Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising. SEM may incorporate search engine optimization (SEO), which adjusts or rewrites website content and site architecture to achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages to enhance pay per click (PPC) listings.
SEM, or search engine marketing, is the act of using paid strategies to increase search visibility. In the past, search engine marketing was a term used to describe both search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search. But now, it almost always refers only to paid search marketing.
With SEM, brands pay for ads to appear as search results on search engine results pages (SERPs). They target select keywords so that when a user searches for those terms, they see an ad from the brand. The brand is charged only if a user clicks on the ad.
How SEM works:
The advertiser picks relevant “keywords” or “key phrases” that they want their ads to show up for. The advertiser then states how much they’re willing to bid per click. When consumer searches trigger any of the associated keywords or phrases, ads will get shown/ranked dependant on who bids the most, along with several other variables. If the consumer clicks on an ad, the advertiser is charged for the click.
Search engines use complicated algorithms to ensure the most relevant results are returned for each search, including location and other available information.
In paid search advertising, sponsored ads appear at the top of and on the side of search engine results pages to gain more visibility and prominence than the organic results.
Let’s say that you are a customer looking for a product or service online. You go to a search engine and type in your search terms (also known as keywords).
In your search results page, you will come across various company ads whose keywords match the keywords in your search.
These ads appear in prominent locations on the page – along with the other search listings that match your keywords. The paid listings are highly relevant to your specific search, making it likely that you will click on them.
Now let’s take a look at how SEM campaigns work from the marketer’s perspective.
SEM networks are self-serve operations. Once a marketer selects a network, he or she can get a campaign up within a short period of time.
When setting up a campaign within an SEM network, the marketer is prompted to:
- Conduct keyword research and select a set of keywords related to their website or product;
- Select a geographic location for the ad to be displayed within;
- Create a text-based ad to display in the search results;
- Bid on a price they are willing to pay for each click on their ad.
Text-only ads are easy to produce. Marketers enter a headline, text for the body of the ad, a call-to-action and a URL for the hyperlink.
Search engine marketing is considered by many to be the most efficient way to spend marketing dollars.
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