Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing

If digital marketing confuses you and if you don’t know what exactly it means this blog will answer your questions. You may find them sounding the same or having similar definitions, but they are different yet interrelated. Search Engine Marketing is one of them.

This article aims to educate you about Search Engine Marketing, what it means, what plan you need to follow to execute it successfully, and how to boost your business growth using paid search marketing approach.

Search Engine Marketing – Definition

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) drives website traffic and increases search visibility by running paid advertisements on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Initially, people used Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) interchangeably. SEM was used to define compensated hunt actions and optimize the website content and backlinks for better results. But as the technology advanced and experts defined the scope of each marketing effort, now Search Engine Marketing is compensated search marketing. SEM must have nothing to do with display advertisements. Display paid advertisements use third-party websites as advertisement delivery platforms rather than search engines.

Businesses want to grow and reach as many new customers as possible. As a part of their marketing operation, companies pay search engines for their advertisements to appear as SERP hunt results. To achieve that, brands target specific keywords. Keywords are the terms which when typed in the search bar of any search engine, will make the advertisement appear in front of the person using that keyword. If individuals click on the advertisement, only then will the brand be charged.

You must have come across such hunt advertisements while searching for something on a search engine like Google. They can be found on any search results page having an “Advertisement” nomination to let you identify that it is a paid installation and not a hunt result.

Search Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), & Pay-Per-Click (PPC) – How to Tell Them Apart

To understand the difference between multiple marketing terms related to search engines, we need to understand what each term means and how it differs from the other.

Search Marketing

Search marketing is a broader phrase that encompasses any tactic employed to maximize a brand’s visibility on hunt engines, boost search engine ranking, or drive more traffic to a website by appearing more frequently on search engine results pages. It can have a natural SEO plan, or a paid SEM approach, or both.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is search marketing that involves efforts to improve a brand’s natural visibility in search. SEO is all about earning a prominent natural search installation rather than paying for installation on SERPs. SEO also involves the best use of keywords for attracting search crawlers, but the resulting natural search results don’t have an “Advertisement” nomination. By employing best SEO practices, a brand earns a place on SERP, and they don’t pay for it.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing

Under the topic of SEM, alternative terminology is pay-per-click marketing or PPC. PPC is also a compensated marketing approach used by brands to create a digital advertisement and get charged every time they click on it. If the PPC advertisements get displayed in hunt results, they get considered SEM, but PPC isn’t limited to SEM only; it can also suggest a type of display advertisement or social media and marketing.

When the approach of PPC get used on platforms other than search engines like Facebook Advertisements or Promoted Tweets, they are no longer a part of SEM. PPC also encompasses Google display advertisements, a type of paid advertisement in a banner form on a webpage.

Search Engine Marketing – Fundamentals

Search Engine Marketing fundamentals include:

SEM Platforms
SEM Keywords
SEM Targeting
SEM Account Structure
SEM Advertisement Copy
SEM Advertisement Auction

Let’s discuss each of these fundamentals in detail.

SEM Platforms

Any hunt engine where a brand can place search advertisements is termed as an SEM platform. The search advertisements are displayed when end users perform a hunt using a specific keyword. The most popular and widely used SEM platforms are:

Google Advertisements

One of the most popular SEM platforms is Google Advertisements. Every day, hundreds of thousands of online end users use Google searches, making any business reach out to a more extensive set of audiences.

Bing Advertisements

Bing claims to be the second most popular hunt engine. It connects with more than 3 million online searchers that Google has missed. Bing Advertisements partners with other sites like MSN and Yahoo and MSN to help connect brands with searchers who aren’t using Google for search.

SEM Keywords

SEM keywords are the phrases and terms that you target in your SEM operations. End users see the paid advertisement when they hunt for those keywords. For instance, if your SEM operation targets the keyword “marketing manager,” your advertisement will appear when an end user types “marketing manager” in the search bar on an SEM platform.

While setting up an SEM operation, you select the terms and phrases your target and/or avoid. Following are the four main types of keywords that can be used in any SEM operation.

Broad Parallel Keywords

In this type of SEM keyword, you target multiple variations of a term, including singular or plural forms, similar phrases, misspellings, synonyms, or stemming of the target keyword. For instance, when targeting broad parallel keyword marketing managers, an operation may also target responsibilities of marketing manager, online marketing manager, marketing management strategies, etc.

Phrase Parallel Keywords

In this type of SEM keyword, you target the exact phrase. You also include any phrase that has words that come after or before the target keyword. For instance, when targeting the phrase parallel keyword marketing manager, an operation may also target the best marketing manager, the responsibilities of a marketing manager, hire an online marketing manager, etc.

Exact Parallel Keywords

In this type of SEM keyword, you target words that are closely linked to the target term. This includes singular or plural forms, misspellings, abbreviations, stemming, paraphrases, reordered words, or relevant words with the same hunt objective as the exact parallel keyword. For instance, when targeting the exact parallel keyword marketing manager, an operation may also target marketing managers, etc.

Negative Keywords

In this type of SEM keyword, you eliminate words that you don’t intend to target. Negative keywords are variations of phrase parallel, broad parallel, and exact parallel keywords that you don’t plan to add to your operation. These terms may not be related to the hunt intent of your operation, the target term, or advertisement copy yet semantically related to your keywords. The examples of negative keywords for the target term marketing manager may include the salary of a marketing manager or marketing manager course. If the advertisement intends to target companies looking to hire a marketing manager, such terms may not be relevant, and you need to exclude them from the operation.

SEM Targeting

SEM keywords tell a search platform when to display your advertisements. SEM targeting works one step ahead. Through SEM targeting, you assign additional parameters for search platforms to show your paid advertisement and when to show it.

Location Targeting

You define a zip code or a geographic area and instruct the hunt platform to show your advertisements to people belonging to that targeted location only.

Advertisement Schedule Targeting

You define times of the day or definite days of the week when you want the hunt platform to show your advertisement.


Demographic Targeting

You define a specific demographic based on gender, age, and interests and direct the hunt platform to show your advertisement to only those people who fit that demographic category.

Device Targeting

You can define which device you want your advertisement to be shown, such as desktops, mobile phones, or tablets.

SEM Account Structure

SEM operations are set up and organized using SEM Account Structure. You can group up relevant keywords and themes to create operations within your SEM account. It comprises of:

Within an account structure, the highest level is operation definition which has its budget, goal, bid approach, targeting settings, etc. To organize accounts into more prominent themes, operations are used. They manage based on services, specific products, target audience types, promotions, etc. For instance, a hunt platform that parallel marketing managers with clients might have two operations, one to target end users looking for marketing managers and the other to target end users who are marketing managers themselves.

Within an operation, you can define advertisement groups. Advertisement groups break the operation into even more specific themes. Generally, operations have several different advertisement groups. Exceeding seven (07) to ten (10) advertisement groups in an operation is not recommended. For example, the operation targeting marketing managers might have two (02) advertisement groups: one targeting part-time marketing managers and the other targeting full-time marketing managers.

Keywords and Advertisements
For each advertisement group, you define a specific set of target keywords and advertisement copy. They are set to target the advertisement group’s particular theme and audience. Experts recommend to have no more than twenty (20) keywords and two (02) to three (03) advertisements per advertisement group. For example, the advertisement group targeting full-time marketing managers might use keywords that directly address marketing managers looking for full-time work. In contrast, the advertisement group for part-time marketing managers would use language and target keywords about a part-time job.

SEM Advertisement Copy

SEM advertisement copy mimics natural hunt results for the most part, but they have options to show extra information too. A standard advertisement usually includes:

  • Two Headlines
  • A Description
  • A Website URL

You can also add:

  • Callout extensions
  • Message extensions
  • Sitelink extensions
  • Price extensions
  • Callout extensions
  • Call extensions
  • Structured snippet extensions
  • Location extensions
  • Advertiser ratings

Some SEM platforms offer supplementary hunt advertisement formats, including product carousels.

The SEM Advertisement Auction

Setting up an SEM operation doesn’t mean your compensated advertisement always shows up when individual types your target keyword in the search bar. It has to compete with other brands targeting the exact keywords. SEM platforms have a built-in system to decide if and when to show your paid advertisement. This built-in system of SEM platforms is called an Advertisement Auction. The following three factors govern this system:

The amount you are willing to pay when individual clicks on your company’s advertisement will define how often the SEM platform will show your paid advertisement.

Quality Score
The SEM platform assigns a rating to each advertisement using a Quality Score. Although there is no formula to calculate Quality Score, it is speculated to be based on the keywords’ relevance to the advertisement group, your click-through rate (CTR), the relevancy of landing page to keywords, and historical advertisement performance.

Advertisement Rank
SEM platforms give your paid advertisement a rating depending on Max CPC Bid and Quality Score to specify where it will appear on hunt engine results pages (SERPs). To achieve a better hunt paid advertisement installation, it must score a higher Advertisement Rating. The Advertisement Rating can be numerically represented as:

Advertisement Ranking is the product of Max CPC Bid & Quality Score

A critical takeaway from the above formula is that brands with a great Quality Score can beat brands with a loftier max CPC bid.

The higher the value of above -mentioned three factors, the more chances to win a better paid advertisement’s installation on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Search Engine Marketing – Approach

Following are SEM approaches for a powerful Search Engine Marketing Approach:

Develop a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Plan

Planning is the key to any successful compensated hunt advertisement operation. It is essential to strategically document the process to make sure everyone’s on the same page. This will also help to make the overall operation progress measurable.

Research and Select Keywords

Researching and selecting keywords is undoubtedly the most crucial part of your SEM operation laying the foundations for your marketing efforts and determines how effortlessly you can reach out to your target audience. Keyword testing and optimization is always an ongoing effort since competitors are constantly shifting strategies, coming and going.

Create Search Advertisement Copy

After selecting the best keywords, you should now focus on enticing your audience to click your advertisement through persuasive copywriting skills.

Optimize Paid Search Operations

SEM operation optimization has to be an ongoing process and should not be restricted to any one point in time. You need to test and improve at regular intervals to keep your strategies competitive.

Build a Relevant Landing Page

Creating an optimized landing page is alternative essential part of SEM approach. Your landing page’s message should cover the entire scope of your advertisement and should be convincing enough to convert the visitor.

Define Approach for Keyword Bidding

Employing the right bidding approach tailored to drive a specific metric can help a lot with your goals. It is recommended to stick with default manual keyword bidding. Over time you can test and evolve your bidding approach to make it more profitable.

Set up Account Structure and Budgeting

Your operation’s overall efficiency depends on how you set up your budgeting and account structure from the very beginning. Be careful about it!

Measure SEM Operation Performance

You cannot afford to throw money down the drain, so you need to track the progress of your operation. Your overall goal determines what metrics to keep an eye on.

The world of Search Engine Marketing is hugely competitive, so it is vital to arm yourself with the proper knowledge before experimenting in the field. We hope that this article must have added a lot to your understanding.