What Is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

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What Is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

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Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is about buying traffic through paid search listings. It will involve terms such as: Cost Per Click (CPC), Pay Per Click (PPC), & Cost Per 1,000 Impressions (CPM); just to start. And, as a SEM client/customer you will need to take things like budgets, target areas & customers, as well as website design & layout into consideration. This is starting to sound like a lot so let’s break it down some.

SEM utilizes search engines (Google, Bing, etc) to deliver ads to potential customers that are searching for something. Let’s use “brown reclining sofa” as our example search. When someone searches for this they will get both ad results and organic results. Ads come from campaigns that are built using keywords to trigger the most appropriate ad to populate in the ad results. There are generally about seven to eight ad spots on Google search results, four at the top and three or four at the bottom. These are denoted with a little Ad symbol next to them. In-between are organic search results.

Google has a very good video, found here, that explains the bidding system they use… and something similar is used in most search engines. The short version of this is: the price you are willing to pay doesn’t mean that is what you will pay. Things like Quality Score, bid amount, others advertisers bid amount, and relevancy all play a part in the bid process. Meaning if your Quality Score and relevancy are high, you could land a better ad spot with a lower CPC.

When using a PPC or CPC strategy, you won’t pay for your ad showing up in the search results page. You will only pay when someone clicks on your ad and goes to your website or landing page. This landing page on your website should be highly related to the search results and the ad that drew the customer to click. Going back to our example: “brown reclining sofa”, if the ad indicates brown reclining sofa but your landing page is all colors and styles of sofas, the searcher will probably get off your site quickly and go somewhere else. This will also lower your Quality Score. Ideally, the ad lands on only brown reclining sofas and nothing else… different configurations of brown reclining sofas, but no red, no chairs, no anything but brown reclining sofas. This will increase your Quality Score, potentially lowering your CPC.

There are all kinds of results when you search for Search Engine Marketing, I encourage you to take a look. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to take that step into finding the right SEM partner for your needs.


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