Search Engine Marketing (SEM): What it Means & How to Do it Right

Search engine marketing, or SEM as it is generally known, is one of the most effective forms of digital marketing. With thousands of businesses vying for a limited position in organic rank, search engine marketing has never been more to business success.
In this guide, you will learn the overview of SEM, and few tricks and tips to how to do it right.

An Overview of Search Engine Marketing - SEM

Search engine marketing often referred to as pay per click – PPC is a type of marketing that involves promoting websites on search engines for better visibility and engagement.
This form of marketing involves search marketing, display marketing, local marketing, and youtube video marketing.

In the early days of the internet, more emphasis was placed on organic search results.

Since thousands of websites are created daily, competing for top organic rank in search engine result pages is a lot difficult than ever.
Search engine marketing helps you to overcome this challenge and can get your website in front of a relevant audience within a very short time.


The difference between search engine marketing – SEM and search engine optimization – SEO is that SEM gets traffic to a website through paid efforts whereas SEO strategy is purely organic and does not require money.
That being said, although SEO might seem cheaper, it does not guarantee immediate results. This is because websites don’t rank on the top pages of search engines overnight. Search engine optimization often requires a lot of time and efforts.
SEM on the hand can get your business website in front of the right audience in minutes if done correctly.
Therefore, we can say that SEM helps you achieve success faster than SEO.

Keywords: The Foundation of Search Engine Marketing

Keywords are key to the success of any SEM effort. As a matter of fact, keywords form the foundation on which SEM thrives.

What is a Keyword?

Keywords are search terms (or queries) a user types into search engines to find information about a product or service.
Keywords are generally categorized into short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords.
Short-tail keywords usually do not contain more than two words. Long-tail keywords on the other hand  are usually between three and four words long.

Types of Keyword Intent

There are four major types of keywords intent namely: navigational, informational, and transactional.
Navigational keywords are used to locate a website of online resource. An example of this would be someone searching google with “digitalmarketsjournal” so as to be able to get to

Informational keywords are used to search for a piece of information on the internet. An example of this would be “how to make a female trouser”.
Transactional keywords are used to buy something. For example, “buy a Nissan Altima 2017” would be a transactional keyword. Transactional keywords are also sometimes referred to as commercial keywords.

Top Keyword Tools

One of the biggest challenges any online marketer can be faced with is keyword research. Comprehensive keyword research guarantees the success of any online marketing effort.
The success or failure of any keyword research lies in the keyword tool that was used.
The top 5 keyword research tools any online marketer should be familiar with are: Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, Moz Keyword Explorer, Ahref Keyword Explorer, and Google Search Console.


GEOtargetting is one of the cool features of search engine marketing. Geotargeting in search engine marketing is the method of determining the geographical location (or geolocation) of a website visitor and delivering ads to that visitor based on their location. This includes country, region/state, city, metro code/zip code, organization, IP address, ISP or other criteria.
Geotargetting has been found to be a very effective form of approach to marketing. This is because online marketers are able to targeted audiences within specific locations with relevant ads.
For example, there’s no point optimizing the search engine marketing of a dealership business in Selkirk, MB, Canada to an audience that lives over two thousand kilometers away in Toronto, ON, Canada.

How Quality Score Affect Search Engine Marketing

Quality Score is Google’s rating of the quality and relevance of both your keywords and PPC ads. The higher your quality score, the better your ad will perform.
The quality score depends on various factors namely: Click-through rate (CTR), Keyword relevance, Landing page quality, Ad text relevance, and Historical Google Ads account performance.
Read my article on Pay per click marketing to learn more about how quality score works.

Top Search Engine Marketing Networks

Search engine marketing is of three major forms namely: search, display, and video marketing.
There are hundreds of platforms anyone can try out. Some niches are broad while others have verticals.
That being said, the top five search engine marketing platforms are Google Ads Network, Bing Ads, AdRoll, Yahoo Gemini, and Facebook.
The ad networks were rated using metrics such as the volume of traffic, demographics, CPC, quality of Leads, etc.

What is Ad Auction and How Does it Work?

Ad Auction is the process by which search engines select which ads will appear for a specific search and the order in which those ads will appear in search engine result pages.
Here’s how the ad auction works:
When someone searches Google for a thing, the Google Ads system finds all ads whose keywords match that search.
From those ads, the Google Ads system ignores the ads that are not eligible, e.g. ads that target a different country.
Of the remaining ads, only those with a sufficiently high Ad Rank may show.
Ad Rank is a combination of your bid, ad quality, the context of the person’s search, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.
The most important thing to always remember is that even if your competition bids higher than you, you can still win a higher position — at a lower price — with highly relevant keywords and ads.

Final Thoughts

Search engine marketing can provide unlimited opportunities for business growth if done the right way. It opens businesses to a large variety of audience from all over the world.
Search engine marketing can be used by every business. This is because there is always someone looking to buy your product or service on the internet.
Feel free to reach out in the comment section with your questions and contributions.

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