What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

What SEM is, what isn't, and how it works in Google.

Search Engine Marketing / SEM

Search Engine Marketing is one of the most prominent forms of internet marketing. Businesses across the globe – and anyone with a website – heavily depend on it to spread the word and find web traffic.

It’s a relatively complex topic as so many things come under the heading of SEM. So, consider this blog post your one-stop-shop for all things search engine marketing. You’ll learn exactly what it is, what strategies are used, and the benefits of good SEM.

What is SEM & how does it work?

As the name suggests, SEM is all about search engines. The whole aim of it is to improve the way a website is marketed in search engines. Primarily, this concerns the search engine ranking of the site – the higher up the page it is, the more likely you are to receive clicks.

SEM works by utilizing a range of different tactics to improve your ranking position for your desired keyword searches. This involves both organic ideas and paid marketing techniques as well.

What are the leading search engine marketing strategies?

Perhaps the best way to make sense of SEM is to look at the strategies used:


Search engine optimization is an integral part of SEM. Some people believe they’re separate things, but SEO helps market your business through search engines by improving your organic ranking position.

With SEO, you essentially design a website that’s optimized for search engines. This means it’s set up in a way that makes it easy for search engine bots to crawl through so they can rank the pages higher in the results.

Optimizing a website requires lots of different techniques on its own, but you can usually split things into two categories:

  • On-site SEO: this includes everything you do on your site that improves the SEO. We’re talking about the content on there, keyword tags, internal links, responsive web design, fast loading speeds, etc.
  • Off-site SEO: this relates to things done off-site that will boost your search ranking. Primarily, we’re looking at link building here. This involves creating high value backlinks to your website, which shows Google it’s a trustworthy source of information.

PPC / Paid Advertising

The other technique is PPC or pay-per-click marketing. This is what most people associate with SEM as it involves paying for adverts to promote your website in search engines. The concept is fairly straightforward: your Google ads get shown before the organic listings, so they’re the first thing people see when searching.

This type of paid search works by bidding on adverts. You do this by bidding on specific keywords that you believe are most valuable to your business. Think about the keywords most people will search for if they’re looking for something that your website provides. The person with the highest bid gets their website in the first advertising spot, then the second highest, and so on.

They’re called PPC ads because you pay per click. What this means is that, if someone clicks on your Google ads, you pay Google for it. The amount you bid is the amount you pay for every click. So, in essence, you’re paying for website traffic.

The importance of SEM trends

As an SEM marketer, it’s vital to always be up-to-date with all the latest trends and technology relating to search engine marketing. Different things are developed all the time that make life easier for search marketers, and if you’re not updated as a digital marketing agency, then you can fall behind the rest of the competition.

As an example, software has been brought out that automatically bids on Google Ads for you. It increases the chances of winning bids and getting your website in the sponsored results, and you don’t have to devote any time to it. What’s more, where SEO is concerned, Google updates the best practices all the time, which means that specific things will lead to a better ranking. The most recent example of this is content. Google made content one of the key ranking factors a couple of years ago, so SEM marketers all started making content the prime thing to focus on.

If you’re not staying up-to-date with all the trends and technology, then you’ll struggle to see SEM success. Other people are utilizing these trends to improve their ranking performance and get more exposure on search engines. As a result, they steal more of your website traffic, so your site suffers!

The main advantages of good SEM

So, you should be aware of what SEM is, what strategies are used, and why you need to stay on top of all the current trends. But, what are the main advantages of good SEM?

Boost Brand Awareness: with good SEM, it means that more people are aware of your brand. Think about what happens when you search for anything online; you only pay attention to the top few results on the page. So, if you use SEM to get into those top results, there’s more chance of people seeing your brand and building up recognition of it.

Increase Website Traffic: this is perhaps the main aim of SEM as it’s designed to help you get more relevant website traffic, and these visitors will hopefully convert into clients (or leads). Again, this comes from the fact that you rise up the rankings and become one of the first results people see. As such, they’re more likely to click on your link and get taken to your website – compared to if you had poor SEM and weren’t even on the first results page.

Gain Targeted Leads: SEM lets you advertise your website to an audience that should already be somewhat interested in what you have to offer. This is because you’re targeting specific keywords, so you’re basically pushing your brand into the eye line of your target audience. This results in targeted leads that are easier to convert, so you could see a boost in sales as well.

Incredible ROI: by investing in SEM, you will see direct results. Therefore, it has the advantage of offering a high return on investment – particularly when compared to other marketing tactics.

At Digital Shadow, we’ve always been on the forefront of SEM, SEO and guerilla marketing tactics. We’ve delivered many successful campaigns, using the latest tools and following the most up-to-date marketing strategies.

Interested? Get in touch!

After reading this guide, it should be clear what SEM is and how it’s beneficial. When it comes to boosting brand awareness and gaining web traffic, there aren’t many options that can rival it. So, make SEM a significant part of your ongoing marketing strategy.

Related Posts

Leave a comment

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.