What is SEM?
Defining exactly what SEM or search marketing consists of generates some discussion. This is because there are differences between the “real” meaning of the term and the way most people use it today.
SEM is the set of tools, techniques and strategies that help us to optimize visibility in the search engines of websites and web pages. That is, we intend to appear more and be better positioned between Google’s search results and other similar sites. Namely, when a user searches for keywords related to our brand.
Typically, Google search result pages, and other similar sites, show two types of results:
- Organic search results (usually shown in the centre of the page). To know what to show, the search engine uses an algorithm that tells you which sites respond best to a given search. For example, Google’s algorithm is based on relevance (website content) and authority (links from other pages). The set of techniques and tools used to position organic listings is known as SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
- Paid Search Results. They are usually shown at the top, in a column on the right and at the bottom of the page. Unlike organic listings, here the advertiser pays an amount for each click they get (PPC – Pay Per Click). To get purchased traffic, we need to use search engine advertising solutions, like Google Ads. This system is also called PPC (pay per click) or CPC (cost per click).
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) encompasses techniques of SEO and SEA (Search Engine Advertising) – advertising on search engines. The controversy lies in the fact that more recently, most marketers use SEM to refer exclusively to paid advertising on search engines, ie PPC or SEA. Why? Due to the size and complexity that SEO has gained in recent years with its techniques, strategies and practices. There are those who consider that it ended up becoming a branch apart from SEM, so they started separating SEO and SEM.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing), SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEA (Search Engine Advertising). What are the differences?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
As already mentioned above, SEO has been the term used to obtain organic listings. It is an acceptable practice that search engines actively encourage. In the search world, SEO is equal to PR in the “real” world. A good SEO cannot guarantee a good “coverage” of the search engine, just as a good PR cannot guarantee that an article will be published in a good newspaper. However, it can increase the chances of this happening.
SEA (Search Engine Marketing)
It is a technique of getting traffic to a website through paid advertising, such as Google Ads or Bing Ads. It works in a PPC (Pay Per Click) system, in which the advertiser only pays when someone clicks on his ad.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
SEM is a powerful advertising channel. It is a technique of diverting more traffic to the website, increasing the ranking of the website on popular search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. SEM is also called Search Marketing and can be done in two ways; getting traffic to the website with the help of SEO and getting traffic with the help of SEA.
Many marketers use the term “Paid Search” instead of SEA, or they use the term SEM when they actually mean SEA. It’s quite confusing, but what you need to know is that SEM includes SEO and SEA. Both are important in your marketing strategy.
What are the benefits of SEM?
SEM is an online advertising technique that can help you build a strong presence in Google search, allowing you to reach your business goals.
1. Be Present at the Right Time
Undoubtedly a huge advantage of doing SEM campaigns (organic or paid), is being able to be present exactly when the customer is looking for your product or service. Your website has the chance to appear at the exact moment when the consumer is available and predisposed to dedicate himself to the search. This is Inbound Marketing, without interrupting, your target audience will come to you at the time of your best convenience.
See this example: A plumber can make several ads on TV, but when people see the ad, they are not in need of the service. At that time, it is not relevant to them. And so, they can make a selective hearing and neither hear the announcement or at least do not retain the information.
Now, if one day you get home and notice that the kitchen sink is clogged and doesn’t drain, what are you going to do? Google! You will look for a plumber for your area who is available at that time. Those who appear at the top of the search engine result page or even in the middle of the page (paid – / organic search results) will be the first ones to call. Surely you will no longer search on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th pages. This is SEM work and has incredible power!
Appear prominently, at the right moment of consumer need and at the right time. Powerful, isn’t it?
2. Total Autonomy in your Campaigns
To advertise in traditional media (TV, radio, Outdoor …), you have to buy the space through media agencies (plus an intermediary who charges a fee). This implies negotiations of prices and space and formalized contracts. Undoubtedly a large investment in financial resources and time spent.
With SEM, you can do everything autonomously and quickly. No negotiations, no contracts, no intermediaries. You can work overtime in SEO and for faster results in SEA or PPC (Pay per Click).
If your product runs out of stock you can easily interrupt all your campaigns and you can even communicate when searching for the consumer that the product “is temporarily sold out, but will soon be back”.
You can even make a retargeting campaign later on to those same consumers when your product is available again. In SEA you can start and pause campaigns whenever you want and you can adapt the message to the situation quickly and cheaply. It is unthinkable to be changing the message of your TV ad every week and according to the specific audience of the moment.
3. Shorter Budget That Does More: Less is More
Small and medium-sized companies no longer advertise their brands simply because investments in traditional media are very high. From the creative agency, production of advertising spots, media agency, final arts, photographs etc, etc …, all this generates high costs for those who advertise, becoming unaffordable for the vast majority.
Even for the big companies that bet on this type of advertising, it is a problem, as they only manage to do it once or twice a year and are unable to have a continuous brand presence throughout the year. For those who have worked in the marketing of large companies, how many times did they not have to justify the % of the budget that was invested in production vs % of media space? The gymnastics that had to be done to fit everything in the budget. And how to prolong the brand’s presence with consumers throughout the year?
And for what? Being 1 or 2 moments of the year on the air (usually short 4 to 6 weeks) with a little relevant message (one size fits all) for a wide audience that is not predisposed to hear that message at that moment of interruption.
In the Internet age and SEM, this has changed, although many large companies have yet to wake up. Now we can have complete control of how much we want to invest. Through ad platforms, we can choose how much we are willing to invest in a click that leads to your website or even in converting a customer to your company through a purchase.
4. Traffic Selected for a Purpose
A major difficulty in the digital world and its campaigns is to generate traffic that is not relevant to the website. Running SEM campaigns gives you the ability to advertise only to people looking for specific things that are directly related to your brand and the problem you are going to solve for that user.
When the query (search for the potential consumer) matches the Keyword (keyword selected by the advertiser) that you bought or used in your SEO strategy, the magic happens and your company appears right in front of your potential customer, ready to solve his problem.
By focusing on keywords, we will reach the audience that is actively interested in us. Specifically, in SEA, we can filter these audiences by other factors, such as location, language or behaviour.
PPC search ads allow you to target specific demographics as well as potential customers at any point in the sales funnel, which means that the traffic you’ll receive from paid ads is more likely to be qualified than traffic generated by others means.
5. Measurable and in Real Time
Another great advantage of working with SEM is undoubtedly the ability to measure and track all consumer behaviour. In traditional media, who can say that that specific TV ad generated x sales numbers? Nobody.
In SEM we know exactly the ads (paid or not) that led to a conversion and in real-time.
Tools like Google Ads provide highly detailed reports on the progress of your campaigns, so you can know what’s happening with your ads. In addition, you can take advantage of the integration with Analytics to have everything perfectly controlled.
SEM means putting your content prominently on Google or other search engines. It has a good potential to offer instant results, conversions and soon more cash to enter your company.
SEM is more powerful when used to its full potential, that is, a combination of SEO and SEA (PPC).
The SEO strategy must be continuous and always running in the background. Never stop. You may want to invest more or less time in it depending on your resources, but keep on doing it: in the end, it always pays off.
The SEA strategy should be more “on-need”. You can even run it constantly to improve your results, but ultimately it is a more “on-demand” strategy to help you boost your results when needed.
We hope we helped you. Of course, there is much more behind each of these strategies. You can count on our help! At Link37 we work with all these strategies to leverage your business, freeing your time to dedicate yourself to what you like best.
How is your SEM strategy? Share with us and ask for help!