Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a way for your business to gain website traffic through purchasing ads on search engines. You see, when your customers or prospects search for something using a search engine such as Google, Yahoo or Bing – they get two kinds of results:
- Organic results (free to your business – based on the success of your search engine optimisation)
- Ads (paid search i.e. a customer lands on your page as a result of ads you have purchased)
SEM vs. SEO
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a much broader term than Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). You see whilst SEO aims to provide better organic search results for your business, SEM on the other hand uses the search engines to promote your website or business to online customers via advertisements with the aim of sending targeted traffic to your site.
Most ads are purchased on search engines using Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. Google Adwords is a favourite amongst search marketers – followed by Bing Ads (which also services a lot of ads on Yahoo). You will also find a number of PPC advertising options on popular social networks.
It’s important to realise that SEM and SEO are not competing services (in fact, SEO is considered a subset of SEM). If you want to conduct business online then it’s important to be visible in both organic searches and advertised links.
Each search engine offers useful SEM resources for small businesses including getting started guides as well as helpful tutorials and tips about how to get started with PPC ads. It’s worth taking time to look up Google Adwords, Bing Ads and Yahoo Search Ads.
Google AdWords released a video earlier this year explaining how AdWords PPC auctions actually work.
At the end of the day, always make certain you monitor the success of your ads and never pay for ads or keywords that don’t give you a return on your investment.