SEM means Search Engine Marketing. SEM is an umbrella term that refers to the process of increasing website visibility on search engine results pages through paid search advertising. The most commonly known and used paid search tool is Google Ads. But Bing or Yahoo may also be worth your time and money.

SEM allows you to place those ads on a search engines results page when a user types a query. Advertisers bid for keywords for which they want their ads displayed. When a user types a particular search query, the advertisers who bid the highest for that keyword will get their ads displayed first.

As with SEO, it is crucial for SEM as well that your ads are displayed on the first page of the search engine results pages. Most people don’t look beyond the first page, so if your ads are displaying on any other page, it is simply a waste of money.

Given that so many advertisers might be bidding for the same keywords and only a few get to be on the first page, you can understand the level of competition.

SEM comprises all the paid tactics the companies employ to accomplish enhanced visibility on the search engines and gain more mileage than their competitors. Hence, it is known by another term frequently – PPC marketing or Pay-Per-Click.

Popular Search Engine Marketing Platforms

  • Google Ads – the best way to reach people as it is the largest available search engine.
  • Bing Ads – this platform claims to have exclusive users who don’t use Google to perform searches regularly. They promote ads on partner sites MSN and Yahoo as well..

Search Marketing Approaches

Search marketing works with two approaches −

  • Earning traffic through unpaid or free search listings (SEO Methods)
  • Buying traffic through paid search listings (PPC Ads)

In the first type of search marketing where advertisers earn traffic through unpaid listings, there are two popular methods − organic and non-organic search.

  • Organic Search:
    Organic Search takes more time to create as more concentrated towards content creation, building hyperlinks, meta-tag optimization, keyword enhancement, etc. It yields late effect. It focuses on long term results. It is inexpensive. They cannot be affected financially. Once the design of the website and its content is good, it requires less management.
  • Non-Organic Search:
    Non-Organic Search is speedy, It brings immediate effect. It focuses on short term results. It is very expensive. They can get affected financially. It required high degree of management.

Things included in SEM marketing:

Well, since the SEM meaning is pretty broad, there are different aspects it includes. But it mainly includes paid methods.

  • SEM works by leveraging the power of search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo through paid ads to reach potential customers at the perfect time and place.
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  • SEM is search engine marketing. That means it can be leveraged for any form of search marketing.

The SEM meaning is more commonly used to refer to pay-per-click advertising because of the paid search methods used. PPC or PPC advertising is the same as SEM.But it’s also known by many other names.

People may use them interchangeably. And you may find you know more about SEM than you think you do.It’s also called:

  • Paid search ads
  • Paid Advertising (which just assumes you know it’s on searches).

Terms that are used often when discussing SEM:

Some of the most important ones include:

  • Impressions — How many times your ad marketing campaign was visible on a screen. It doesn’t actually mean the person saw it.
  • CPC (cost-per-click) — How much you pay when a user clicks your ad
  • CPM (Cost per million impressions) — This is another way to pay for a search ad. Depending on your goals and how the ad tool is set up, you may want to pay just to be seen.
  • CTR (click-through-rate) — The number of clicks you got to your website from people that saw the ad, even if they didn’t click on the actual ad itself.

Difference between SEM and SEO:

The difference between SEM and SEO is SEM marketing primarily uses paid search advertising.

While SEO is a more organic means of generating visibility through optimizing your content for search terms.But it’s not really SEO vs SEM either. They do work together closely as a team.SEO is search engine optimization.

With organic SEO, you take certain steps to help your website appear higher in the organic search results in Google.When someone searches for “How to make an offer on a house”, Google uses an algorithm to determine which web page can best answer that query.

It then ranks the pages or relevant content according to how sure it is that that page can answer that question.

Google’s goal is that you find what you’re looking for at the top of page 1 in search results.SEO is about positioning your website so that Google determines that you’re the best website to answer the question.

Some of SEM Blogs:

  • PPC Hero:
    The Hero Blog is one of the all-time greats in pay-per-click marketing. They post new content on a near-daily basis, and it’s often some of the most exciting marketing content you can find. Their content creation generally falls into three categories:
    • Deep dives into specific marketing strategies
    • Case studies of particular kinds of marketing
    • Coverage of the latest news in search engine marketing
  • Wordstream:
    Wordstream is one of the largest and most well-respected digital marketing agencies out there. One of their central claims to fame are their impressive free tools, like their keyword tool — but that’s not why we’re recommending them today. The Wordstream blog is an unending series of valuable tutorials, listicles, and actionable reports. When they publish a guide with “the top 10 ways to optimize Google Ads,” you know they’ll tell you exactly how to implement all ten (and that those optimizations will work!).
  • HubSpot:
    As one of the biggest and best marketing companies in the business, HubSpot is practically a household name among business owners and C-suite professionals. Whether it’s in-depth tutorials, broad industry coverage, or discussion of advanced B2B online marketing strategies, there’s something for everyone in one of their five different blogs.
  • Neil Patel:
    Spending more than a few weeks in marketing without seeing Neil’s smiling face somewhere is impossible. He’s among the most prolific marketing experts, and his blog reflects his deep knowledge of a massive array of PPC and content strategies, all of which he’ll happily explain to you in great detail. On top of that, he frequently publishes guest contributions from other experts while posting on a good proportion of the other sites on this list and elsewhere. Lastly, he has a podcast called “Marketing School” on Spotify that we highly recommend.
  • Backlinko:
    Brian Dean is up there with Neil Patel as one of the all-time greats in marketing.He doesn’t publish on his blog very often — and he’s frequently updating old posts — but every single article on his site is solid platinum. Some of the best resources, cited by every other blog on this list, come from Brian’s marketing topics in the first place.
    The only downside is since every post is such a high-quality and long-form article, there are comparatively few of them.
  • Bing:
    Google search may have 90% of the search market share and is one of the largest ad networks in the world, but they aren’t the only player in the industry. Bing , that is, Microsoft has plenty of skin in the game. The Bing search engine marketing blog covers a lot of generically helpful advice, of course, but they also offer specific data-driven insights into Bing and Microsoft ads and other marketing strategies. You might be surprised at the level of value you can get out of their blog.


Ultimately, search engine marketing is a smart way to increase the visibility and brand awareness of your company, business or website. You need to make sure that you understand the customers, and prospective visitors of your website, before you set out to create a strong SEM strategy.

This is so that you can understand the relevant keywords to use, which is essential to search engine marketing that actually works. If you are looking to truly optimise your content, then it is wise to utilize both SEO and SEM in your marketing strategy for the attainment of long-term growth.