What Is SEM and How Does It Work?

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What Is SEM and How Does It Work?

Have a question? Chances are you turn to a search engine for help. Once there, you click, looking for answers to suit your needs. Some results appear organically, while others are paid to be at the top. That is what search engine marketing (SEM) is all about.

How Does SEM Work?

Search engines are designed to be user-friendly. They want to give their customers exactly what they’re looking for. They aim to give searchers answers and options.

On the other side, you have companies that want their brands noticed. They have things to sell. They have advice to give.

For marketers, that means two ways to enter search results. They can pay for search results, where their information will appear as “sponsored” within the rankings. They can also work for organic results, where their information shows up without having to pay. Those results show up without a “sponsored” label and appear lower down the list.

No matter which approach you take, search engine marketing makes it happen. When companies focus on SEM, their goals are to:

  • Grow their businesses
  • Attract more traffic to their landing pages and websites
  • Improve website visibility
  • Generate more leads
  • Grow their revenue

To achieve this, SEM relies on keywords and phrases to attract specific audiences. When you use the right keywords in your content, your ads and information appear in the results for searches most commonly performed by searchers.

This is known as search intent. It’s about meeting your audience where they can find you and giving them content based on what they search for.

Two Types of Search Engine Marketing

When people create a digital marketing plan, they consider all the ways to reach out to their target audience. This is where it pays to narrow your focus and become skilled at utilizing the methods that best suit your needs. For many, SEM becomes a critical part of that plan.

Inside SEM are two specific ways of reaching your audience: SEO and PPC. One gives you organic results, while the other is pay-to-play. Both work well, and they are often used together for optimal results.

1. SEO

Search engine optimization helps improve your search engine visibility using non-paid, organic methods. Methods can include:

  • High-quality content creation
  • Keyword research and optimization
  • On-page optimizations
  • Mobile optimization
  • Page speed optimization
  • Backlink building

Each of these has the ability to make your website and landing pages more in tune with your audience’s needs. Plus, updating information can increase the chances of giving search engines more of what they want, improving search engine results page (SERP) rankings.

2. PPC

Organic search takes time to develop. It’s a continual marketing method for higher rankings throughout your business’s lifetime. It works well, but sometimes you want faster results. That’s where paid search begins.

Paid search marketing focuses on improving visibility through paid advertisements. You use paid ads to deliver what people are searching for. This requires skill in knowing how to write relevant copy, using compelling images, niching down for a specific audience, and utilizing keywords that trigger ads to your target.

Ads are delivered on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis. You choose the keywords you want to show up under, and you agree to pay each time someone clicks on the ad. This provides fast results—you can be up and operating in a matter of minutes.

However, just as quickly as the ads are turned on, the moment you turn them off, they disappear, and traffic ceases. Your leads and profits can dry up instantly if you aren’t prepared for it.

The good news is you have many options for paid search, including:

  • Search ads—where ads show up in search results
  • Shopping ads—appear when someone searches for a specific product
  • Local ads—help promote local businesses within the search results and on maps

This gives you a variety of ways to attract your target audience. You define it then tweak it over time.

The Benefits of Working SEM Into Your Marketing Strategy

Maybe you’ve been using internet marketing for a while now but never thought about direction. You’ve never devised a plan that clearly defines your SEM goals and how they fit into your overall strategy. It may be time to do so. Adding SEM has numerous benefits:

Increased Visibility

If you want to grow your business, you can’t ignore the impact search engines have on growth. More than 53 percent of shoppers say they always research before buying to ensure they are making the best possible choice. SEM improves your website’s visibility by utilizing both organic and paid advertising. You can gain instant exposure when you need it and become an authority through organic results over time.

Targeted Advertising

SEM lets you get as specific as possible with your target audience and build ads based on keywords, location, demographics, and user behavior. With this precision, your ads will become more relevant over time, speak to searchers’ hearts, and increase your chances of conversion.

Measurable ROI

SEM platforms like Google Ads provide detailed analysis and reporting, allowing you to get detained tracking information on every campaign you run. With a professional team of marketers behind you, it’ll make it easier to calculate ROI and further optimize your digital marketing strategy.

Cost Control

Ever thrown money at advertising only to have it fail miserably? Advertising can be frustrating without a concise plan. With SEM, you can control your budget and set daily or campaign-specific spending limits. Pay-per-click means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, meaning with further refinement, you can get the most from every dollar you spend.

How To Have SEM Work for You

SEM can be a game-changer for your business, but it does require expertise, time, and a strategic approach to maximize its potential. That’s why many smart businesses hire a digital marketing team to help them make their SEM campaigns more profitable.

It’s the easiest way to leverage their expertise, tools, and strategic approach to make their SEM campaigns stand out.

It’s the best way to free up your time to focus on what you do best—running your business.

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