What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing (or SEM) is a type of marketing where you focus on improving the performance of a site in search engines, through SEO or through paid search.

SEM is often used by many people to mean Paid Search advertising only. However, this is incorrect and simply came about because of historical reasons (in the same way that PPC being used to mean Paid Search did).

Paid Search used to only allow PPC ads, so PPC came to mean Paid Search and many people still use it this way. Similarly, SEO used to be a mainly technical skill (often done by IT managers) and so was not considered a type of marketing. On top of this, when a way to advertise in search engines came along that was run by marketing managers, of course, the word marketing was used in an acronym to describe it! Marketers love coming up with new names for things in order to sell them!

However, SEO now encompasses many things (and is not strictly a technical discipline). It is a fully formed digital marketing discipline. This is why Paid Search and SEO now together come under the umbrella term of Search Engine Marketing.


What is SEM [Infographic]

What is Search Engine Marketing (or SEM) InfographicClick to enlarge


7 Things To Know About SEM

  1. SEM = Search Engine Marketing
    SEO = Search Engine Optimisation
    SEA = Search Engine Advertising (but no one calls it that!)
  2. On Google Search Results you can now aim to have your content incl. as:
    • Ads
    • Organic results
    • Direct answers to the search
    • Factual Info
    • Local Results
    • News
    • Videos/Images
    • Tweets
    • Products
  3. Due to more information being displayed directly in search results pages, around half of all searches end without any results being clicked.
  4. Some use SEM to *only* mean Paid Search, but then people also mix up:
    • PPC & Paid Search
    • CPM & RPM
    • CTOR & CTR
    • etc
      Digital marketing is full of slight misunderstandings. Don’t cling to yours!
  5. The odd (but obvious) thing about search engine marketing, is that the more space you take up for any results page, the more likely someone is to click on your results. Bigger is better in search.
  6. According to SparkToro, when people search about 7% of the time they click on ads, compared to 45% clicking on non-paid results.
  7. If you have an ad *and* top positioned organic result on the same search results page, then both together perform better than the results of each one alone combined. It’s a sort of 1+1=3 effect.



SEM Definition

Next: How Search Engines Rank Pages