in Business & Marketing

Evolution of SEO, SEM, SEA, SMO, PPC over the past decade

I come from the days of online marketing where we only used two terms: SEO & PPC. Over the years, new terms and acronyms emerged: SEM, SEA, SMO to name a few. I am sure there are many more but these are the ones that I most often come across.

So here is a global trend of these marketing acronyms over the past 10 years. Note the sharp decrease in the use of PPC which has been diffused across SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and SEA (Search Engine Advertising). This data is segmented to the “Internet & telecom” category for best results.


Here are the trends for the US:  
And here are the trends for the UK:


It’s interesting to see these acronym trends shift over time and it does say a lot about the industry and demand for the different marketing services. Note that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) truly holds the test of time and its by far the most commonly searched marketing service. SEA seems to be winning over SEM which really encompases both SEO and SEA. Especially for the UK. Now lets look at the growth of SEO across some different markets: Note that UK exceeds US in search volume and that both these countries seem to have reach saturation point a few years ago. Smaller countries like France, Germany and Italy are still growing, which potentially suggests these countries are a few years behind and many businesses still need to catchup to US and UK in terms of being optimized for search engines and growing their businesses online.
If I add India to the list you can see the enormous amount of SEO activity this country experienced over the past decade with the sharp drop in volume coinciding with all the algorithmic changes google made in 2011/12 in order to improve their search results. If you are in the SEO industry, you no doubt know about the countless emails you received from India SEO agencies offering you their services. Interestingly, the India numbers are now down close to the US and UK numbers, reflecting a more healthy balance for SEO and likely a lot less spam emails from SEO agencies in India which I have noticed considerably in my own inbox.


And finally I just wanted to show you the trends for SEO verses the spelled out search engine optimization. You can see that in the early days people more frequently spelled out the acronym but now days SEO has become a common acronym people recognize and search for.

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