What Is Search Engine Marketing?

With so many businesses and information on the internet, how can one guarantee they have the attention of their users? Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the answer!

With so many businesses and information on the internet, how can one guarantee they have the attention of their users? Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a great way to increase your website’s visibility by focusing your marketing efforts on search engine platforms. For businesses to stay ahead of the game and guarantee they are getting enough traffic to their website, they had to adapt to the new ways consumers choose to make purchasing decisions. Guaranteeing your ads are seen online not only will make your campaigns more effective, but it can also lead to a decrease in your marketing costs. But what exactly is SEM?

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What is SEM?

As briefly mentioned above, Search Engine Marketing helps increase your website’s visibility on a search engines’ results page or SERP. This process exclusively refers to paid marketing, which is also known as pay-per-click (PPC) or paid search.

Marketers will bid on keywords they think their users might include in their search when trying to find their product or service. The search engine will then determine, through algorithms, which ads contain relevant keywords that correspond to the search query. Once the search engines have determined the position of the ads, they will be displayed at either the top or the side of the search results. Common ads that tend to appear in search results are text ads, shopping ads, prices, reviews, and much more.

The biggest advantage of SEM is that due to the keywords specified, the ads will be placed in front of motivated buyers in a visible location to encourage clicks and increase the chances of conversion.


Now that you know a little more about search engine marketing, you might be wondering what the difference is between SEM and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). To put is simply, SEM is a type of marketing where you pay for your traffic while SEO is completely organic.

With SEO your position on the search engine page is based on various factors, one of which is the relevance of your content in relation to the search query. It is not easy to get your SEO strategy right as results are only measurable in the long run.

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Search Engine: Bing Vs. Google

Search engines were designed to search the web in a systematic way for a particular set of information. The two biggest search engines in the world are Google and Bing. Although Google and Bing were made with the same purpose in mind, as a marketer it is important to understand the differences between the two, and how these differences affect SEM. Stay tuned to our blog as next week we will explore the similarities and differences between Google Ads and Bing.

The Importance Of Keywords In SEM

Your SEM strategy should be focused on keywords. Due to the self-service nature of these networks, marketers are able to execute new campaigns in a very short period of time. Due to this, there needs to be a focus around the thing that fuels the strategy and so it is important to conduct thorough keyword research.

Keyword research is important because it will help you identify what keywords your audience is using to describe your product or service. Missing out on keywords could be the reason you miss out on a potential opportunity. While you need to identify the most relevant keywords for your business, you also need to focus on identifying the “negative keywords”. Negative keywords will indicate to a search engine that when those keywords are used, the ad must be excluded from the SERP. This will avoid attracting people to your website that are unlikely to convert and decreases the chances of paying for an unnecessary click. An example of this would be if you are advertising a juice bar. A user searches for “Detox Juice Recipe” and your site appears, even though you do not have any juice recipes. Adding “Juice Recipes” as one of your negative keywords will ensure your ad does not appear for this type of search.

Another important facet to focus on is search intent. Search intent refers to the likeliness of a search query to turn into a purchase or other desired action. Keywords such as “discount”, “buy”, “deals”, “coupons”, “free-shipping’’ and “sale”, have high commercial intent. This will give you an indication that the search will most likely result in a purchase.

Account Structure And Its Effect On SEM

Keywords need to be relevant to your product or service and there is no better way to ensure that is the case than with keyword grouping. While you are conducting your keyword research think about what would be the best way to structure your account. Both Google and Bing recommend structuring your account as shown in the image below:

  • Ad Account
  • Ad campaign
  • Ad group
  • Keywords

Ad campaigns are grouped by similarities between the attributes of your product or service. You can think of it as the overall category. For example, if you are the owner of a salon you can categorize your ad campaigns by similarities in your treatments. So your two ad campaigns would be “manicures” and “pedicures”.

Ad groups are to further subcategories your ad campaigns according to relevance. Continuing with the example above, one of your ad campaigns for “manicures” and your ad groups could be “gel manicures”, “acrylics”, and “paint and polish”.

Getting your research and your account structure right can be a little time-consuming, but once everything has been put together you will be set up for success! This structure is the best way to optimize your campaigns to get a high CTR at a low cost per click.


The last aspect of SEM is identifying your budget. Although a large budget can be beneficial when you are looking at targeting very competitive keywords, it does not necessarily mean that you will get better results.

Every ad, no matter how high the bid, has to go through the search engine auction process before appearing on SERP. An ad auction will take place every time a search query is typed into a search engine. To take place in the auction, marketers need to bid on keywords that are most relevant to the product/service in order to get their ad to be displayed alongside the search results. The search engine will then determine if those keywords are indeed relevant to the search query and if so your ad will be entered into the auction.

Search engines will take multiple factors into consideration before determining the placement of your ad on the search engine page. Google’s search engine will focus on two factors when determining your ad position: your maximum CPC and your quality score.

Quality score is a rating between 1 and 10 that Google uses to rate your ad, indicating its relevance. While your maximum CPC is the amount you have indicated that you are willing to pay for one click. During the auction process, those two metrics will be calculated to determine the Ad rank, which will be the position of your ad on the search engine page result. The higher your quality score the better! Google will favor ads that are most relevant to the search query and so a high-quality score could not only guarantee a higher position but can also guarantee lower costs.

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More Than Just SEM

There are various variables that influence the effectiveness of your SEM strategy. Your search engine, your bid, and most importantly your keywords. Keywords will be the drive of any campaign you create and so it is important not only to focus on relevant keywords related to your products but also on keywords that might drive unnecessary traffic and spend. Marketing is more than just SEM, there are various other elements that come into play to make sure you are getting the right exposure and engagement across your audience. Check out our blog to learn all you need to know about digital marketing and digital marketing reporting.

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