What Is SEM?
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising.
SEM may incorporate search engine optimization (SEO), which adjusts or rewrites website content and site architecture to achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages to enhance pay per click (PPC) listings .
What Is Search Marketing?
Search Marketing encompasses:
- SEO: Earning traffic through unpaid or free listings
- SEM: Buying traffic through paid search listings
Originally called “search engine marketing,” the shorter phrase “search marketing” is now often used as the umbrella term over SEO and SEM. The longer phrase “search engine marketing” — or SEM — is now typically used to describe paid search activities.
Related SEM Synonyms & Acronyms
“Search Engine Marketing” was once was used as an umbrella term to encompass both SEO (search engine optimization) and paid search activities. Over time, the industry has adopted the SEM acronym to refer solely to paid search.
At Search Engine Land, we generally use SEM and/or “Paid Search” to refer to paid listings, with the longer term of search marketing used to encompass both SEO and SEM. Below are some of the most common terms also used to refer to SEM activities:
- Paid search ads
- Paid search advertising
- PPC (pay-per-click) *
- PPC (pay-per-call) – some ads, particularly those served to mobile search users, may be charged by the number of clicks that resulted in a direct call from a smartphone.
- CPC (cost-per-click) *
- CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) *
- Most search ads are sold on a CPC / PPC basis, but some advertising options may also be sold on a CPM basis.
SEM For Beginners
Google AdWords is by many measures the most popular paid search platform used by search marketers, followed by Bing Ads, which also serves a significant portion of ads on Yahoo. Beyond that, there are a number of “2nd tier PPC platforms” as well as PPC advertising options on the major social networks.
In addition to covering general paid search trends, you can find the most recent news about SEM and helpful tips to get started with PPC ads on the major search marketing platforms below:
- Google: AdWords
- Bing Ads
- Yahoo: Search Ads
Each platform offers its own getting started guides and helpful tutorials. Another beginner resource is Google’s Insider’s Guide To AdWords (PDF). Since the guide was last updated in 2008, the Google AdWords UI (user interface) has changed, along with several features, but the guide may still offer a useful introduction .
SEM – Methods and metrics
1- Keyword research and analysis involves three “steps”: ensuring the site can be indexed in the search engines, finding the most relevant and popular keywords for the site and its products, and using those keywords on the site in a way that will generate and convert traffic. A follow-on effect of keyword analysis and research is the search perception impact. Search perception impact describes the identified impact of a brand’s search results on consumer perception, including title and meta tags, site indexing, and keyword focus. As online searching is often the first step for potential consumers/customers, the search perception impact shapes the brand impression for each individual.
Website saturation and popularity
2- Website saturation and popularity, or how much presence a website has on search engines, can be analyzed through the number of pages of the site that are indexed by search engines (saturation) and how many backlinks the site has (popularity). It requires pages to contain keywords people are looking for and ensure that they rank high enough in search engine rankings. Most search engines include some form of link popularity in their ranking algorithms. The following are major tools measuring various aspects of saturation and link popularity: Link Popularity, Top 10 Google Analysis, and Marketleap’s Link Popularity and Search Engine Saturation.
Back end tools
There are three major tools used by EBSCO: (a) log file analyzing tool: WebTrends by NetiQ; (b) tag-based analytic tool: WebSideStory’s Hitbox; and (c) transaction-based tool: TeaLeaf RealiTea. Validators check the invisible parts of websites, highlighting potential problems and many usability issues and ensuring websites meet W3C code standards. Try to use more than one HTML validator or spider simulator because each one tests, highlights, and reports on slightly different aspects of your website.
Whois tools reveal the owners of various websites
4- Whois tools reveal the owners of various websites, and can provide valuable information relating to copyright and trademark issues.
5- Google Mobile-Friendly Website Checker: This test will analyze a URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design