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What Is Search Engine Marketing?

Posted on June 30th, 2017

Search engine marketing (abbreviated to SEM) is an incredibly effective way to attractive online visitors to your website. In your industry, there could be scores of competitors vying to get the lion’s share of online traffic, and it’s common for only a few companies to get that share. If you want to get any kind of online traction, you need to successfully place and advertise your website, as it can be the most powerful way to get the traffic you need.

Here’s the driving concept behind SEM:

When someone searches online for a product or a type of business, they are usually in “hunt mode”, meaning they are interested in making a buying decision of some kind. Businesses that show at the top of a search engine result page (SERP) receive the most traffic from this type of customer. For this reason, it is highly beneficial to be at the top of the search engines.

This is where search engine marketing comes into play. When someone enters their search query into Google, different type of results will appear:

  • Paid search results
  • Organic search results
  • Google My Business results (if the search query has a certain geographic context, like restaurant + “my city”)

Some marketers will define SEM differently (some will only view paid search as SEM), but for the purpose of today’s post we’re going to dictate that SEM encompasses all search engine optimization techniques. In today’s post, we’ll discuss how to best approach SEM as a business owner.

Paid Search Results

Paid search marketing is advertising in the sponsored listings of a search engine for a specific search term. For example, if you want to appear on the first page for restaurant Vancouver, you can pay to have your website be at the very top of the SERP for that search term.

There are several ways that the search placement is paid for:

  • CPC (cost-per-click)- You pay the search engine anytime someone clicks on your ad.
  • CPM (Cost-per-impression)- You pay the search engine for every 1,000 times the ad appears on the SERP.

CPC is best for companies who are more focused on sales and concrete results. CPM is better for companies who are focused on increasing their brand awareness.

Google is the world’s most popular search engine, and Adwords is its main advertising platform. If you choose to advertise with Adwords, you can advertise on these two platforms:

  • The Google Search Network- This encompasses Google’s main search platforms like Google Search, Google Shopping, etc.
  • The Google Display Network- Any website that partners with Google

Beyond Google, there are the Bing and Yahoo ad networks, which can also bring you significant traffic if used properly.

Organic Search

Search engine optimization is the process of obtaining traffic from the free or organic listings on Google. When compared against paid search, SEO has its benefits, and if you want to employ a holistic SEM strategy, you should put some effort and resources into SEO.

Google My Business

Essentially, GMB is a directory of local businesses. The listings that are the most optimized (have the proper business info, have a decent amount of customer reviews, etc.) will appear near the top of a SERP. If your business has a local location, GMB is something that you shouldn’t neglect.

Conclusion

Employing a holistic SEM strategy that includes paid and organic methods is the best way to ensure that you accumulate the targeted traffic you need to dominate your competition.