What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing is a way of boosting your search visibility when you want to promote your website. Although this is primarily done through paid advertising, there are unpaid ways of going about SEM – but paid methods are often quicker and easier.

In this article you will discover what SEM is, why many companies may choose to use it as opposed to organic means, and how paid results affect the customer’s search experience. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll be able to decide on a form of SEM to use for your business!

a tablet, computer and phone

Organic search results

You’ll likely already be familiar with SEM – you see it every time you search on Google or Bing. However, you might be wondering how it works, especially in terms of how to get yourself at the top of any search results. Don’t worry; the following is going to make everything clear, and help you fully understand how organic and paid results work.

Let’s say you’re looking for a party planner, as one of your friend’s birthdays is coming up. The results you will see on the search engine results page after typing in ‘party planner’ are known as organic. This is because they show up without having had any paid promotion. The search engine you have used has made the decision that those links are going to provide you with the most relevant information to you, so has shown those first, instead of other ones. Organic search results are a product of SEO – here’s our blog on how to promote your business, which delves into how SEO can affect your business.

a man looking at photographs on his computer

Simple SEM

Now, have a look at both the top and the right-hand side of the page, depending on the layout of the search engine you are using. You’ll be looking for the very first results that come up: these links have been placed at the forefront of your view on purpose, due to companies paying for prime advertising space. Along those lines, did you know the average search lasts only a minute? With facts like that, you really have to make sure your company is ranking high. Not everyone is going to be trawling through pages and pages of results – so the top spots tend to get more attention, meaning they are going to be sought after.

The words you type into the search engine are known as keywords – these are the words or short phrases that the search engine uses to identify what content is going to be most relevant, and is also how you decide when you want your advert to show up. Ones that are a better match will be shown to the searcher first. SEM allows the top spaces to advertise to prospective customers first when they search for certain words, giving them an extra edge over later results.

google search results for analytics

Pay-per-click marketing

A positive of having your links advertised is that you only get charged when a prospect clicks on the link – this is known as pay-per-click marketing. Let’s say you are a local party planner. You’ll want your ads to show when someone searches for ‘party planner Lincolnshire’. But, using pay-per-click marketing means you will only pay for use of the advertising when it works – you pay only someone clicks on your ad!

One of the main differences between PPC and SEM is that SEM helps to focus your advertising efforts on people who are most likely to be interested in your content – as they have entered a direct query, asking the search engine what they want to know. Traditional methods, on the other hand, would be seen by everyone, as they are often advertised in newspapers or magazines. However, it’s much harder to rank higher through organic means, so paid advertising is a faster and easier way to get high-ranking results.

a keyboard button with search written on it

SEM time tomorrow!

Okay, so now you have learned all the basics that you need to know about search engine marketing. SEM is an extremely powerful option for your business. Yes, it’s simple, but it is also effective – people usually only search for what they want to know about. Adverts target specific searches, but you only pay if someone clicks to learn more. That is search engine marketing. If you’re interested in using SEM or SEO in your business, contact the Identity Agency – it’s what we do!