Online Marketing Training for Newbies – A Guide to Learning About SEO, SEM, and Social Media Marketing

So you’ve decided to become a digital marketer, and you’ve taken the first step by enrolling in a marketing class or reading a marketing eBook. Now what? You might be wondering where to start, what all the terms mean, and what is the best approach to take in order to succeed. Where can I get a good general guide for SEO, SEM, and SMM?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Below, you’ll find an overview of key online marketing terms, what they mean, and how to effectively use them in your marketing campaigns.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Seo, short for search engine optimization, is the practice of optimizing your content (text, videos, photos, etc.) for the major search engines (e.g., Google, Bing, or Yahoo!). Essentially, if a potential customer is searching for a product or service like yours, you’ll want your content to show up “above the fold” — i.e., at the top of the search results page. When a user encounters your content, they’ll have to make a decision: click on your content to proceed to your website or blog, or scroll down the search results page to find other products.

The better your content, and the more relevant it is to potential customers, the better your seo will be. When performing seo, it’s important to focus on the user’s experience (UX) — ensuring that everything from the way content is presented to the way product is purchased is perfectly optimized to provide the best possible experience (bespoke content strategies, persona-based UX analysis, and so on). If you’re looking to get started seo, take a look at our SEO crash course — it’ll walk you through the process step by step. And if you’re looking for more details, our SEO for beginners guide is a great place to start.

SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

SEM, short for search engine marketing, is a form of paid search marketing where you pay to have your website or blog featured on the search engine results page (serp) for specific phrases or words associated with your industry or niche. Essentially, you’re paying Google to drive traffic to your site.

SEM is a very cost-effective way to gain exposure and gain credibility with potential customers. When used correctly, it can be extremely effective. Our SEM expert, Brian Miller, will go over the different types of SEM campaigns, the pros and cons of each, and how you can use Adwords to get started.

SEM is a key component of a hybrid marketing approach, where you combine paid and organic search to reach your target audience. SEM is especially useful for boosting your organic search, which means your website or blog will still appear in the search results when people use popular keywords or phrases to find information online. However, in doing so, you’re also allowing the major search engines to display your content in their results (hence the name “paid” search).

You’ll find many successful marketers who use SEM mixed with SEO, depending on your niche and the terms you’re targeting. For example, say you’re selling lawn equipment and you’ve established an organic presence on the web for your company (a blog post, for example). If you take the time to target the right phrases and use keywords in your content, the major search engines will begin to notice you and your content — specifically when someone is looking for information about lawn equipment. In this case, it would be beneficial to deploy both SEO and SEM on your blog.

SMM (Social Media Marketing)

SMM, short for social media marketing, can broadly be described as the practice of using social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) to drive consumers to you or your product. It’s a very cost-effective way of gaining credibility and building a brand, especially when used in conjunction with SEO and digital marketing.

The better your content, and the more you engage with your audience, the better your smm will be. When creating your content strategy, consider the target audience for each social media platform and the devices (e.g., mobile, tablet) they use to access your content.

Many brands and businesses successfully use smm to reach their target audience. But as with any marketing approach, you need to be careful not to misuse the platform. When done right, smm can be extremely useful for building your credibility and brand as a thought leader in your industry. Just remember, you often need to build a following on the various social media platforms before you can effectively use them to market your products.

The better you utilize the various social media platforms, the more opportunities you have to effectively market your products and grow your business. If you’re looking to get started with smm, a great place to start is the Google Marketing Platform—it provides you with a single interface to access all of Google’s various platforms (e.g., Gmail, YouTube, Maps, etc.).

Key Online Marketing Terms

The following are some of the most common terms used in online marketing:

Search Engine

The “search engine” is the program or interface that users use to find information on the Internet. The most popular search engines are Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. If someone is looking for your product or service, they’ll use one of these search engines to search for information online.

You can also think of the search engine as the “platform” behind the scenes that makes all of this possible. Search engines like Google and Bing have a wide array of products and services that you can use to grow your business. For example, Google has a tool called “Google Adwords” that allows you to pay to have your website or blog featured on the results page of Google searches. Using this tool, you can target specific phrases or words and bid on them (i.e., offer to pay Google to have your site or blog appear on the top of their results page).


A keyword or keyphrase is a phrase or word (e.g., “lawn mower”, “best gift for a dad”) used along with a keyword tool (e.g., Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush) to find websites, blogs, and social media posts that match your chosen terms. When users type a keyword or keyphrase into the search bar of Google or another search engine, they’re shown a list of results that match their search.

The better your content and the more relevant it is to your target audience, the more opportunities you have to rank for certain keywords or phrases and, as a result, appear on the first page of the search results page.

Keyword Research

Keyword research involves using keyword tools to find the terms or phrases that you or your product or service is most likely to be found under. If someone is searching for “lawn mower”, they’re probably interested in buying a lawn mower. In order to appear on the first page of the search results for “lawn mower,” you’ll want to ensure that your website, blog, or social media posts contain these terms and that they’re used frequently.

You can also use keyword research to find terms or phrases that are used frequently (and the most profitable) by your competitors. In this way, you’ll discover their key terms and identify a key way to beat them at their own game. In performing keyword research, make sure that you use a reliable source — someone who has access to the search history of lots of users.

If you’re using Google Keyword Planner, you can perform basic keyword research for free. Once you’ve entered your product or service into the tool, you’ll see a tab called “Keywords” in the top right corner. Click on this tab to see a list of suggested keywords and phrases.


The content of your website, blog, or social media posts is very important – it’ll be the first thing a user encounters when they visit your site. You’ll want to make sure that your content is of high quality and offers a great user experience. The better your content, the better your SEO, and the better your chances of having visitors to your site.

When someone lands on your site, they’ll see something visually appealing — a nice design, user-friendly navigation, and interesting content. Everything about your site or blog, from the words on the page to the way it looks, needs to work together to provide a positive user experience.