Search engine marketing (SEM) is just one digital marketing strategy you can use to attract customers and increase visitors to your website.
Unfortunately, SEM can be confusing if you don't have a digital marketing background. Not only do you need to know how search engines work, but you'll need to understand the various terms used by search engines, including SERP, search queries, and so forth.
Once you get the hang of it, search engine marketing can be an effective small business marketing strategy to grow your business and help you stand out from the crowd.
What is SEM?
Search engine marketing is one of many digital marketing strategies businesses use to increase online visibility, boost brand awareness, and drive traffic to their websites by helping them show up on search engine results pages (SERPs). Also known as paid search marketing or paid search advertising, SEM marketing allows you to reach customers on your favorite search engines by paying for placements on SERPs. With this type of marketing, marketers only pay for impressions or clicks that result in website visitors.
Unlike other forms of online advertising, search engine advertising allows you to attract customers when they're already looking for products and services like yours on search engines. For example, someone might enter the search query "dog toys" into Google if you sell pet products. If you've bid on that SEO keyword, your ad will show up, allowing you to potentially rank higher in search engines than organic results.
How is SEM different from SEO?
Understanding SEM can be confusing because this term comprised both paid and organic strategies at one point. However, it now refers to paid search marketing in which you spend money for placements on SERPs. With search engine marketing, you pay a search engine platform to show your ads on SERPs. Multiple placements are available, depending on the search engine, and where you show up on the SERP depends on how much you're willing to pay.