While search engine optimization and search engine marketing may sound like identical practices, there is actually a number of significant differences between these two different business building activities. Each business has its own parameters and characteristics, such as a budget or different types of business models, and depending on the specific traits of your own business you can determine whether search optimization or search marketing (or a combination of both) is the right choice for you.
Here is the main difference between optimization and marketing in the search engines: Marketing is paid advertising that can deliver large amounts of traffic immediately (at a high cost), while optimization tends to be free or very inexpensive and is a long-term traffic strategy. This is an important distinction to notice, because if you have a small budget and cannot afford to risk spending money on an advertising campaign that may not deliver profits, it may be in your interest to choose the path of search engine optimization which is cheaper.
There is one principal aspect of efficient search engine optimization which is totally free, and that is your on-page elements such as including the right keywords on each page and adding META elements that will determine how your web page is displayed on a search engine results page. Focusing on your own internal website architecture may consume time, but it does not cost any money. Other important on-site aspects to consider are interlinking your own pages or posts properly, making sure that you do not use “keyword spam” in the design of your website, and making sure that there is a sitemap file that includes direct links to all of the pages or posts on your website or blog.
The other (more difficult) aspect of search engine optimization has to do with the links that point to you from other websites and locations on the internet. While the links that other people choose to include to your website may be further out of your control, focusing your attention on this business task is still a whole lot cheaper than paid advertising models. Link building may be able to deliver you some immediate visitors to your website, but this approach should generally be considered a long-term business building strategy that will deliver results over many weeks or months.
For a website owner who is running a solo operation who does not have a team of people nor prior experience with paid advertising models, simple search engine optimization techniques like the ones mentioned above can be the key that you need to start building your visitor base without the large and sometimes risky expense of paid search marketing.
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