Search Engine Marketing Definition

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing, in short (SEM) is the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing ads on reputable search engines. Such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and even Yandex search engines.

“Search Engine Marketing” was once was used as an umbrella term to encompass both SEO (search engine optimization) and paid search activities.

Over time, the industry has adopted the SEM acronym to refer solely to paid search.

At jmexclusives, we generally use SEM and/or “Paid Search” to refer to paid listings, with the longer-term of search marketing used to encompass both SEO and SEM.

Below are some of the most common terms also used to refer to SEM activities:

  • Paid Search Advertising
  • Paid Search Ads
  • PPC (pay-per-click)
  • CPC (cost-per-click)
  • PPC (pay-per-call) – some ads, particularly those served to mobile search users, may be charged by the number of clicks that resulted in a direct call from a smartphone.
  • CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions)

Important to realize, most search ads are sold on a CPC / PPC basis, but some advertising options may also be sold on a CPM basis.

Search Engine Marketing
SEO & PPC: A Primer on Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – Image by Improve & Grow

Search Engine Marketing Definition

In reality, Google AdWords (Google Ads) is by many measures the most popular paid search platform used by search marketers. Eventually, followed by Bing Ads, which also serves a significant portion of ads on Yahoo.

Beyond that, there are a number of “2nd tier PPC platforms” as well as PPC advertising options on the major social networks.

In addition to covering general paid search trends, you can find the most recent news about SEM and helpful tips to get started with PPC ads on the major search marketing platforms below:

As a matter of fact, each platform offers its own getting started guides and helpful tutorials. Another beginner resource is Google’s Insider’s Guide To AdWords (PDF).

Since the guide was last updated on 2008, the Google AdWords UI (user interface) has changed. And also, along with several features, but the guide may still offer a useful introduction.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Goals 

Search engine marketing, often abbreviated as SEM, is the name given to the variety of online marketing tactics used by businesses to market to users via a search engine, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.

Recent research by Forrester indicates that 71% of consumers begin the buying journey by performing research on a search engine. Another recent study shows that less than 10% of users ever go beyond the first page of search results.

The goal of SEM is driving qualified traffic to your website for specific keywords that relate to what you sell.  There are two primary ways to get on the first page of Google.

In the first place, it is useful in earning your way on the first page naturally by getting your website to appear in the “organic” search results. And also, which is commonly referred to as SEO or search engine optimization.

Secondly, it is one of the means webmasters pay to have their sites appear via sponsored search listing. Then again, which is referred to as PPC or pay-per-click because advertisers are charged each time a user clicks on their ads.

A common question many companies ask is which is better, SEO or PPC. The answer is that it depends. Below, let’s differentiate the two terms.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a marketing discipline focused on growing organic visibility (non-paid) search engine results.

Additionally, it is the process of improving the position that your website appears in the “organic” search results.

For example, returned by sites such as Google, Yandex, Bing, Yahoo, etc. As a matter of fact, Search Engine Optimization isn’t just about building yourself a search engine-friendly websites.

But, it’s about making your site better for people too. Moreover, jmexclusives believes that these principles go hand-in-hand.

Equally important, sites that appear higher up in the results will get more traffic to their pages.

Coupled with potentially more landing page visits, lead conversion and product sales in your business. Your goal is to get to page one and ideally to position one.

Here is the complete revised article guide on SEO

Search Engine Marketing and Pay-per-click
What Is PPC? Learn the Basics of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing

What is Pay-per-click?

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is an approach to ranking for keywords by paying to sponsor a listing on the first page.

PPC is great because you can on the first page very quickly. And you have very precise control over who sees your ads because you can target specific keywords, locations, devices and time of day to show your ads.

And because these ads are highly targeted, they also tend to convert at a higher rate. The downside of PPC is that you pay for every click and you can really get it wrong if you don’t know what you are doing.

Similar to SEO, it takes a lot of work and effort to run effective ad campaigns, but there are a few key areas that lead to success.

So which is better, SEO or PPC?

If you are just getting started with online marketing and want quick results and have a good sales model with a high margin product or service, you might want to start with PPC.

If you have a limited budget, low margin sale and are willing to build up results over time, SEO might be the best fit.

In that case, jmexclusives typically recommends a blended strategy where you use PPC to drive immediate traffic for very highly qualified keywords.

While at the same time, you work to earn organic traffic overtime for all of the relevant keywords at each stage of the buying process.

In an ideal world, you’d invest in both SEO And PPC, because that would help you maximize your market share and results.

Search Engine Marketing Foundations
What are the main and basic Foundations of Search Engine Marketing?

The Foundation of Search Engine Marketing

As can be seen, Search engine marketing is the practice of marketing a business using paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (or SERPs).

Notably, advertisers bid on keywords that users of services such as Google and Bing might enter. Particularly, when looking for certain products or services.

Of course, which gives the advertiser the opportunity for their ads to appear alongside results for those search queries. In other words, these ads, often known by the term pay-per-click ads, come in a variety of formats.

Some are small, text-based ads, whereas others, such as product listing ads (PLAs, also known as Shopping ads) are more visual. In addition to product-based advertisements that allow consumers to see important information at-a-glance, such as price and reviews.

Remarkably, search engine marketing’s greatest strength is that it offers advertisers the opportunity to put their ads in front of motivated customers. Generally speaking, who are ready to buy at the precise moment they’re ready to make a purchase.

No other advertising medium can do this, which is why search engine marketing is so effective and such an amazingly powerful way to grow your business.

What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

Generally, “search engine marketing” refers to paid search marketing, a system where businesses pay Google to show their ads in the search results.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is different because businesses don’t pay Google for traffic and clicks. Rather, they earn a free spot in the search results. By having the most relevant content for a given keyword search.

Both SEO and SEM should be fundamental parts of your online marketing strategy. SEO is a powerful way to drive evergreen traffic at the top of the funnel.

While search engine advertisements are a highly cost-effective way to drive conversions at the bottom of the funnel.

Quality Score in Search Engine Marketing

In reality, given that Google AdWords’ Quality Score comprises half of the ad rank formula, it is one of the most crucial metrics search engine marketers can focus on.

High-Quality SEM Scores can help you achieve better ad position at lower costs because Google favors ads that are highly relevant to user queries.

Quality Score is arguably the most important metric in search engine marketing. To learn more about Quality Score and the impact it can have on your campaigns, read this resource at PPC University.

In general, keywords are the foundation of search engine marketing. As users enter keywords into search engines to find what they’re looking for, it should come as little surprise. Especially, that keywords form the basis of search engine marketing as an advertising strategy.

But, before you can choose which keywords to use in your search engine marketing campaigns, you need to conduct comprehensive research as part of your keyword management strategy.

Example of Pay Per Click Advertising Network

According to one of our online affiliates, the Search Engine Land, for instance, they provide paid search advertising information and news in a variety of ways:

  • All PPC News & Articles includes verified product features and announcements from the major search advertising platforms. Covered by heir editorial staff, plus expert analysis and real-world advice from our contributor network.
  • How To: Paid Search is their section that is devoted to practical tips and tactics about paid search ads.
  • Search Ads Archives: This area of Search Engine Land provides a collection of all stories we’ve written on the topic of paid search.

Not forgetting, there, you’ll find additional sub-categories for special topics in paid search marketing including Search Ads:

At their sister editorial site Marketing Land, they cover related topics in digital marketing, social and search-based advertising, including:

With this in mind, Sign up for their weekly SEM and daily SearchCap newsletters to get the latest PPC news from their reporting team.

Not to mention, and also from Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and other trusted sources all over the web.

Here is a link on getting started with Search Engine Land

Example of Search Engine Marketing Network

By the same token, another good example of SEM partner and online affiliate is WordStream.

At WordStream, they eat, sleep, and breathe search engine marketing. Whether you’re a newcomer to paid search marketing or a seasoned professional, they provide you with everything you need to succeed at search engine marketing.

For instance, their integrated PPC management platform, WordStream Advisor, makes managing your search engine marketing campaigns easy and efficient.

In the end, leaving you more time to focus on what really matters – growing your business.

WordStream Advisor’s 20-Minute Work Week has revolutionized paid search management for thousands of businesses.

Whereby, their intelligent, customizable alerts highlight areas of your AdWords and Bing Ads accounts that are performing strongly.

Equally important, identifying areas in which improvements can be made for immediate results.

Get started with WordStream today

Summing Up,

Search engine marketing, or SEM, is one of the most effective ways to grow your business. Especially in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

With millions of businesses out there all vying for the same eyeballs, it’s never been more important to advertise online.

And therefore, search engine marketing is the most effective way to promote your products. In addition, growing your business reputation and awareness online equally.

Resourceful References

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and have understood some of the SEM basic.

But, if you’ll have additional contributions, suggestions or even questions, please feel free to Contact Us.

In the same fashion, you can share your thoughts with other readers in the comments box below this article.

Finally, below are more useful links related to the topic above.

  1. Digital Marketing and Advertising Guides
  2. Search Engine Optimization » Beginners Guide
  3. Welcome to Microsoft Advertising Help
  4. Google Ads – Get More Customers With Easy Online Advertising
  5. What Is PPC? Learn the Basics of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing
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