Search Engine Marketing (SEM): What It Is & How to Do It Right

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the paid version of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). We have discussed this topic on this website at length before. You’ve likely seen many SEM entries in your day. Every time you have performed a Google or Bing server and seen an add within the search. This is all SEM is but it has become a topic of lesser conversation in our increasingly social media world.

In this article we’re going to talk about Search Engine Marketing (SEM). We’re going to discuss what it is. Then how it compares to SEO. Finally, why we think that it is still a better option for more traditional businesses. We will then compare it to paid ads on Facebook or other social media.

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

It is simply the process of advertising on the Google or Bing search engines. These paid advertisements then appear on search engine results pages (SERPs). Instead of putting an ad up and targeting a certain demographic, generally you target a keyword. An example of this would be for a butchers to target “Butchers London”. This would then show up under that search when a user types these keywords.

The way that the ads are won is through a bidding process. In simple terms, you set a maximum bid on each click. If it is high enough, it will show your ad above other advertisers. This is known as Pay Per Click (PPC).

The reason that SEM is still so effective is because it maps ideally to the buying habits of users. When a user is searching for a product or service, it means they are actively seeking. As such the likely hood of them purchasing is far greater. Especially when compared to an impulse purchase after seeing an ad in a social feed.

The strategy which most employ when it comes to search is to use a mixture of SEM and SEO. An SEO keyword you target can take 6-12 months to reach its peak. This means that most marketers will employ an SEM strategy. Until the organic SEO has gotten close enough results to the SEM. At this point they will usually focus on another keyword. It’s a simple budget, cost benefit, style of analysis and action.

Keyword Research

One of the fundamental parts of imploring an SEM strategy is targeting the right keywords. You need to first find out which keywords are your customers searching for. Think about they types of questions and phrases that work for your business. If you aren’t sure then you can head to Answer the Public’s Free Tool and type in your industry. This will allow you to view all of the most popular searches and questions people are asking.

However my personal favorite way, which we employ heavily here at Learn SEMrush, is to imitate. What I mean by this is that there is surely a competitor that has done the research. Why reinvent the wheel. Simply type their website address into the tool below, or head directly over to SEMrush. This link will give you a 7 day free trial, enough time to get what information you need. This will then give you all of your competitors keywords.

Placing an Ad

We won’t bore you with the full breakdown of how to place a Google Ad. The reason is that, like the video above, there are hundreds of resources on this from Google themselves.

However I do want to just quickly run through some key ideas that you need to understand. The first of which is that Google has a Quality Score. To ensure that your ad meets this Quality Score, head back over to SEMrush. Then check your advert in the paid advertising section. This is important as Google will only serve up ads to users which meet a minimum score. It will also take this into account against another ad with a similar bid.

Maximum Bid is important to be set. It is really simple but as a quick overview, the highest bidder who meets the Quality Score will have their ad show up first. Not much more to say on it really.

Finally even if you meet the quality score and the highest bid, you may still not show up because Google takes in hundreds of different factors. These include location and more importantly the information that they have on a signed in searcher.

Happy hunting and straight forward search engine based help shortly.