SEM, short for “search engine marketing”, is a form of online marketing that revolves around promoting websites (and increasing its number of visits) by increasing these pages’ visibility and ranking them higher in search engine result pages mostly through paid ads.
Some people position SEO (search engine optimization) under the search engine marketing umbrella, mostly because both involve working towards achieving better visibility and positioning on search engines.
Through SEM, companies aim to increase their share of paid (or organic, if we’re considering SEO as well) traffic referrals from search engines.
Other than just paid ads, SEM encompasses a lot of other strategic aspects, such as keyword research, competitive analysis and more. Nowadays, SEM is seen as one of the most cost-effective ways to grow a business.
Let’s face it, there’s plenty of fish in the sea competing for a limited number of customers and search engine marketing provides a safe way to promote your business so it stands out and catches your customer’s attention.
How does SEM work?
Basically, SEM means marketing your business by making it rank better on search engines by either optimizing it (using SEO), paid ads (such as google adwords) or both.
By rank higher I mean showing up in the first search page or as one of the top results (in case of paid ads), which is actually pretty good for your reach, considering that 75% of searchers don’t search past the first results page.
Keywords are the base of everything when it comes to search engine marketing. Advertisers must research and pick carefully keywords their prospective customers might enter when looking for their product.
Then, they bid on them (some are way more expensive and have a much higher cost per click than others).
Paid ads come in many different sizes and shapes, some are just text (short and objective), others contain visual elements that show their customers important information beforehand, such as product reviews, price, etc.
Using SEM to promote your business allows you to promote your business/product in a way it’ll be shown to motivated customers: they’re searching for a product that caters to specific needs and they’re very likely to be on the decision-making point of the customer buying cycle.
That’s what makes search engine marketing so great, you’re putting your product right in front of people that are looking for it (even though they may not know it yet).