What is SEM in Digital Marketing?

Jun 1, 2022 | Agency | 0 comments

When you think about marketing your business, the first things that come to mind might be things like media coverage, billboard ads, print advertising, TV and radio ads, direct mail marketing, and word of mouth. However, there’s one big piece of the puzzle that your marketing strategy could be missing: digital marketing.

Digital advertising is a type of advertising where you market your business online. You may also hear it referred to as online advertising or online marketing.

There are loads of reasons that digital marketing is one marketing strategy that you and your business can’t afford to not be taking advantage of. It’s great for generating new leads, increasing sales, building brand awareness, and growing customer retention and brand loyalty.

Under the broader digital marketing umbrella, there are several different strategies, including social media ads, display ads, and email marketing. You can find out more about these different digital marketing strategies here.

Today though, we’re going to be focusing on SEM, which is short for search engine marketing.

Search engine marketing (SEM) revolves around improving how your website ranks in search engine results pages (SERP). Users searching the internet for a particular search term or topic are more likely to click on one of the first results they see. That’s why the goal of search engine marketing is to ensure your web pages show up as one of the first results for relevant keywords and search queries.

There are two main types of search engine marketing: paid advertising and search engine optimisation (SEO).

Paid advertising

Paid advertising involves taking out paid advertisements with search engines. For example, if you wanted to appear at the top of relevant Google search results, you might pay Google to display your website as one of the first results.

You might also take out Google ads on other web pages. With Google ads, you take part in ad auctions for the keywords or search terms you want your paid ad to be displayed for. This helps you to display targeted ads to potential customers who are searching for businesses like yours.

Before taking out any kind of paid ad campaigns, it’s important that you do keyword research, and identify the specific search terms or keywords that your potential customers will be searching for. You’ll also want to identify negative keywords (i.e. keywords you don’t want your ads to be displayed for), as this will save you from paying for irrelevant clicks.

You might create a single ad to promote your business, products, and services. Alternatively, you might create several different ads based on a common goal or theme (known as ad groups).

Generally, you will be charged for paid advertising on a costs per click basis. This means that you will only be charged for the number of clicks that your ad actually receives. The cost per click will be determined based on the quality score Google assigns your ad, based on how relevant and high-quality it deems your ad to be.

Websites that have taken out paid advertising will have the word “Ad” next to their name when they show up in search results.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Whereas paid advertising involves paying for traffic, search engine optimisation involves generating unpaid (also known as organic) traffic.

There are several tactics that you might use as part of your search engine optimisation strategy. For example, you might publish high-quality blog posts or landing pages that contain relevant on-page keywords, which is an example of SEO-optimised content marketing. Alternatively, you might use descriptive metatags, and exchange backlinks to and from your site with other high authority websites. You can find out more about SEO strategies here.

Both types of search engine marketing come with their own pros and cons. The biggest and most obvious one is that SEO is free, whereas taking out paid advertising costs money. Likewise, SEO can often offer a greater return on investment (ROI) over paid advertising.

However, paid ads can often make it easier to strategically tailor ads to your desired demographic of potential customers, whereas SEO can be more challenging to target. Paid advertising can also be a good way to quickly gain a strategic advantage over your competitors, as SEO can be more time-consuming to achieve.

Whichever method you choose, both SEO and SEM can be a valuable part of your business’s digital marketing strategy. For many businesses, there are benefits to be had from adopting both kinds of marketing in your digital marketing strategy, which is an approach that we suggest to many of our clients.

If you’d like to find out more about how you could be integrating SEO and SEM into your business’s digital marketing strategy, find out more here.


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