Guide to Search Engine Marketing

Looking to expand your digital marketing portfolio? It may be time to explore search engine marketing.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a type of digital marketing that enables businesses to target customers in their search queries. By placing ads within the top spots of organic search engine result pages, businesses can draw higher levels of attention from potential consumers and boost their brand’s overall visibility.

The core aim of SEM is to drive targeted traffic and conversions for businesses. Companies can advertise using specific keyword phrases when creating campaigns. This increases the opportunities to reach specific target audiences who are already searching for their products or services.

Key Takeaways

  • Advertisers can access different types of SEM formats, such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads, Product Listing Ads (PLAs), and text-based advertisements.
  • Search engine marketing (SEM) is an excellent form of online marketing that enables companies to reach as large a customer base as possible and maximize their return on investment.
  • SEM involves paying for advertisements to appear on search engine results pages. SEO focuses on improving organic website rankings through careful keyword use, high-quality content optimization, and white-hat link building.

Background Information: What You Need to Know

Advertisers can access different types of SEM formats, such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads, Product Listing Ads (PLAs), and text-based advertisements. PPC Ads allow marketers to pay only when a user clicks on an ad, while PLAs appear as product listings within organic results if users enter keywords related to that particular product or service. Text-based advertisements are small and unobtrusive but offer an effective way for companies to reach more potential customers as they appear all around the page instead of just one part.

Why is Search Engine Marketing Important?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of online marketing that enables companies to reach as large a customer base as possible and maximize their return on investment. As more customers shift their shopping habits online, SEM has become integral in connecting advertisers with their target market.

Compared to other marketing channels, SEM stands out for its efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and ability to specifically target customers actively looking for what a company offers.

Businesses can be sure they’re reaching buyers at the right time ‚Äî when actively seeking products or services. Additionally, because the only charges result from impressions that result in visits, advertisers don’t need to waste time or money on unqualified leads or clicks. The added bonus is that as visitors engage with the company website, it helps improve organic search rankings.

Who Should Use SEM?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an ideal digital marketing strategy for companies of all sizes and industries. Whether you’re launching a startup in the world of eCommerce or an established retail company, SEM can help you connect with the right audience.

Through targeted campaigns, SEM can help attract the ideal customers who are likely to be interested in what you offer.

Benefits of SEM

SEM’s marketing method enables companies to track user intent and capture lower-funnel activity to guide customers directly toward products and services.

At the same time, one advantage of SEM that stands apart from other forms of marketing is its real-time measurability. As a result, companies can track and measure results which helps maximize the ROI of digital marketing investments.

When running a campaign, it’s easy to quickly assess the impact of various ads and make adjustments as necessary. This allows marketers to ensure their campaigns perform optimally and not waste funds on tactics that don’t yield results. In addition, with this information, companies are better prepared to make informed decisions about where they allocate their budgets for maximum effectiveness.

How Search Engine Marketing Works

Businesses competitively bid on relevant keywords or phrases, so their ads appear when those terms are submitted in a user’s search. When users enter the query, they are presented with the most relevant sponsored ads first, followed by organic results. SEM gives businesses an edge over their competition by providing audiences with more immediate access to products and services.

Search engine algorithms recognize keywords and phrases within content, assess the relevance and quality of information, and rank websites accordingly. The better optimized a website’s content is for keywords related to its industry‚Äîsuch as product names or jargon‚Äîthe higher it will rank when searched for those specific terms. Advertisers then use tactics such as keyword-targeted campaigns to show up at the top of SERPs for their desired keywords. Ads may also be shown on other websites that have opted into Google’s Ad program once people specifically search for such ads. Overall, SEM can quickly draw attention from potential customers from all over the internet who are actively looking for exactly what you have to offer at any given time.

SEM vs. SEO

Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are two commonly confused terms in the world of online marketing, but they have some key differences. SEM involves paying for advertisements to appear on search engine results pages, while SEO focuses more on improving organic website rankings through careful keyword use, high-quality content optimization, and white-hat link building.

SEM Best Practices and Helpful Tips

Creating a successful search engine marketing (SEM) campaign requires careful planning and execution. Understanding best practices and helpful tips can help ensure your campaign achieves the desired objectives.

  • Set Up Google Ads Account & Campaign Structure: Step-by-step instructions are available here to help you properly set up your Google Ads account.
  • Choose the Right Keywords: It’s important to choose keywords your target audience is searching for, and it’s also important to choose the words. For ads, it’s best to choose keywords with commercial and transactional intent.
  • Consider Keyword Volume and Competition: While not always possible, choosing relevant high-volume terms with low competition is helpful. But, again, balance your choices with your budget goals.
  • Look at the Cost Per Click (CPC): The winning ad placement in a Google Ads auction is based on Quality Score and the highest bid. The most expensive terms are also the most competitive. Considering CPC will help you identify what your audience is looking for.
  • Add Negative Keywords: Using negative keywords in a campaign or ad group can prevent your ad from appearing on irrelevant search result pages.
  • Remove Duplicate Keywords: Take time to protect your budget by ensuring each ad is unique.

Write Excellent Ad Copy

Great search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns don’t just include efficient keyword research and smart ad targeting. Writing solid ad copy is critical in developing successful SEM campaigns. To maximize the impact of your ads, focus on each of these four components: the headline, display URL, description, and ad extensions.

  • Optimize Your Headline: When constructing your headline, try to keep it short yet sharp; the best headlines are concise and memorable. Focus on making your words spark curiosity or create urgency.
  • Choose a Display URL: Your display URL should be easy to read and link directly to the website you’re trying to promote.
  • Write Click-worthy Descriptions: Description sections allow you to give customers more detail about what you offer or why they should buy from you. Finally, incorporate relevant ad extensions whenever possible – such as location or call-outs – that can quickly inform customers while they’re scanning ads.
  • Include Ad Extensions: Examples include call buttons, location information, and links to your website.
  • Create a Corresponding Landing Page: The landing page is where users go when they click your ad and usually has the same URL as your final URL.

There are a lot of details that go into setting up a proper search engine marketing campaign. So whether you’ve tried your hand at Google Ads or you’re starting to explore this marketing avenue SMA Marketing is available to help. Contact our SEM experts to learn more.

SEM FAQs

Is Facebook an SEM?

Social Media Marketing (or SMM) utilizes social media platforms such as Facebook, while Search Engine Marketing (or SEM) involves paying for ads that appear on search engine results.

How Much Does SEM Cost?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer regarding the cost of search engine marketing.

Are there any similarities between SEM vs. SEO vs. PPC?

SEM, PPC, and SEO are all strategies for increasing search engine visibility and driving website traffic. While each strategy has a different approach and execution, the three are similar.

For example, all three approaches require deep knowledge and expertise in keywords and target audience to understand better the intent behind the search query and how your competition looks at the search term. Additionally, all three strategies use A/B testing and experimentation to support a long-term strategy and return on investment.

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Beth Walker is a Content Manager who is passionate about storytelling. She leads our In-House writing team and works closely with clients and CSMs to ensure all the content SMA creates meets SEO best practices and tells each client's unique story.

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