What is SEM? Search Engine Marketing Explained!

  • November 15, 2018

You may have put all your efforts into researching keywords and studying the technicalities to boost your site’s search engine optimization (SEO).  After all, the goal is to get high up on the list of search engine results pages (SERP).  But, what if I tell you that you can make things a bit easier if you get to know more about search engine marketing (SEM) as well?

Let’s face it, SEO does not happen overnight.  You are bound to be burning the midnight oil figuring out how your branding will build its online presence.  And in spite of those efforts, you’ll be bummed to discover that you still are not showing in the first two or three pages on Google searches.

That’s why it’s time to learn the ropes of SEM and discover the reasons as to why it can pave the way for a better SEO.





Let’s begin with SEO.  Search engine optimization or SEO, is an ongoing process of giving your site a strong organic online presence by showing up in the top search results.

SEO is primarily a marketing discipline that’s why it used to be just a category of SEM.  However, SEO has become so loaded with technical and creative aspects such that it turned practically into a whole new concept on its own.

Strategic use of keywords in content, linking structure, meta data,  and throughout the entire site, encompasses SEO, which are indexed by a search engine such as Google.

Nevertheless, search engine marketing is paying the search engines for an ad placement in order to be prioritized in their rankings.  This paid aspect of SEM makes it different from SEO.  So when somebody types your target keywords on Google, your ad will show within the first few results, if not at the top.




Can I make do with just one or the other?

In reality, the answer is yes. That said, it is not necessary to perform SEM and SEO together, but it will provide the best scenario if you do both.

It is perfectly fine if you want to concentrate on SEO for your website.  The fact that you don’t have to pay for your site to get high search engine rankings is an attractive, albeit a challenging feat. SEO entails a lot of work on your part, knowing how you can structure your brand that can be easily understood by search engines will improve its visibility.

Given the SEM route, you are able to strengthen your brand by driving the right kind of traffic and not having to wait for it.  Your ads are easily seen by active product or service searches of your target audience.  And being on top of the list is everything.  You would want to be the first one that gets the big bite of the market share.




Search Engine Marketing Platforms

Aside from Google, which is a popular choice with their Google AdWords, there are other search engines such as Bing (Bing Ads). Then there’s also Yahoo with its Search Ads, both of which have their own advertisement platforms.

All SEM strategies use the Pay-per-click (PPC) model, which pays a certain fee for ad clicks.  You have to remember, however, that PPC is independent of SEM, therefore it can stand alone. Examples of such PPC marketing models are social media advertisements like Facebook ads and the like.

What sets apart these PPC endeavors is that social media websites show your ads to those who are browsing their feeds instead of those who are actively searching using keywords or identical content. There lies the advertising difference between SEM ads and PPC ads, although both share a common goal of broadening one’s online marketing campaign.


SEM Search Engines


SEM and keyword usage

You must know that determining keywords plays a vital role in Search engine marketing as they do with SEO.  Keyword research is your first step when employing a paid marketing platform.  Using the wrong keywords will cost your SEM and miss out on potential leads. It is key that your company is represented by specific keywords to achieve a successful marketing campaign.

To illustrate the importance of using the right keywords, you’re in the business of providing HVAC services such as maintenance, installation, and repair.   While your industry covers HVAC in general, you will have to use the established keywords, for example, AC maintenance, furnace repair, furnace installation 24/7, among others.

So in theory, you should not push the usage of the term HVAC services on your site structure as you will not be able to get web traffic you want if people are typing in AC maintenance, etc. on the search engine.


How to choose the appropriate keywords

As stressed earlier, keywords are essential ingredients of a winning marketing campaign.  Ideally, you will aim for high volume keywords, which have less competition.  For example, the keywords holiday deals are most searched by users, but a lot of websites are gunning for the same attention.  So if you’ll also include narrower keywords, it increases your chances of ranking high organically.  You also have a lesser cost per click (CPC) in the process.

The next thing to do is keyword research using tools available so you don’t have to rack your brains figuring out the right ones.  The most common research tools for keywords are Moz’s Keyword Explorer and SEMrush, which can supply keyword data such as search volume, CPC, and other analytics.  These informative prove useful, especially for the budget-conscious web enterprise.  This will also determine advantageous keywords that work for your industry, or it will just be too much to pay for an ad.




Bidding on the coveted keywords

It is not enough that you have determined the most effective keywords for your business. You must also succeed in employing the best bidding strategies.

Bidding on keywords works the same way as bidding on eBay.  You may have placed the highest bid at $1,000 but your next competitor placed his bid at only $18.24.  You have easily outbid him, but you will only pay a fraction higher than your competition’s highest bid instead of yours, which is $1,000.

However, it’s not as simple as bidding up the competition to get the number 1 ranking.  You must balance the need for higher ranking and having a budget for CPCs, otherwise, this might cause your business downfall.

Thankfully, ranking high is not just about paying for CPCs and outbidding competition.  You can work on having high quality ads, which Google factors in when placing them on SERPs.  Each advertisement is given its corresponding quality score, after which, your rank is determined.

How is the quality score calculated?  Your ad should have a solid landing page and should have a significant relevance to your target keywords.  With a good quality score, you can achieve a low CPC and direct more budget to increasing ads instead.




SEM deserves a fair attention

You now know how Search engine marketing works and why your brand can benefit so much from it.  When you decide to focus on SEM, not only are you ranking high on SERPs, it becomes a great marketing effort in the process.  Furthermore, you are able to see immediate results as well as long term ones, which can help convert web visits into paying clients.


One of our experts is online, she will get back to you

Tanya Mendes

Marketing Manager