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What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the process of increasing website traffic by buying ads on search engines like Google/Bing.

You might already know about search engine marketing, even if you don’t know how it works. For example: if you search for ‘leather shoes for men’ you will see a few search results with ‘Ad’ and a few organic results. The paid ‘Ads’ results are run by search engine marketing.

Why Use Search Engine Marketing?

why use search engine marketing

The biggest advantage of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the fact that people use search engines to find answers to their queries or purchase something online.

In this process, it makes sense to run an Ad to show your business on top of the search engine results page. By doing so you get the opportunity to target people based on their search intent. What people search will get you a close idea of where are they in their buyer journey.

Thus, allowing you to gain customers and convert them on your landing page for a sale. Another reason is you only pay when someone clicks on your ads so it makes sense to pay only for actual traffic on your website.

To sum up, Search engine marketing is a powerful option for your business. It’s a simple and effective way to run target people when they are actively looking for a solution online. You can use SEM to grow your blog or website and increase conversions.

What are the Different Types of Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

There are three main types of search engine marketing (SEM) – all have a similar aim to show you higher on the search engine results page (SERP). 

  1. Pay-Per-Click (PPC): Here you run ads on Google or Bing. This is a paid method.
  2. Organic SEO: This is a type of SEO that focuses on getting your website ranked for keywords in unpaid non-local search results. This is a non-paid method. If you want to learn about SEO check How to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
  3. Local SEO: This is a type of SEO that focuses on getting your business listing to show up in Google map results. This is a no-paid method

How Does Search Engine Marketing Work?

Search engine marketing works on a system of the Ad auction. Let’s discuss how this Ad auction works for Search engine marketing.

How Does the Search Engine Marketing Ad Auction Work?

search engine marketing ad auction

Let’s take the example of Google ads ad auctions. The ad auction process occurs whenever someone does a Google search.

To win auction advertisers identify keywords they want their ads to show when people search for them. Then advertisers set bids (money they are willing to spend on each click) when their ads appear. 

The ad auction process takes place every single time someone enters an inquiry query into Google. To be entered into the ad auction, advertisers identify keywords they need to bid on and state what proportion they’re willing to spend (per click) to possess their ads appear alongside results relating to those keywords.

So, when someone searches with the keywords you targeted your ads show based on the few factors that Google uses to determine the position of your ad.

How Ads ‘Win’ the Ad Auction

Now you may be wondering how Ads win the auction. Most of us will think that the one who pays the highest bid will win the Ad auction. However, this is not that simple.

3 main factors in the ad auction determine which ads appear, and in what order:

  • Your bid – This is the amount you are willing to pay to Google to show your ad for a given keyword
  • The quality of your ads – Google Ads looks at how relevant your ad and your landing page are concerning the search query. Your headline should contain the keywords used in the search query. Your landing page should also talk about the same keyword.  The quality of your ad is what is determined by the quality score, which you can monitor—and work to improve—in your Google Ads account
  • Ad extensions and other ad formats – In Google ads when you create your ad, you have the option to add more information to your ads. These are called Ad extensions which are phone numbers, site additional links, app links, etc. So by adding relevant extensions, you get more visibility on Google searches. This means you get more value from your ads.

Together, these 3 factors determine how your ad will appear to potential customers.

How to do Search Engine Marketing (SEM) in the right way?

1. Know Your Target Audience

This is the most important step in your search engine marketing strategy. You need to know who you are targeting before you go and create your search engine marketing campaign. This includes knowing what is your target audience’s location, the language they speak when they are most active online, and what they want/what they are looking for?

target audience

2. Find the right keywords for your search ads

Try to focus on keywords that are relevant to your business. To find the right keywords that are relevant to your business think of what people will search to find your website. For example: if you have a bakery business.

It would be good to use keywords like best bakery shop near me, bakery shop online in <location>, etc. Create a list of such keywords. You can also use branded keywords that have your brand name in them, they also have good conversion rates.

3. Use Google Keyword Planner Tool

Now you need to go to the Google Keyword Planner tool to check the search volume, suggested bids, and competition level for your chosen keywords. Also, you will get keyword suggestions that closely match your selected list.

Now a pro tip in the Google Keyword planner tool is to check for keywords that have high relevance, high traffic but low competition. This way your chance of showing up on Google Ads increases. You can also choose high competitive keywords if you have the budget to run them

4. Organize Your Google/Bing Ads Account:

Most people make the mistake of not choosing a well-organized account structure when they run ads on Google/Bing. Let’s take the example of a Google ads account. A Google ads account is divided into account, campaign, ad group

How to Organize your Google ads account:

  • Organize your campaigns and ad group when you create them. If you are thinking of organizing an already created Google ads account with lots of ad groups it will become very difficult to do so
  • When you need a campaign that has a different budget or location targeting, it is better to create a dedicated campaign with its ad groups and keywords for better management. For example for a bakery business, it makes sense to create a campaign for pastries and a different campaign for cakes because both can have different budgets
  • Organize your ad groups with a theme, with each ad group speaking about a different theme. Like our bakery example, there can be ad groups like cakes campaign can have ad groups: butter cake, cupcake. Pastries campaigns can have ad groups: Croissants, Pies 
  • Create at least 3 ads in the ad groups that contain the keywords in their headings. This optimized setting optimizes your ads for clicks in each auction using signals like search terms, keywords, location, device, and more. Learn about Ad rotation settings

Improve your Google ads quality

When writing your ad copy, it is very important to think about the experience your website visitor will have after clicking on your ad and going towards your landing page. 

To improve your Google ads quality keep these points in mind:

  • Put Keywords in ad copy: Use your keywords in your Google ads headline or description. For example, if you are targeting keywords like best cupcakes. Your ad copy can contain this keyword in the headline or description of the ad. Now your call to action should be something that shows what people can expect after they click on this ad. It can be something like: Check out our delicious cupcakes, rather than just putting buy cupcakes. If you are running a discount your headline can be ‘Get 25% Off on delicious cupcakes!’ rather than just ‘Buy Cupcakes online’
  • Put your USP in ad copy: This is important if you want your ads to stand out from your competition. A unique selling point (USP) separates your business from others in terms of some quality that differentiates you from your competitors. Like your USP can be ‘We deliver cupcakes same day’


So in this post, I have talked about ‘search engine marketing (SEM). starting from what is Search Engine Marketing, how it works, then moving towards why to use search engine marketing, types of SEM, and finally how to do search engine marketing.


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