Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is one of the most effective ways to grow your business and reach new customers. While it's critical you employ organic strategies to attract traffic over the long-term, sometimes, you can't properly compete on the SERPs without putting money behind it -- and that's where SEM comes into play. For instance, consider what happens when I type "summer shoes" into Google: Zappos clearly has an effective SEO strategy, since its "Summer shoes" page ranks first organically. However, their paid "Summer Shoes" ad, circled above, ranks as the first search result overall. With 35% of product searches starting on Google, and the average Google search lasting only a minute, it's critical your business's product or service appear at the top of a SERP when a user is searching for it. This isn't always possible organically, particularly when other businesses are paying to ensure their products appear above yours. When this is the case, it's critical you invest in a SEM strategy. SEM, or search engine marketing, is using paid advertising to ensure that your business's products or services are visible in search engine results pages (SERPs). When a user types in a certain keyword, SEM enables your business to appear as a result for that search query. To ensure you're able to use SEM to properly advertise your products or services on the SERPs, we've cultivated a list of the best SEM tools, as well as the components of a SEM Ad Auction. Once you're ready to invest in SEM, you'll need to enter into an ad auction -- for our purposes, we'll focus on the ad auction in Google Ads. In simple terms, every Google ad you see goes through an ad auction before appearing in the SERPs. To enter into an ad auction, you'll first need to identify the keywords you want to bid on, and clarify how much you're willing to spend per click on each of those keywords.
What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?
How an Ad Auction Works
Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is one of the most effective ways to grow your business and reach new customers.
While it's critical you employ organic strategies to attract traffic over the long-term, sometimes, you can't properly compete on the SERPs without putting money behind it -- and that's where SEM comes into play.
For instance, consider what happens when I type "summer shoes" into Google:
Zappos clearly has an effective SEO strategy, since its "Summer shoes" page ranks first organically. However, their paid "Summer Shoes" ad, circled above, ranks as the first search result overall.
With 35% of product searches starting on Google, and the average Google search lasting only a minute, it's critical your business's product or service appear at the top of a SERP when a user is searching for it. This isn't always possible organically, particularly when other businesses are paying to ensure their products appear above yours. When this is the case, it's critical you invest in a SEM strategy.
SEM, or search engine marketing, is using paid advertising to ensure that your business's products or services are visible in search engine results pages (SERPs). When a user types in a certain keyword, SEM enables your business to appear as a result for that search query.
To ensure you're able to use SEM to properly advertise your products or services on the SERPs, we've cultivated a list of the best SEM tools, as well as the components of a SEM Ad Auction.
Once you're ready to invest in SEM, you'll need to enter into an ad auction -- for our purposes, we'll focus on the ad auction in Google Ads.
In simple terms, every Google ad you see goes through an ad auction before appearing in the SERPs. To enter into an ad auction, you'll first need to identify the keywords you want to bid on, and clarify how much you're willing to spend per click on each of those keywords.
Once Google determines the keywords you bid on are contained within a user's search query, you're entered into the ad auction.
Not every ad will appear on every search related to that keyword. Some keywords don't have enough commercial intent to justify incorporating ads into the page -- for instance, when I type "What is Marketing?" into Google, I don't see any ads appear.
Additionally, even if your keyword is a good fit for an ad, it doesn't mean you'll "win" the bidding. The ad auction considers two main factors when determining which ads to place on the SERP -- your maximum bid, and your ads Quality Score.
A Quality Score is an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. You can find your Quality Score, which is reported on a 1-10 scale, in your keywords' "Status" column in your Google Ads account. The more relevant your ad is to a user, as well as how likely a user is to click through and have an enjoyable landing page experience, all factor into your overall Quality Score.
SEM strategy comes down to optimizing paid search ads with a specific goal in mind. In order to create a good strategy, you must understand how paid ads platforms works and effectively manage variables that affect performance such as keywords, budget, and copy.
With this in mind, here are some of the factors that should go into your strategy if you want to earn paid ads success:
Pay-per-click, or PPC, strategy starts with choosing the right keywords to bid on. That means doing research to determine what keywords to bid on or, in other words, what queries you want your ad to show up for. Start by brainstorming brand terms, terms that describe your product, and even terms that describe your competition.
If you have a small budget, you may only want to bid on keywords that have buying intent. However, if you have a larger budget, you may find that you have room to bid on keywords targeting earlier stages of the buyer's journey or even terms that are loosely related to your products.
Keyword Volume and Competition
If no one's searching for your target keywords, you won't get any results from your ads. At the same time, keywords with extremely high volume attract more competition (and, in some cases, lose relevancy). When doing keyword research, relevant high-volume and low-competition keywords are a sweet spot, but they may not be easy to come by. It then becomes a balancing act between demand (volume) and budget (competition).
Ad placement is determined by the bid you specific for the keyword and the quality score Google has given your ad. Higher bids and higher quality ads win the best placement. With this in mind, high competition keywords end up being more expensive. Bidding too low means your ad will not be shown, so you'll want to ensure that you can be competitive based on how much competition is for the keyword.
Account and Campaign Structure
In theory, you could lump all of your keywords together in a single bucket and display one ad for the aggregate lot. But your budget would be eaten up by a handful of high-volume keywords, and your quality score would go down. That's why structuring your Google Ads account properly is so important.
There are several levels for Google Ads campaign organization:
- Ad - The copy that's displayed for the keywords you've chosen.
- Keywords - The queries you're bidding on.
- Ad Group - Sets of like keywords grouped by theme.
- Campaign - Highest level for managing ad groups.
At each level, you'll be able to determine what's working and not working, making you more informed about performance and how your money is being spent.
At the end of the day, when your keywords are chosen and your account is structured, you still have to write good ads and "earn" the click.
An ad is made up of a few components:
- Display URL
Understand exactly what the searchers are looking for with their queries and see if you write a great ad that makes your offer attractive.
Keep in mind also that SEM isn't a set-it-and-forget-it activity. Ongoing PPC management helps you eliminate budget waste, experiment with ads, and optimize keywords you're bidding for to ensure that you're getting the most ROI from your efforts.
Best SEM tools
- HubSpot's Ad Tracking Software
- Google Trends
- Google Ads Keyword Planner
1. HubSpot's Ad Tracking Software
You're not paying for ads for the fun of it; you're paying for ads because you want to generate leads and drive revenue for your business. The HubSpot Ads tool helps you go beyond traffic and click metrics to analyze exactly how ads are influencing contacts where they are in the buyer's journey. This will help you understand which ads actually work, justify SEM as a channel, and integrate your advertising in with the rest of your marketing efforts.
SEMRush allows you to conduct extensive keyword research, keyword rank tracking, site audits, traffic analysis, and more. SEMRush is a fantastic tool for finding opportunities to rank for long-tail keywords organically, but additionally, you can use the tool for various SEM efforts. For instance, you can use SEMRush to figure out where your competitors are concentrating their marketing efforts, and analyze their regional presence, to figure out how much money you want to put behind certain keywords.
Additionally, SEMRush enables you to discover your main paid search competitors, figure out which keywords they're bidding on, and study the composition of their ads. This is vital information when you're cultivating your own paid strategy and are unsure how to out-rank other businesses on the SERPs.
Google Trends allows you to track search volume for a particular keyword across a specific region, language, or time frame -- which can enable you to identify which search terms are trending, and which ones aren't. Since you don't want to put money behind a keyword that's decreasing in popularity, this is an incredibly useful tool for your SEM efforts.
Additionally, particularly if you work for an ecommerce business, the ability to gauge interest in your product or service in a certain geographical area is undoubtedly powerful for ensuring you tailor your paid efforts to specific locations, saving you money in the long-run.
One of the most helpful features of Keywordtool.Io is its ability to tap into Google, Bing, YouTube, Amazon, Instagram, Twitter, and the App Store, so that you're able to segment your keyword research through various channels and better target your efforts. Additionally, the tool takes your base keyword and provides you with variations of words and phrases, which allows you to cultivate a more extensive list of possible keywords you might want to include in a paid ad.
Using Google Autocomplete to provide relevant keywords for you, the free version of Keywordtool.Io lets you generate up to 750 long-tail keywords and keyword suggestions for every search term. Plus, you can use the tool to analyze search trends on Google, to ensure your desired keywords are increasing in popularity and will continue to serve you well over the long-term.
Since Google is likely where you want your ads to appear, it makes sense to consider using Google Ads Keyword Planner to research relevant keywords for your business, and keep track of how searches for certain keywords change over time. The Keyword Planner will help you narrow down a list of possible keywords to ensure you're choosing the most effective ones for your business.
Additionally, Keyword Planner will give you suggested bid estimates for each keyword, so you can determine which keywords work with your advertising budget. Best of all, once you've found your ideal keywords and are ready to launch an ad campaign, you can do it all from within the tool.
Ever wish you could see which keywords your competitors are buying on Google, or check out which ad tests they've run? With SpyFu, you're able to do just that -- simply search a domain, and you'll see every keyword that business has bought on Adwords, every organic keyword for which they've ranked, and every ad variation they've had in the last 12 years. Plus, you can monitor your own paid and SEO rankings on Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
WordStream is a advertising management solution that can help you research, measure, and optimize your ads for performance. You get access to advanced reporting features for data analysis and tools for creating great ads. In addition, WordStream has alerts and workflow tools to help you make decisions about your campaigns.
With the above tools and a killer strategy, SEM can be a great strategy for lead generation. There's no reason why you shouldn't start your PPC campaign today.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
SEM, or search engine marketing, is using paid advertising to ensure that your business's products or services are visible in search engine results pages (SERPs). When a user types in a certain keyword, SEM enables your business to appear as a result for that search query.What is the focus of search engine marketing SEM )? ›
SEM (search engine marketing) is a digital marketing strategy that aims to increase the online visibility of websites on the search engine results page (SERP). This usually comes in the form of search ads that you see above non-paid, or organic, results.Can you explain what SEM enables you to do Google answer? ›
Paid search (SEM) enables you to buy listings in the “sponsored” area of a search engine. There are a variety of paid search programs, but the most common is called pay-per-click (PPC), meaning you only pay for a listing when a prospect clicks your ad.What are the 3 main search engine marketing products? ›
Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Local and Organic SEO
There are three main types of search engine marketing (SEM) – all aimed at helping you earn greater visibility in search results.
Although you do have to pay for SEM, you usually pay for each click, as opposed to a large upfront investment. This approach is cost-effective, because you're only paying for what you get. You can also set a limit, so that you only spend a set amount. Once your spending reaches that amount, your ad turns off.Is SEM paid or unpaid? ›
SEO is sometimes used as an umbrella term that includes SEM, but because SEM refers strictly to paid advertising, they are actually separate. SEM is about getting traffic via paid ads, and SEO is more about acquiring, monitoring and analyzing organic (unpaid) traffic patterns.Why is SEM so important? ›
SEM is essential because it ensures that your target audience sees the content you create in their search query results. You're not left competing for organic space, as your advertisements are shown at the top of the first SERP page. You can effectively reach your target audience, drive traffic, and boost conversions.What are the benefits of using SEM? ›
- SEM grabs the attention of your audience at the right time. Research shows that 90 percent of people who research online know exactly what they're looking for. ...
- It's easy and quick to implement. ...
- It's measurable. ...
- It helps raise brand awareness.
Search Engine Marketing refers to a variety of techniques and strategies a company can use to generate more visitor traffic from search engine results pages (SERPS) to a website. The goal of SEM is to promote a website's visibility using paid search, contextual advertising, and organic search rankings.How can I improve my SEM performance? ›
- Deliver Value Across The Decision Journey. ...
- Align Your Campaign & Business Goals. ...
- Expand Your Marketing Funnel. ...
- Take Audience Targeting To The Next Level. ...
- Lift Other Investments With Paid Search. ...
- Fight & Win The Battle For Paid Search Budget Share.
- Analysis of the Product, Service, or Landing Page. ...
- Using Keyword Tools. ...
- Filtering and Selecting. ...
- Quality Score. ...
- Impression Share. ...
- Click-Through Rate (CTR) ...
- Click-Through Rate (CTR) The click-through rate showcases how often viewers of your ad end up clicking it. ...
- Conversion Rate. ...
- Cost Per Click (CPC) ...
- Quality Score. ...
- Impressions Share. ...
- Cost Per Action (CPA) ...
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) ...
- Return On Ad Spend (ROAS)
Three Types of Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing can be categorized into three types. They is SEO, Search Engine Advertising, and Paid Submission.
Search engine marketing is considered by many to be the most efficient way to spend marketing dollars. Examples of search ad networks. The two primary search networks that SEM professionals target are Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) and the Bing Ads.What is SEM strategy? ›
SEM, or search engine marketing, is the strategy of obtaining traffic through payment positioning, mostly through ads. However, both SEO and SEM go hand in hand, since both strategies are often used simultaneously.Is SEM pay per click? ›
SEM is an umbrella term that encompasses PPC but is not limited to only this form of advertising. It references activity that intends to improve how easy it is to find a website through a search engine. SEM is both paid and unpaid, PPC, or organic traffic.How long does it take to learn SEO and SEM? ›
If you can learn SEO for a couple of hours every day, then you can master the basics of SEO within 4-8 weeks and land your first SEO job in 3-6 months. If you can learn SEO full-time, then you can master the basics even within 1-2 weeks.Are Google ads SEM? ›
Google ads is a type of SEM
Google Ads is practically the gold standard for SEM. An effective SEM campaign always prioritizes running a successful Google Ads campaign. By virtue of millions of visitors and billions of search queries, the potential of Google is limitless.
Around 65% of small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, also known as search engine marketing (SEM). What do these companies pay for SEM services, though? On average, SMBs spend $9000 to $10,000 per month on SEM, which includes ad spend and management costs.Is SEO or SEM better? ›
SEM has immediate results, while SEO takes time to ramp up.
You also have the freedom to turn them on or off and tweak audiences if data shows there's less traffic during a certain period of time. With SEO, it can take months or even years, before your business begins to rank on the first page of search engines.
Investing in SEM, will not only increase your website traffic, but it can also positively impact your SEO efforts. The bottom line is that SEO and SEM help each other.What are the 4 components of the SEM? ›
- Tungsten (W) electron filament.
- Lanthanum hexaboride (LaB6) or Cerium hexaboride (CeB6)
- Field Emission Gun (FEG)
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the process of driving website traffic by purchasing ads on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Originally, SEM included all marketing activities on search engines (SEO & Search Ads), but over time, the industry has adopted the term to refer solely to paid search advertising.How SEM works step by step? ›
Scanning electron microscopy works by scanning a sample with electron beams. An electron gun fires these beams, which then accelerate down the column of the scanning electron microscope. During this action, the electron beams pass through a series of lenses and apertures, which act to focus it.How do you explain SEM? ›
SEM stands for scanning electron microscope. The SEM is a microscope that uses electrons instead of light to form an image. Since their development in the early 1950's, scanning electron microscopes have developed new areas of study in the medical and physical science communities.What is a SEM used for? ›
Scanning electron microscope (SEM) is one of the most widely used instrumental methods for the examination and analysis of micro- and nanoparticle imaging characterization of solid objects. One of the reasons that SEM is preferred for particle size analysis is due to its resolution of 10 nm, that is, 100 Å.What is SEM explain in brief? ›
A scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a type of microscope which uses a focused beam of electrons to scan a surface of a sample to create a high resolution image. SEM produces images that can show information on a material's surface composition and topography.How do I optimize my SEM ad campaign? ›
- What is search engine marketing? ...
- Find the best time of the day and increase the bid. ...
- Keyword and search queries relevant to the audience. ...
- Test conditional long-tail keywords in ad copies. ...
- eCommerce SEM tip: Use product feed testing to optimize product names.
- Quality Score and the Ad Rank Formula.
- Use Search Terms as Keywords.
- Work on your Ad Relevance.
- Use the Keyword Tool.
- Work on Improving your Website.
- Include Main Keywords in the Meta Tags of your Website.
- Figure out what to wear. ...
- Look appropriate and professional. ...
- Print out copies of your resume. ...
- Prepare a reference list. ...
- Test any needed tech. ...
- Pack your bag ahead of time. ...
- Figure out where you're going and how you're getting there.
- Learn How Search Engines Work. ...
- Develop the Core Skills. ...
- Understand How to Run and Present an Effective Competitor Analysis. ...
- Regularly Use and Refine Your SEO Knowledge. ...
- Pick an Area to Hone Your Expertise. ...
- Understand and Perfect How to Track SEO Performance. ...
- Build a Strong SEO Network.
While Headline 1 is about attracting the attention of potential customers, Headline 2 is about engaging them. To accomplish this, you can clearly state what action you expect from them with a clear call to action, such as Contact us, Buy now, Make an appointment or even Call us, depending on your campaign's objectives.How do you plan a SEM strategy? ›
- Define your goals. What do you want people to do once they clicked on your PPC ad? ...
- Assess the competition. ...
- Pick your PPC platform. ...
- Research keywords. ...
- Set a budget. ...
- Write the copy. ...
- Build a landing page. ...
- Keep testing and iterating.
Some evidence exists that simple SEM models could be meaningfully tested even if sample size is quite small (Hoyle, 1999; Hoyle and Kenny, 1999; Marsh and Hau, 1999), but usually, N = 100–150 is considered the minimum sample size for conducting SEM (Tinsley and Tinsley, 1987; Anderson and Gerbing, 1988; Ding, Velicer, ...Which SEM is the best? ›
- SE Ranking.
- Google Ads.
SEMRush. As one of the leading SEM tools, SEMRush helps digital marketers lay a strong foundation for their SEM account. Keyword research, keyword rank tracking, competitor backlink audits, site audits, traffic analysis, and page metrics are just a few of the things you can do with this platform.What are the two main types of SEM? ›
SEM is divided into two parts. One is SEO, which aims to generate more organic traffic for a particular domain. And the other is the investment in sponsored links. We are talking about the ads that are displayed on Google and other platforms.Is SEM only on Google? ›
Most search engines have an ad platform for search engine marketing. The most well-known (and effective) platform to use is Google AdWords. Bing Ads and Yahoo Search Ads are also both SEM platforms that you can use.Is Google Ads SEO or SEM? ›
PPC ads that use Google, Bing, or other search engines fall under the paid SEM category. Most advertising platforms, including Google Ads, work with real-time bids. You must understand the auction process of the advertisement platform you select.What does SEM mean in marketing? ›
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a digital marketing strategy used to increase the visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Paid search advertising is a type of digital marketing strategy that allows companies to pay search engines to place their ads higher on relevant search engine results pages (SERPs) with the goal of driving traffic to their site. Pay-per-click — or PPC advertising — is the most common form of paid search.What does SEM meaning? ›
Search engine marketing is a method of promotion and advertising to help companies' content rank higher among search engine traffic. Like search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) helps companies improve the way content is ranked by search engines.What does SEM stand for in search? ›
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) meaning: SEM describes the paid advertising appearing on a search engine results page. SEM involves buying PPC (pay-per-click) ads that display among the search engine results. Such ads may be placed through Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising (for Bing), or other search engines.What is the benefit of SEM? ›
SEM is a very effective way for businesses to reach specific customers based on their search intentions. You can make your ads appear only to consumers who are searching using keywords closely related to your products or services.How can I improve my SEM? ›
- Keyword Research. Like SEO, keyword research is essential for SEM, so it's important to use long-tail keywords in your digital content and advertisements to drive customers to targeted landing pages. ...
- Search Retargeting. ...
- Mobile Optimization. ...
SEM is an umbrella term that encompasses PPC but is not limited to only this form of advertising. It references activity that intends to improve how easy it is to find a website through a search engine. SEM is both paid and unpaid, PPC, or organic traffic.Do you pay for SEO or SEM? ›
SEO is using non-paid tactics to drive traffic to your website organically. It's a slower process (usually three to six months) but can pay long-term dividends. SEM, including PPC, is the use of paid search platforms to drive targeted traffic to your website. It requires a budget but can drive results very quickly.How do you use SEM? ›
But in order to connect to your target you need to:
- Speak to different goals and challenges among the same audience.
- Speak to different audiences.
- Test various messaging with the same audience.
Structural equation modeling (SEM) is a set of statistical techniques used to measure and analyze the relationships of observed and latent variables. Similar but more powerful than regression analyses, it examines linear causal relationships among variables, while simultaneously accounting for measurement error.What is SEM with an example? ›
Internet marketing refers to marketing efforts that businesses and other organizations do solely over the Internet. With search engine marketing, businesses pay for their adverts to appear alongside search queries in search engines. Google, Yahoo, Safari, and Bing, for example, are search engines.
Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is the most popular platform for SEM. While SEM refers to the method of advertising, Google Ads is an SEM platform where you can create paid advertising that will appear on Google's search results.Is SEM the same as Google Ads? ›
SEM is an umbrella term for PPC
SEM includes everything related to running paid ad campaigns. While Google Ads is arguably the most popular format of SEM, other options such as Yahoo and Bing are also a part of an SEM strategy.