Search engine marketing

What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a digital marketing strategy used to increase the visibility of a website on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Although the industry term used to refer to both organic search activities, such as search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search activities, it now refers almost exclusively to paid search engine advertising.

Search engine marketing is also alternatively called paid search or pay per click (PPC).

Why is SEM important?

With an increasing number of consumers researching and purchasing products online, search engine marketing has become a crucial online marketing strategy for increasing the reach of a business.

In fact, most new visitors to a website find it by querying a search engine.

In search engine marketing, advertisers only pay for impressions that translate into visits, which makes it an efficient way for a business to spend its money on marketing. As an added bonus, each visitor improves the website’s ranking in organic search results.

Since consumers enter search queries with the intention of finding information of a commercial nature, they are in an excellent frame of mind to make a purchase, compared to other sites, such as social networks, where users do not search explicitly for something.

Search marketing reaches consumers exactly at the right time: when they are open to new information. Unlike most digital advertising, PPC advertising is not intrusive and does not interrupt your tasks.

The results are immediate with the SEM. It is arguably the fastest way to drive traffic to a website.

How SEM works

Search engines use complicated algorithms to ensure that the most relevant results are returned for each search, including location and other available information.

In paid search advertising, sponsored ads appear at the top and side of search engine results pages for more visibility and prominence than organic results.

Let’s say you are a customer looking for a product or service online. You go to a search engine and type in your search terms (also known as keywords).

On the search results page, you will find multiple advertisements for businesses whose keywords match your search.

These ads appear prominently on the page, along with other search listings that match your keywords. Paid ads are highly relevant to your specific search, so you are likely to click on them.

Let’s now see how SEM campaigns work from the seller’s perspective.

SEM networks are self-service operations. Once the marketer selects a network, he can launch a campaign in a short time.

When setting up a campaign in an SEM network, the seller must

  • Conduct keyword research and select a set of keywords related to your website or product;
  • Select a geographic location where the ad will be displayed;
  • Create a text-based ad to show in search results;
  • Bid on the price they are willing to pay for each click on your ad.

Text-only ads are easy to produce. Advertisers enter a headline, ad body text, a call to action, and a URL for the hyperlink.

Search engine marketing is considered by many to be the most efficient way to spend money on marketing.

Examples of search ad networks

The two main search networks that SEM professionals target are Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) and Bing Ads.

Google AdWords is actually two networks: The Google Search Network and the Google Display Network. The former network consists exclusively of search-related websites that are owned by Google, while the latter includes properties such as YouTube, Blogger, and Gmail. Bing Ads allows customers to purchase ads on both the Yahoo and Bing website networks.

Although Google Ads is a much larger network (about twice the size), prices are usually lower in Bing Ads. Marketers can rank higher for a competitive keyword for less than what they get on Google. And some report that click-through rates are higher, too.

How A / B Testing Can Supplement SEM

Since you are already making an investment in search engine marketing to drive traffic to your website, it is a worthwhile effort to optimize that traffic for conversions and increase the efficiency of your spending.

A / B testing of your landing pages is an easy way to maximize your spending, either by optimizing average order value or revenue per page.

Optimizing your landing page can increase your quality index with search engine marketing networks, thus lowering your average CPC.

Clicking365 – and other similar platforms – can help you easily structure and implement your A / B testing, delivering real-time results to give you confidence in your business decisions. Clicking365 has integrations with popular ad networks like Google Adwords and Facebook that make setting up ad-related experiments quick and easy.

Search marketing is the process of gaining search engine traffic and visibility through paid and unpaid efforts.

Search marketing encompasses:

  • SEO: Gain Traffic Through Unpaid or Free Listings
  • SEM: Buying Traffic Through Paid Search Listings

Originally called “search engine marketing”, the shorter phrase “search marketing” is now often used as the umbrella term for SEO and SEM. The longer phrase “search engine marketing” – or SEM – is now commonly used to describe paid search activities.

Yes, we know it can get confusing, but this is how things have evolved. Our article, Does it keep adding SEM = SEO + CPC? explains evolution in more depth.

For those who want to learn more about SEO or SEM, check out our guides below:

  • What are SEM and paid search marketing
  • What is SEO / search engine optimization?

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