What Is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Mislav author

Mislav Raguž

Content Writer

Most of you ask yourself what is search engine marketing. Well, it refers to the process of increasing website traffic with ad purchasing on search engines. It’s currently very popular because of the SERP population. People use the internet even for several hours a day, so, it makes sense that everyone wants a higher position in search engines. Therefore, people utilize SEM initiative to get their goal achieved. Search engine marketing includes different activities like PPC, CPC, CPM, Paid search advertising and Paid search ads. It’s hard to perform SEM strategy without these activities. Also, people often equalize PPC and SEM. There’s a difference which will be clarified in the paragraph below.

What is search engine marketing to the digital world shows the info of money spent in the previous three years? Businesses really invest big amounts of money for SEM because that’s the biggest possible stage among social media to be spotted and to gain more traffic to the website.

Money spent on SEM over the past three years

Picture 1. Money spent in the last three years for SEM

Once you set the SEM strategy, you need to track it just like any other strategy results. The best platform on the market for such activities is definitely Google AdWords. Its interface and functionalities are completely user-friendly. Also, this platform provides the best results of the measurement. Other platforms might give you results that aren’t 100% true. That’s why Google’s platform is the best out there to track the SEM campaign.

For the better understanding of SEM, research these terms:

  • Impressions – this refers only on how many times your ad was shown on the screen. It doesn’t matter whether the visitor saw it or not.
  • CTR (Click-through rates) – The number of clicks on the ad that led to your site.
  • CPC (Cost per Click) – an amount of money you pay when someone clicks on the ad
  • CPM (Cost per million impressions) – this is usually set when you’ve got highly set goals. Practically, you pay just to be seen.

Benefits of Search Engine Marketing

When we talk about the benefits of search engine marketing, there are lots of them. It makes sense when you think about how digital marketing grows. If there weren’t many benefits, most of the businesses wouldn’t pay such attention to all these attributes of digital marketing. We’ll mention some benefits of search engine marketing and you can convince yourself that it’s true through the campaign.

Higher brand awareness

It takes some time to get the higher ranking in Google. Even some researches from Google say that it can take up to one year for a quality website. As well, it’s not just about paying to get position on top of search engines. Your strategy must be set well and it also depends on your competition. Therefore, it’s not that easy to get the top position with SEM.

But, once you get the position you want, you’ll surely notice, especially through revenue growth. That’s where SEM impacts the most.

Impact on revenue

Just like we said in the previous paragraph, SEM has a huge impact on revenue. If you establish a good strategy and copy, a number of sales will probably grow on a daily basis. With good Google AdWords managing, ROI will be more than satisfying.

SEM grows in harmony with businesses

With time, how your business grows, your budget also grows. So, it means that you can invest more in your SEM campaign which will gain more traffic on website and sales. As well, remove the ads that don’t provide the results and bring you money. That’s not what you need in your campaigns.

The bright side in Google AdWords is that you can set daily budgets. That way, there probably won’t be any surprises for large unexpected costs.

Biggest stage for reaching your audience

Maybe you know the fact that any moment of the day, 93% of people are connected on the internet. That’s something that is really fascinating. But not to go too far from the topic, it’s logical that advertising in search engines is more than effective. It drives you more traffic on your website more than any other source.

Search engines are used to help people find what they want. Hence, when they search for something in your domain, with top position, most likely they’ll click on your site. This is what you want to achieve with your campaign.

Strengthening the name of a brand

Once you get your name on top of search engines, the mass of people will see the name of your brand and it will be remembered. That’s what you want to achieve, to be recognized by huge amounts of people. Also, when you reach a bigger amount of your customers, you need to take care of them and make them happy with your product or service. That’s one way to establish a good brand voice.

Some experts say that it takes 7-13 touching points of customers with some brand to remember you and recognize on other sites. So, each time they see you on social media, newspaper, etc., they’ll recognize you.

Reaching the target audience

With search engine marketing, it’s easier to target the audience you thought. As well, investing in ads on Google doesn’t cost you anything until someone clicks on it. When a visitor clicks he increases traffic. Therefore, we can say it’s sort of a cycle.

 Don’t invest too much money because it’s too risky. But, think about how much you could handle and invest the money smart. It will result with a better attraction of users.

Getting in front of competitors

If your search engine marketing strategy is good and tops you in search engines, it means that no one is above you. This is a huge advantage in front of competitors, because what else can outstrip a #1 in the Google search engine.

One of the blunders in SEM strategies is overpaying ads that don’t provide the results it should. That’s throwing money and if your competitors do that, take advantage of it and leave them behind you. That’s a chance you shouldn’t miss.

Less expensive than traditional advertising

Why is this so effective? Simply, because you pay some amount of money per action, view, click. Basically, you can control your investment. In traditional advertising, you invest around million dollars to reach 10 thousand people. That’s a way of advertising that can result as a failure. With SEM strategy, you focus on a certain segment and you’re increasing a conversion rate.

Also, if you see your campaign as unsuccessful, you can always change your budget and investments. In traditional advertising, once you give someone money, you can’t get it back. As well, you’re bound by some contract. There’s a huge difference between these two ways of advertising.


SEO and SEM are two completely different entities. Don’t equalize them. The difference is that SEO’s main goal is to optimize the site in order to grow organic traffic. Unlike SEO, SEM does pay ads to attract and gain new customers. SEO’s focus is on keywords, link building, content, domain rating, metadata, etc. SEM has nothing to do with it. The link between them is keywords because in search engine marketing you pay for better SERP for certain keyword. Whereas in SEO, around certain keyword you build a whole page to rank in search engine. There are similarities, but they are two different terms. Thinking this is the same is one of the mistakes that lead you to failure.

Which one do you need?

This is a very common question in the digital world. No, you don’t need them both, but if you decide on both initiatives, your leads and conversions will considerably increase. But, what is essential is SEO. That’s something you should always have your focus on. If you have difficulties with ranking in search engines, then you should consider SEM. Moreover, SEO is actually free.

Search engine marketing can speed up the process of better ranking in search engines and that’s what is its biggest value. You’ll have a better SERP compared to the competition, but it costs you money. Sometimes it’s profitable, sometimes the strategy is bad so you won’t profit from it. However, it’s always welcome in your business if you have the resources to maintain this kind of advertising.

Difference Between SEM and PPC

The difference between these two terms is that PPC is an advertising model where the main goal is to direct traffic on the site. For this model, an advertiser pays the sum of money for each click on the ad. You simply need to define your budget and set what sum you’ll pay for each click. Also, it helps in reaching out beyond the existing networks, to get into new highly targeted customers through search engine ads. Unlike PPC, search engine marketing is a whole process that contains PPC as just one of the activities.

The Role of SEM in the Digital World

Search engine marketing is becoming more popular every day even though SEO is still essential in every digital business. It grows fast because of its efficiency and fast improving to the top position in search engines. It brings plenty of benefits like better brand awareness, expanding target audience, people recognize you more often, etc. But, what’s the “problem” here is that it costs. Some business can afford search engine marketing, some don’t, but those who implement this strategy probably will succeed.

People often equalize search engine marketing with SEO or even PPC but it’s different. The difference between SEM and SEO is that SEO organically gains visitors on the site, while SEM requires money investments. When we talk about PPC, it’s just one of the activities in search engine marketing. Therefore, don’t equalize them because it’s not the same.

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What Is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)? was last modified: April 10th, 2019 by Antonio Prsec