What do Paid Search Marketing and SEM mean?



Not getting enough website traffic despite your SEO efforts? You may need to consider Search Engine Marketing(SEM).

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing or SEM is the process of getting website traffic by paying for ads on search engines.


Previously, SEM was an umbrella term that included SEO and paid search activities. However, now, SEM refers solely to paid search while search marketing encompasses both SEO(Search Engine Optimization) and SEM.


Some terms referred to as SEM are;

  • Paid Search Advertising

  • Pay-per-click (PPC)

  • Paid search ads

  • Cost-per-click (CPC)

  • Cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM)


Why is SEM important?

Search Engine Marketing is a crucial online marketing strategy that helps companies to reach out to more people. With more and more consumers researching and shopping for products online, SEM has become even more important today.


In fact in SEM, you have to pay only for impressions that result in visitors, making it an effective way to spend your money. Also, each visitor helps boost your website rankings in organic search results.


Since customers enter search queries to find information about a product or service, they are more likely to make a purchase compared to other social media where users are not looking for something specific.


The best part about search marketing is that it reaches consumers at the right time when they are looking for new information. PPC advertising is non-intrusive unlike other forms of digital advertising and does not disturb tasks. Also, SEM produces immediate results and is the fastest way to drive traffic to your website.

How does SEM work?

Search engines use several algorithms to provide you with the most relevant results for your search query, including location and other important information.


In paid search advertising, the sponsored ads gain more visibility and prominence as they appear at the top of and on the side of search engine results pages.


If you are looking for a product or a service online and say you type in your query or keywords, you will be provided with a list of company ads whose keywords match with the keywords in your search.


These ads will be displayed at prominent locations on the page along with other search listings that match your search query. As the displayed ads are highly relevant to your search query, you are more likely to click on it.


So, how do SEM campaigns work?

Once you select your SEM network, you can get a campaign up within a short span of time.


When setting up a campaign, you must;

  • Conduct keyword research and choose specific keywords related to your product or website

  • Select all the geographic locations you want to show your ads in

  • Create a text-based ad to be displayed in the search results

  • Bid on a price you are willing to pay for each click on your ad

You can create text-only ads by entering a headline, text for the body of the ad, a CTA, and URL for the hyperlink.


Do keywords matter for SEM?

Keywords are the foundation of SEM so you just cannot ignore them. You need to select the right keywords when you run your SEM campaign as they will determine which ad will show up on which queries. Therefore, it is very important to carry out thorough keyword research to run a successful SEM campaign. It will help reach your target audience effectively.

How can A/B testing benefit SEM?

As you are spending money on search engine marketing to bring traffic to your website, it only makes sense to optimize that traffic for conversions and make sure it worth your money.


The best way to maximize your spending is by A/B testing your landing pages. You can do it either by optimizing for average order value or revenue per page.


Optimizing your landing pages will help boost your Quality Score with search engine marketing networks thereby reducing your average CPC.


You can use platforms like Optimizely to implement your A/B tests that offer you real-time results and help you take better business decisions. Optimizely can be integrated with Google Adwords and Facebook that make setting up ad-related experiments easy.

Final Thoughts

As search engine marketing puts you directly in front of users who are looking for your products and services, it can be a great investment for your business. Even if you have to pay for every click, it is still worth a try.

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