What Is SEM And Why Is It Important?


More than 93 percent of the time people find a website or a business via search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing and with the advancement in the marketing landscape and the emergence of Digital Marketing, a constant question about what is Search Engine Marketing (SEM) revolves around various advertisers and marketers.

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing is a digital marketing strategy which is used to increase the visibility of a website or a business in search engine results pages (SERPs).

While the term once referred to both organic search activities and paid search activities, it now refers almost exclusively to paid search advertising. Hence, search engine marketing is also referred to as paid search or pay per click (PPC).

Why is SEM important?

With an increasing number of consumers researching and shopping for products online, search engine marketing has become crucial for increasing an organization’s reach.

In fact, more than 93 percent of the time people find a website or a business by performing a query on a search engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

In search engine marketing, advertisers only pay for impressions that result in visitors, making it an efficient way for an organization to spend the money which is allocated for marketing and as an added bonus, each new website visitor incrementally improves the website’s rankings in organic search results.

Since consumers enter search queries with the intent of finding information of a commercial nature, they are in an excellent state of mind to receive marketing messages and to be nurtured as prospective customers.

Search engine marketing reaches consumers at exactly the right time, i.e., when they are open to new information and unlike the majority of digital advertising, search engine marketing is non-intrusive and does not interrupt their tasks.

Results are immediate with SEM and it is arguably the fastest way to drive traffic to a website.

How does SEM work?

Search engines use complicated algorithms to ensure the most relevant results are returned for each search, including location, contact details and other available information.

In paid search advertising, sponsored ads appear at the top of search engine results pages to gain more visibility and prominence than the organic results.

Let’s say that you are a customer looking for a product or service online and that you go to a search engine and type in your search term (also known as keywords).

In the search results page, you will come across various company ads whose keyword(s) match the keywords in your search.

Along with the other search listings that match your keywords, these ads appear in prominent locations on the page and these paid listings are highly relevant to your specific search, making it very likely that you will click on them.

Now let’s take a look at how does it work from the marketer’s perspective.

SEM networks are self-serve operations and once a marketer selects a network, he or she can get a campaign up within a short period of time.

When setting up a campaign within a SEM network, they are prompted to:

  • select a set of keywords related to their website or service or the product they are advertising
  • select a geographic location for the advertisement to be displayed within
  • create a text-based advertisement to be displayed in the search results
  • bid on a price they are willing to pay for each click on their advertisement

Text-only ads are the easiest to produce. Marketers enter a headline, text for the body of the ad, a call-to-action and a URL for the hyperlink and that’s it.

Search engine marketing is considered by many to be the most efficient way to spend the money allocated for marketing.

The two primary search networks that SEM professionals target are Google Ads and the Bing Ads.

Google Ads actually consists of two networks: Google Search Network and Google Display Network. The search network consists exclusively of search-related websites owned by Google, while the display network includes properties such as YouTube, Blogger and Gmail.

The Bing Ads allows customers to buy ads on both the Yahoo’s network of websites and Bing’s network.

While Google Ads has a much larger network, the pricing is often lower on Bing Ads. Marketers may be able to get a better rank for a competitive keyword phrase for less than they get on Google and some marketers also report that the clickthrough rates are higher on Bing as well.

I hope that this post will help you understand what is Search Engine Marketing in the most comprehensive way possible, but to be a certified Search Marketer, it is must that you go through the practical perplexities of SEM.

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