, social media can play a part in increasing traffic. As such, Social Media Marketing (SMM), a method, depending on your view, of exploiting or leveraging social media to influence consumers about the value of your products and/or services.

Although we’ve only skimmed the surface, as you can see the whole SEO, SEM, SERP thing is rather involved, inter-related and comprehensive. Getting traffic is one thing, ensuring that it’s the right traffic, traffic that can be converted to customers is a bit more tricky, but generally more valuable.

Being found on page one versus page 23 in search results often spells life or death for some enterprises. SEO/SEM can increase site traffic 250, 500, even 1000% and unfortunately there are some third services that attempt to ‘game the system’ and deploy questionable tactics. Therefore, search engines periodically adjust and develop new algorithms and shift criteria by which web pages are ranked, to combat against misuse.

We know there are plenty of SEO and online advertising companies that are all too happy to take your money with promises of substantially increased traffic and sales. Some are reputable, many not so much. Some focus only on one thing or another as the ‘golden ticket’.

As, I hope we’ve shown, a great deal of it starts with a well-designed site, not just aesthetically, but in structure and content. Wouldn’t it make sense to have your new site designed or established site re-designed with search optimization and visibility in mind from square one? Then once (re)launched, deploy sound search and social marketing strategies to gain further benefit?

We think so too.

The Imagination Factory • 15 Ionia Ave. SW, Suite 220 • Grand Rapids, MI 49503 • phone: 616.356.CLIK (2545) • fax: 616.356.2546 • email: Contact Us Online

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