points covered

  • Define Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • How Does SEM Work?
  • Why Is It Important?

What’s search engine marketing?

define search engine marketing

When it was first introduced, people used the term search engine marketing to describe both search optimization and paid advertising. But over the years, it’s become its own thing. It’s now used to define all paid advertising on search engines. Search engine marketing or SEM as some people call it covers all paid advertising on Google search, Bing, and the display networks of either search engine. Some people would include Yahoo search as well but I think that platform has died.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is important because it helps businesses gain useful traffic and leads. Advertisers use it to increase their website’s visibility in either Google’s or Bing’s search results. This allows them to get valuable traffic to their site that they might not have otherwise gotten. Because of Search Engine Marketing, businesses are able to increase their conversions and brand awareness.

How Search engine marketing works

With SEM, businesses and advertisers pay a certain amount to drive qualified traffic to their website. When you do a search on Google, you’ll see about three or four Blue Links at the top of the results with the word Ad next to them. These ads are a result of such engine marketing. Advertisers create an account on either Google’s or Bing’s marketing platform and build campaigns that will serve ads in the search results page. Whether or not their ads will show and what position they will show in, depends on their quality score, ad rank, and bids. For Google specifically, advertisers are judged based on their landing page experience, budget, and ad copy. 
Before setting up your first search engine marketing campaign, you should know who you are marketing to, how much it will cost to break even, and what kind of value you want to receive. Google is great for promoting both services and products. For services, you can use Structured Snippets, call extensions, and site links. For products, you can use Google shopping ads to display beautiful imagery of your products and great descriptions.
After deciding your budget and audience, you can start to build your first campaign on the search engine network. The beautiful thing about search engine marketing is that it gives advertisers a lot of options to work with. You can conduct keyword research to find relevant keywords that will direct high quality traffic to your site. You can craft beautiful ad copy that will grab your audience’s attention and make them click. You can choose the location you want your ads to show in so that you can target the right audience. You can manually control your bids so that you won’t ever go over budget.
Search engine marketing is a powerful tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. According to Boston Hospitality Review, 79% of guests booked a hotel online after searching on Google. In another study, assistant professor Reena Malik found that SEO and SEM were the most effective ways to increase sales. While SEO is a great way to send traffic to your site, most businesses don’t have the patience to do it. SEO can take up to a year before you start seeing good results. On the other hand, SEM offers immediate results. With search engine marketing, you simply have to create a campaign and choose your budget to start showing your website in the search page results.