What Is Search Engine Marketing? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

What Is Search Engine Marketing? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

by Sep 5, 2018Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, SEO Website Audits

Search engines are one of the most powerful tools available to a business. The thing is, not many business owners know how to use them! When you realize what search marketing is – and everything you can do with it – your audience grows significantly.

Search marketing puts you in front of new users every day. It creates the introductions and interactions you need to make more sales and create loyal customers.

If you don’t know much about website search engine marketing, keep reading.

What’s the Difference Between SEM and SEO?

The main thing to understand about Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is that it’s not the same as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). People confuse the two all the time, which seriously weakens their digital strategies.

SEO is an organic search strategy that is centered around content. It takes time to offer business owners the returns they’re looking for, and it’s not always the most dependable form of online marketing to use.

SEM, on the other hand, provides much faster, more reliable results. This is the digital marketing tool that allows you to run ads on search engines.

Every time a user searches for something related to your business, you’re able to bid for a spot on the results page (SERP). If the user clicks on it, your bid is charged. If the result comes up but the user decides to click elsewhere, your money isn’t spent.

How Does Search Engine Marketing Work?

The above definition of SEM is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s much more that goes into creating a successful SEM strategy.

The basic process, though, is as follows.

Step 1: Research and Choose Your Keywords

Keywords are the name of the game when creating your SEM campaign. You want to find the most effective, profitable keywords in your industry. These aren’t always the most popular, by the way.

Think about it: if all of your competitors are bidding on the same keywords (the most popular ones) the bidding process gets saturated. It’s hard to come out on top and end up on the results page unless you’re willing to bid a lot of money for each click.

That’s why it’s better to find strong keywords that you can bid on for less money. This helps you get the exposure you’re looking for in a cost-effective manner.

Step 2: Set Your Bids

Speaking of being cost-effective, the next step is to set your bids. Go through all the keywords you’ve researched and picked out and think about how much each one is worth (hint: Google tells you the max bids!).

Set a bidding strategy for how much you’d like to actually pay. The system will then charge you more than the next lowest bidder.

Keep in mind there’s a qualitative factor associated with your bids, too. Google takes the value of your ads into consideration, which can boost the success of your campaign without running your funds dry. In other words, the system is more likely to place your ad on a SERP it offers more value than another, even if the other bidder put more money into their campaign.

This doesn’t mean you can skimp on your bids, but it is helpful for small businesses who don’t have as much money to bid as their large, wealthy competitors.

Step 3: Analyze and Adjust

The final step to creating a strong SEM strategy is to analyze and adjust. Take a look at how your keyword bids are performing. Consider if there are opportunities to improve or if it’s best to keep doing what you’re doing.

More often than not, you’ll have to make small adjustments here and there to get better results. But, you shouldn’t have to start over from scratch to get the ROI you’re looking for!

The Top Benefits of SEM

It’s one thing to understand the differences between SEM and SEO and how SEM works, and it’s another to realize why SEM is so great. Here are three of the benefits this digital marketing strategy offers.


SEM is much faster than SEO. It’s something you can track the results of in real time instead of waiting to see if your strategy catches on.

This means you’re able to analyze and adapt the success of your digital strategy quickly. SEM keeps you sharp and ahead of the game, instead of scrambling to gain users and win traffic back should it ever dip.


Another benefit of SEM is the flexibility it offers. It takes a long time to fix a sub-par SEO campaign. Figuring out where an SEM strategy went wrong and fixing it, though, is a simpler process.

You can change your bidding and choose new keywords anytime you want. While it’s not smart to adjust these settings all the time, it does come in handy when you realize something’s wrong with your campaign. This saves you a significant amount of time and it helps you make up for lost efforts.

Measurable Results

The final benefit of using SEM is how easy it is to measure. Yes, SEO strategies can be measured too, but there is so much more to organic search than meets the eye. Paid search is more straightforward.

When you invest in SEM, you’re able to easily track where your money went and how well it was spent. You’re also able to understand user interactions and better prepare future strategies based on the data gathered.

Discover What Search Marketing Can Do for You

Stop reading about the possibilities of search marketing and start realizing the benefits for yourself. This is the digital marketing tool your business has been waiting for.

To learn more about how SEM works and get started with your own paid campaigns, click here.