SEM Explained—The Who, What, When, Where & Why

21 November, 2018

10 mins read

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Search engine marketing (commonly referred to as SEM) is one of the most effective digital marketing methods for small businesses. Why? We’re going to explain in more detail later on, but essentially, search advertising doesn’t play by normal marketing platform rules; where money rules the game. With this digital marketing strategy, a bigger budget doesn’t necessarily mean better results.

What we’re saying is small businesses can compete with the big guys. Yeah, pretty exciting.

While search engine marketing is simple in theory, there’s a lot you need to know to pull it off successfully. Before we jump in, let’s get a better understanding of what SEM actually means.

What is SEM?

We’ve already said SEM is search engine marketing, so what exactly is it? By using SEM, you are paying to have ads for your business on a search engine network, such as Google or Bing. Like we said, in theory it sounds easy.

Now, if you’re wondering how SEM is different from SEO (search engine optimisation), we suggest you check out our article, What is SEO? The Basic (But Essential) Guide. In a nutshell, search engine marketing generally uses paid advertisement to increase brand awareness, while search engine optimisation uses organic methods.

You may also hear SEM be called PPC (pay per click) or paid search advertising.

Who needs SEM and why?

Are you a business owner? Do you want more people to buy your products or book your services? How about establishing an incredible return on investment for your advertising? If you answered yes to these questions, then you are a prime candidate for SEM. Pretty much every business can benefit from SEM if they have a small amount to invest.

The second your ad goes live, people start to see it. This means there is a very fast return on investment for SEM. It’s also very easy to see if you’re making or wasting money on your campaigns. Every search engine advertising platform will show you exactly how much you spend, how many people saw the ad and of those, who clicked on your website or contact button. Google explains calculating your ROI very simply if you want more information on working out the figures.

Essentially, if your campaign is created well, you’ll receive leads in a very cost effective way.

When should they use SEM?

SEM puts your business name and details in the right place at the right time. If someone falls in your chosen demographic for the search terms you’ve set, they’ll be seeing your ad. In saying this, whenever you need a boost in traffic to your website or leads to your business is a good time to utilise SEM.

Many businesses will run an SEM campaign when they launch their website for an instant increase in traffic. Others will run smaller campaigns throughout the year, increasing their spend to promote special offers or occasions. Right now, running campaigns throughout the year is currently best practice, however it depends on your business and circumstances.

It all comes down to using the right type of search engine marketing the right way.

Where (and how) can SEM be used?

If there’s a search engine, there’s an advertising platform. Google has Google Ads (formerly known as Google Adwords). Bing has Bing Ads. You get the point.

Google alone has 7 different types of campaigns, ranging from the search network (search pages) and shopping option to video. Each campaign has multiple ways you can be displayed. You can put your ad on influencers videos on Youtube, on search result pages, on other brand’s websites, on the shopping network…the list goes on.

The most common type of SEM is pay per click. For this type of ad, you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad to visit your website or contact you. You set your budget but there is a cost per click, which is how much you pay every time someone clicks on your ad.

Your cost per click (and ad position) is determined by your quality score. To find your quality score, Google weighs up your click-through rate, the relevant of your keywords, the landing page quality and its relevant to the ad and the performance of any past ads. For example, if you set your budget as $1,000 and Google determines your cost per click as $1.50, Google would show your ad to people until you receive 667 clicks.

This is how you can trump your big-city competitors. By improving your quality score, you will pay less for your ads, receive better ad positions and hopefully, increase your number of leads.

Who can help with SEM?

Running search engine marketing campaigns is time consuming. You need to optimise your landing page, create your ads, analyse and select keywords, monitor results and adjust to get better results each time you run a campaign. This is where an SEM specialist can help you—although you don’t just want anyone.

You want a Google Premier Partner running your campaigns. A Google Premier Partner (such as Localsearch) has been qualified by Google for continued high performance and achieving certifications in Google Ads. It’s kind of like a chef receiving their Michelin Star.

The job of a SEM specialist is to get you the best possible results by improving your campaign performance and return on investment. They save you time and money, while making you money at the same time.

Visit our business website to learn more about how search engine marketing can benefit your business.

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