Search Engine Marketing (SEM): What is It?

August 21, 2018

Search Engine Marketing (SEM): What is It?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is more than just SEO. Search engines have other marketing methods that businesses can use to expand brand awareness and drive conversions. Let’s take a look at these methods and how they can help your business generate more revenue.


Search Engine Marketing is often synonymous with any form of paid marketing that a search engine offers. Unlike SEO, which involves no compensation to the search engine, SEM is a paid advertising method. The most common paid method search engines offer is pay-per-click ads.

The concept is simple enough. After you create your ads, the search engine calculates a price that you’ll pay them every time someone clicks on the ad. This price is determined by several factors, including how much you’re willing to pay, how much others are willing to pay for the same keyword, and the competitiveness of the keyword itself.

When a searcher sees your ad and clicks on it, they are brought to a sales page on your site. This page is called a landing page. Here, the visitor can study your offer and, hopefully, will take it. This converts them from a visitor to a paying customer.

So long as you get enough conversions to cover the costs of your PPC clicks, there’s little risk in using this method. But this is easier said than done, as there are many nuances to PPC that are best handled by a professional PPC company.

Search Engine Differences

PPC is a type of SEM, which means that different search engines have different features with their PPC systems. Depending on your niche and your marketing channels, some PPC systems may be better for your company than others.

Let’s take Facebook as an example. Facebook is probably the most powerful B2C PPC system because they have so much personal information about us. The way that Facebook makes money is by monetizing this personal data to help businesses create ad audiences that are deeply interested in what the ads are offering. In other words, they have the ability to laser-focus their ads to their audience.

Google and Bing do the same thing, but their data sets are the searches that people perform on their platforms and our behavior on those sites. Every company that offers PPC advertising uses their data and their algorithms to match your ad to the right searchers.


There are other powerful marketing features linked to these PPC platforms. Retargeting is an example. We’ve all had the experience of visiting one part of the web and having ads related to where we were pop up on another site. This is an example of retargeting in action.

What’s happening is that a little piece of information is stored in your browser when you visit these sites. When you later visit a site that connects with the right PPC network, it reads that information and serves up ads related to your previous visits. This is an extremely powerful brand awareness tool.

Video Marketing

While most PPC ads are text, there are some systems like YouTube that use video advertising. If you can make a commercial spot, you can use YouTube’s paid advertising to get it placed in front of the right people. In a system like this, you might have to pay per impression (view) rather than per click. It all depends on how it is set up.

Display Marketing

Finally, there are sites that use search engine data to display relevant advertising to people directly on their own sites. This is called display marketing. If you run a site that sells many different products, this could be a good fit for your site, but it is quite tricky to use without turning off visitors.

So, if you are struggling to make your way to the top of the organic search listings, consider using search engine marketing techniques instead. These paid methods can deliver a quick burst of traffic to your website. The goal is that the traffic will convert and you’ll be able to grow your profits and create a stronger sales and marketing engine for your business.

Tags: sem , ppc