What is search engine marketing: Using search engines like Google to get more people to a website is called search engine marketing (SEM, also written as “search marketing”).
You can do SEM in two ways. You can pay for ads to show up in the paid results of a search engine, or you can make your pages better so that they show up in the organic results. You can also do both.
However, there is some disagreement about whether SEM covers both free and paid results. Our vote shows that it’s pretty much a 50/50 split:
To keep this guide easy, we will only talk about paid search ads on Google.
Check out our SEO guide for newbies if you want to learn more about SEO.
What is search engine marketing?
Search engine marketing, or SEM, is the process of using paid ads to make it easier for people to find a business or product on a search engine. SEO, or the process of getting a website to show up in organic search results, is also part of SEM.
First, SEM marketers look for terms that get a lot of searches. Then, they buy ad space on the SERPs for those keywords. The advertiser pays the search engine each time someone hits on its ad. This is called “pay per click” (PPC).
In what ways does search engine marketing work?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can help you get new customers and make more money by getting your site to show up higher on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) than the natural results. Headspace is ranked first naturally and also has the top Google ad spot for “meditation apps.” They have a better chance of being at the top of the SERP because they take up more space there.
It’s important for marketers to know two things: the keywords they want to bid on and how much they are willing to pay per click for each phrase. Use Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool to find the best keywords to bid on.
The best price will rely on your niche. Niches with less competition, like home and yard, will have lower average CPCs than insurance and law. Your ads will be put into the sale once Google checks to see if the keywords you bid on are used by people. Only searches with enough business purpose (users who are ready to buy) will show ads. For example, a search for “what is copywriting” will only show organic results.
During an ad sale, Google Ads rules look at five main things: the highest price, the Quality Score, the effect of ad extensions, the ad’s rank, and its context. In pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, the Quality Score makes sure that the ads people see are useful and appropriate. Your paid search costs will go up a lot if your ad fits too many irrelevant or general questions. This will hurt your return on investment (ROI) and you probably won’t get the results you wanted.
You can keep an eye on your Quality Score in Google Ads and work to improve it there. The highest bid is Google’s automatic bidding system, which you can change at any time. But Google gives you a Quality Score, which is a number between 1 and 10. This is why your ad only wins auctions for related searches.
Tips for Search Engine Marketing
Here are the steps you need to take to make a good ad campaign:
- Make a Google Ads account and plan out your campaigns.
- Get the most out of your paid search spending by planning how your ads are set up.
- Learn about the four parts of an ad: the Ad, the Ad group, the Keyword, and the Ad.
- Set up your ad groups to focus on phrase groups that your audience will be interested in.
- Pick the Right Key Words
For a search engine marketing strategy to work, you need to do good keyword study so you can target the right people. The “right” terms rely on things like the type of search, the number of searches, the competition, and the cost per click.
Use the Keyword Magic Tool to begin paid keyword study from scratch. Type in a relevant term and look through the results to get ideas for ad groups. You can get rid of useless terms by using filters.
Focus on keywords that have both commercial and transactional intent
You type and the meaning of your search are taken into account by Google’s system, which then shows you the best fits. There are four main types of search intent: transactional (wanting to buy something), informational (wanting to learn more about a subject), and commercial (wanting to find out more about a product, service, or company). For your ads, pay attention to these kinds of terms.
The Keyword Magic Tool is one of many Semrush tools that show the search meaning behind terms. Check the Keyword Volume and Competition to make sure the plan is well-organized.
A mix of broad, more competitive keywords and very narrow, less competitive keywords for your audience is best for your Google Ads strategy. It’s tricky because you want your brand to show up for competitive keywords and also get approved leads.
Check the Competitive Density column, the number column, and the cost per click (CPC) of each term to find the right ones. When you bid on a Google Ads ad, the ad with the highest price and the best Quality Score wins. This makes competing keywords more expensive. With enough money, you should go after strong keywords, but first you should find out how much they cost per click (CPC).
You can do this in Google Ads or with the Keyword Magic Tool. Check the “CPC” section once you’ve found your term in the term Magic Tool. Don’t spend too little on a keyword that has a lot of competition, or your ad might not get picked. But for narrow terms with little competition, you can bid less and still get good results.
Add negative keywords and get rid of similar terms to make sure your ads reach the right people. You can keep your ad from showing up on useless results pages by adding negative keywords to a campaign or ad group. In this case, “free” would be a bad term, so your ad would not show up if someone searched for “free.”
Only put a topic in one ad group at a time to get rid of duplicates. You will have to bid more than once on the same keyword if you don’t. You can either start a new project or choose a current one to get rid of duplicate themes. Click on the “Remove duplicates” button in the project panel and pick out the keywords that you want to get rid of. The tool can also find similar keywords and get rid of them right from your Google Ads account.
Differences between SEO and SEM
SEM is a type of digital marketing that helps your site show up higher in search results. These can be both paid and unpaid (SEO) attempts.
Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is another name for search engine marketing (SEM), which is more than just paid marketing. In this type of business, advertisers get paid every time someone clicks on their ad.
On the other hand, SEO stands for “organic results,” or “free” traffic that comes from having relevant, useful content that ranks well on Google.
Long-term traffic can come from an SEO plan that works, and search engine ads can help you get more clicks from people who are ready to buy your product.
Even though SEM is a broad term, from now on we’ll only use it to refer to a paid search approach.