SEM Strategies vs. SEM Tactics

By July 27, 2009Blog, Marketing

There are many people in this world who still don’t believe in the power of the business vocabulary. Experts argue about the importance of building your knowledge about business terms and how they represent the true core of understanding the development of your business across its various stages. This fact is especially important in the case of business men entering newer business fields like Search Engine Marketing. The point here is that you can’t afford to make a faux pas when you are communicating with your clients and management about strategies and risk mis-coordination. The problem is compounded as the project grows in size and every aspect requires more attention to detail.

SEMs mostly get confused about two terms: SEM strategies and SEM tactics. It has been found that 90% of the marketers tend to define strategies as tactics or vice-versa. The definitions of these terms clear the confusion to an extent. A strategy is defined as a “long-term action plan for achieving a goal”, whereas tactics are described as “near term actions taken to solve specific problems or accomplish specific goals” (

Now think of a scenario where a big SEM project is handed over to your firm. The project is usually accompanied by a vision statement provided by the stakeholders. This vision goes beyond the normal demands of the clients, like getting a higher page rank or bringing in more traffic. But smaller SEO projects will tell you right in the beginning about what they really care for and that is more traffic. It is actually the strategy which has an all-embracing approach for achieving the project’s vision. Tactics, on the other hand, are the actual steps that are planned and implemented in order to fulfill a strategy’s objectives. But tactics come into the picture only after a strategy has been approved. Hence, it is always better and more effective to start with the strategy and then move ahead with the tactics.

Still confused? Let us take a real-life example. A hypothetical company called XYZ Ltd. has to develop an effective SEM strategy for their latest product ‘M’ in order to take over the current market leader, ABC Ltd. The problem is that ABC’s product ‘N’ is such a well-known, established product, that XYZ Ltd. website can never be the number 1 authority site for prolific and relevant keywords. Now, you create a SEM strategy to improve the image of ‘M’ so that consumers are drawn to buy it over ‘N’. For doing so, you can think of tactics like using the best SEM practices to get top rankings on Google and educating visitors about the advantages of ‘M’. You can also frame a strategy to build the brand awareness for XYZ’s products by implementing tactics like creating a product website and placing banner ads at highly-visible, strategic web locations.

You can have as many strategies or tactics as you want to depending on your project’s budget and its scope. Sometimes strategies and tactics overlap, but only in limited number. Tactics are indispensable but strategies are very important in guiding your team and harnessing their efforts in a better way.

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