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SEM: All You Need To Know About Search Engine Marketing

What if there were an option to increase the effectiveness of your marketing? What if you could gain more value from every dollar you spend on paid search? Do you want to get an advantage over your competitors? Let’s find out how you can do that.

In this article, you’ll get to know the fundamentals of search engine marketing along with some of the most effective strategies to get SEM marketing effectively.

What is SEM (Search Engine Marketing)?

The term “search engine marketing” (SEM) can be described as an online marketing strategy that aims to improve the visibility of websites on search engine result webpages (SERPs). SEM is inextricably linked to SEO or search engine optimization (SEO), as it may involve strategies such as revising the content of the website as well as its structure to increase its ranking. But, in reality, search engine marketing generally means paid search or pay-per-click (PPC).

what is sem

How Does SEM Work?

SEO and SEM are integral components in the online marketing strategy because the algorithms that drive search engines are getting more sophisticated each day. This means that a well-thought-out paid search advertising strategy has become a necessity to guarantee good rankings in searches that are relevant to your business.

In the field of search engine marketing, marketers pay for clicks that lead to visitors which is why they are called pay-per-click. Search engine marketing seeks to get in front of users when they are most in need of the information you can provide and this makes PPC advertising very less disruptive.

In the end, it’s a good idea to have a well-constructed SEM strategy that can boost your site’s SEO by attracting high-quality visitors. This shows search engines such as Google that your site is a reliable source, which will increase search engine rankings.

Concepts of Search Engine Marketing


They are keywords that users type into search engines to cause the specific ad or result to be displayed. They do not need to be unique phrases. It’s typical to make use of groups that contain words and phrases like “buy Nike shoes” or “what is the best accounting software.”

concept of search engine marketing with keywords


When setting up campaigns within Google Ads You will have to determine the level of coherence between the terms you’ve chosen and the terms users use to type an inquiry into Google’s search engine. This is referred to in the field of “concordance.” If you select broad matches the ad will be displayed whenever the user is searching for terms that are similar to or synonyms with the keywords. If you choose an exact match the advertisement will be displayed only when a user types in an exact keyword into Google’s search results.

·      Text ads:

This is the most common type of advertisement that appears on search engines, however today, there is a range of choices, such as shopping ads. Text ads typically have the title, an identifiable URL that is customizable as well as a brief description.

·      Ad Group

In Google Ads, the ad group comprises a variety of ads with identical keywords. This way, you will discern which are most efficient.

·      Campaign

In Google Ads, the campaign acts as its “umbrella” under which different ads with the same goals are put together. For instance, if, for example, you sell school supplies on the internet, one campaign could have ads that feature textbooks, while another might include backpacks, and the third one could concentrate on drawing materials.

·      Landing Page

This is the website that the user is directed to following the click of an advertisement. For a successful outcome with SEO, this page must be designed in a way that it can convert and encourage users to complete specific actions (like taking a survey for downloading an eBook). Keywords, ads displayed, and the landing page needs to be in sync to provide an excellent user experience.

·      Search Network

These are the areas in which your ads will be displayed. The most popular option is at the top and right side of the page of results, however, you could also place ads on other websites like YouTube.

·      Impressions

This is the number of times the ad was displayed.

·      Clicks

It is the number of times that an advertisement has been clicked

·      CTR

The percentage of clicks per total impression.

·      CPC

It is the average price per click.

·      Quality Score

This is the rating Google provides to ads and keywords that determines the price per click. The score is per the quality of the ad, the percent of clicks that are made from it, as well as the overall experience on that landing page. The aim of this process is for better quality ads to be placed in higher spots and also offer lower costs per click.

SEO and SEM: What’s the Difference?

To answer in full detail the question “what is SEM?” it is helpful to understand what SEM differs from other terms that are related to search marketing.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing is a broad term that describes any strategy used to improve the visibility of a brand’s website or make a brand show up more often in searches. It could comprise a pay-per-click SEM strategy, organic SEO strategy, or both.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, employs strategies to increase the visibility of search results. Contrary to SEM strategies that charge for the placement at the top of SERPs, best practices for SEO are to draw the attention of search engines and gain prominent organic search results. Organic results don’t bear any “Ad” designation on their results. They’re not paid for, they are earned.

search engine optimization

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing

In trying to answer, “What is SEM?” Another word you’ll come across is “pay-per-click” marketing or PPC.

PPC is a marketing technique where a company creates an online ad and is charged every time a person clicks it. If PPC advertisements are displayed within search result pages it is known as SEM. However, PPC isn’t necessarily related to SEM.

If the PPC tactics are employed on platforms other than search, it is not considered to be SEM. For instance, PPC can be used for websites that offer digital ads, such as promoted tweets, or Facebook Ads. PPC also comprises Google Display ads in which the brands are charged every time users click upon a banner ad that is displayed on a web page. Also, while PPC may be an SEM strategy, it could be a different kind of display or social marketing.

SEM Fundamentals: Terms Platforms, Tactics, and Terminology

So far, we’ve been able to cover:

·      What exactly is SEM?

·      What is the difference between search marketing, SEO SEM, Pay-per-Click, and marketing?

The next step is to review SEM basics, including the terms tools, platforms, and strategies that are connected to paid search engine marketing.

SEM Platforms

An SEM platform can be described as a kind of search engine through which brands can create search ads that are shown when users search. The most popular SEM platforms include Google and Bing.

  • Google Ads is the most used SEM platform. Millions of Google searches are conducted every day, and it could assist you in gaining the attention of the biggest internet-based public.
  • Bing Ads claim to be able to connect with 3 million users who Google cannot reach. By displaying advertisements on partner websites like Yahoo as well as MSN, Bing Ads help you reach out to people who don’t exclusively use Google for their search.

Different types of SEM Keywords

SEM keywords are terms and phrases that you want to target when you market your search engine campaigns. When people search for these terms, they will see your advertisements. For instance when your campaign is targeting the phrase “virtual assistant,” your advert might appear the results of a search for the phrase.

When you create the SEM campaigns, select the keywords you wish to focus on and/or beware of. Four kinds of keywords that you can utilize in your SEM campaigns.

·      Broad Match Keywords

They seek different variations of a word. This can include similar terms such as plural or singular variants, misspellings, stemming, or synonyms for the targeted term. For instance, if you are you are targeting the broad match keywords online assistant a campaign might be able to focus on virtual assistants as well as online assistants and virtual teams.

·      Matching Keywords for Phrases

These Target the specific phrase, as well as any phrases with words that are either before or after the targeted keyword. For instance, if you are using the phrase match keywords, Virtual Assistant, a campaign might be able to target the most effective virtual assistant, virtual assistance, etc.

·      Keywords that precisely match

Target keywords that are closely connected to the target phrase. This can include misspellings, plural or singular forms, stemming, abbreviations words, reordered ones, paraphrases, or words that are closely related that share the purpose that matches the specific keyword. For instance, if you are targeting the exact keyword that matches the Virtual Assistant an advertisement could be able to target the virtual assistant, virtual assistants.

·      Negative keyword

It excludes words that you do not wish to be targeting. Negative keywords are variants that are broad-match, phrase match as well as exact match keywords that are not suitable to include within your campaign. They could be semantically associated with your keywords, however, they are not related to the search intention of the targeted term the campaign, or your ad copy. Some examples of negative keywords that relate to the targeted word virtual assistant could be virtual assistant salaries or virtual assistant training. If the advert was designed to attract companies that are looking to employ a virtual assistant, the purpose behind those words wouldn’t be appropriate and, therefore, they shouldn’t be removed from the advertising campaign.

Keyword type Description Example
Broad Match Targets different versions of a phrase. This includes similar words plural or singular forms spellings, stemming, misspellings, or synonyms of the term. To get the desired phrase online assistant A campaign could be able to target virtual assistants, online assistants as well as virtual teams.
Phrase Match Targets the exact phrase as well as any other phrases with words that are before or following the target keyword. To target the phrase Virtual Assistant the campaign can also focus on the top virtual assistants, find a virtual assistant, or engage an assistant virtually.
Exact match Words that are closely connected to the target word. This includes misspellings, singular and plural forms, stemming and abbreviations or reordered terms paraphrases, closely related words that have the identical intention of searching for the same word. To target the keyword virtual assistant. A campaign could also focus on virtual assistants and virtual help and virtual assistant.
Negative Eliminates terms that you do not wish to be targeting. Negative keywords are variants that are a combination of the phrase match or exact match terms you shouldn’t use for your campaigns. They could be semantically associated with your keywords, however, they are not relevant to the search intention of the targeted term or your campaign your ad copy. For the keyword you are searching for, the term “virtual assistant” could include the salary of a virtual assistant or Virtual Assistant Training.

SEM Targeting

Keywords that are targeted tell a search platform when to display your advertisements. SEM targeting takes this another step. By targeting, you can set additional criteria for when your ad will display and who it should be shown to.

·      Targeting by location

It allows ads to show to those within a specific zip code or geographical area.

·      Ad scheduling

It allows ads to appear at certain times of the day, or on certain dates of the week.

·      Demographic targeting

This makes ads be shown to those who fall into certain demographic categories based on their age and gender.

·      Targeting devices

This allows ads to only be displayed to users using particular devices like mobile phones, desktops, or tablets.

SEM Account Structure

The structure of your account is how the structure of your SEM campaigns is organized and configured. It organizes relevant keywords and themes to build campaigns in your account. The Google diagram depicts the hierarchy of how the structure of your account operates.

·      Campaigns

As the top level of an account, each campaign comes with an individual objective budget, bid strategy, and targeting settings. Campaigns are commonly employed to group accounts into themes that are related to specific services, products, and target audiences, or even promotions. For instance, a platform that connects virtual assistants with customers could run two campaigns. One of them will specifically target those who are looking for virtual assistants and another that targets those with virtual assistants.

·      Ad Groups

Within a single campaign, various ad groups break up the campaign into specific themes. A majority of campaigns contain a few different ad group types, and it is not recommended over seven to ten Ad groups for each campaign. For example, a campaign that targets virtual assistants may include two ads one that targets part-time virtual assistants, and the other that targets fully-time virtual assistants.

a female marketer holding a laptop while pointing finger towards audiences

·      Keywords and Ads

Each ad group comes with a list of targeted ads and keywords. Keywords and ads focus on the ad’s specific audience and its theme. It is suggested to use at least two ads and not greater than twenty keywords for each ad group. For instance, an advertising group that targets full-time virtual assistants could make ads using keywords that are directly addressed to virtual assistants who are seeking full-time jobs, while the group ad that targets part-time virtual assistants would concentrate on specific keywords and include the language of part-time work.

SEM Ad Copy

In the majority of cases, SEM ad copy mimics organic results of the search. But, they do have the option to display additional details. The typical ad will include the headline, two lines of text short description, and a URL for a website. It can also include:

·      Extensions of Site link

·      Extensions for callouts

·      Extensions for calls

·      Extensions for messages

·      Extensions to the location

·      Advertiser ratings

·      Price extensions

·      Extensions to structured snippets

SEM platforms also may offer other search ad formats, like product carousels.

SEM Ad Auction

If you have set up your SEM campaign, it does not mean that your ad going to be shown each time someone searches your desired keyword. SEM platforms come with built-in systems which decides when and if your ads are displayed and also how it is competing with other brands that target the same keywords. This method is called Ad Auction. Ad Auction, and is based on three elements.

·      Maximum CPC bid

The maximum amount you’re willing to be willing to pay when somebody clicks your advertisement.

·      Quality Score

A rating the platform assigns your ad. There isn’t a clear methodology for the Quality Score however, it is believed to be based upon factors like the rate of your click (CTR) and the relevancy of your keywords to the group, the relevancy of your landing page content to keywords, and the performance of your ad in the past.

·      Ad Rank

The rating the platform assigns to your advertisement to determine the place it will appear on search results. The more impressive your Ad Rank is, the better position your search ad will get. The three elements are used for deciding the person who “wins” the Ad Auction and who gets the highest position on search results pages.

Maxi CPC Bid x Quality Score = CPC Ad Rank

The most important conclusion from the formula above is companies with a higher Quality Score will perform better than those that have a higher maximum CPC bid. In SEM If the Quality Score of your website is good, you’ll be positioned higher in SERPS and spend less.

Why Good Keyword Research is Important for Paid Search?

Paid advertisements can appear on the top of the SERPs in Google above organic results. This kind of prominent position will likely result in outcomes, but to make the most of your ads you must know the audience you are targeting and develop content that is pertinent to your audience. SEM isn’t a success without some pre-planning. The idea behind effective search marketing is reaching users at the exact moment when they’re in the market to buy.

Why Good Keyword Research is Important for Paid Search

Finding the Correct Keywords

Here is the point where the connection between SEM and SEO can be seen Keywords are at the core of SEO marketing. We can’t stress enough the importance of effective search engine optimization is to the performance of your paid advertisements strategy. If you’re looking to control the SERPs an effective SEM strategy is a perfect complement to an already robust SEO strategy.

If you know what keywords relate to your businesses, You can go through your master list and select the ones you would like to focus on with the ads you’re making.

Be aware: A broad match is a “keyword that allows your ad to show when someone searches for that keyword, variations of it, as well as other related topics” by Google Guidelines.

Search Intent

Before you can begin to conceptualize your advertisement, you must take time to research your keywords and learn about them in-depth.

Some users enter search terms with clear intentions. People who require data that is commercial are much more likely to purchase after their search compared to users who are “scrolling” the internet for information.

Examples: Let’s say you offer gardening tools and you want to promote your pots and seeds. Through your research on keywords, you came across three keywords you need to concentrate on

·      Do sunflowers grow back?

·      How tall do sunflowers grow?

·      How to grow sunflowers

Now imagine that you are the one who is searching this. If you type the first two words on Google then you likely aren’t looking to sell something, you’re just seeking details. The third search term is one with a commercial purpose and may provide a fantastic chance to promote your sunflower seeds and terracotta containers!

The search intent can be described as the distinction between driving people to your site and attracting prospective customers to your site. Eliminate keywords that have an unsuitable user intention and those that are less likely to produce good results if were to compete in an ad campaign.

Another reason you should bid on search terms that have an intention to sell is the fact that not every ad will be displayed in every search.  Google operates with an auction system that considers a variety of elements when deciding the ads that are displayed to which users. In addition, the relevancy of the advertisement to the individual plays a significant factor.

The Core of Search Engine Marketing

Keywords form the base for search engine marketing. Since people enter the keywords (as a part of search queries) into search engines to discover the information they’re seeking, it should come as no surprise that they form the foundation of marketing via search engines as an advertising method.

SEM Keyword Research

Before you decide which keywords to include for your advertising campaigns on search engines it is essential to do thorough research to determine your strategy to manage keywords strategy.

The first step is to determine the keywords that are relevant for your company and that potential customers are likely to type in to search for your services and products. Simply type in a keyword pertinent to your company or service, then check out the related keywords suggestions ideas that could be the foundation of different SEO-related marketing campaigns.

As well as aiding you to identify keywords that you should bid on, thorough research of keywords will also assist you in identifying undesirable keywords – terms in search that you shouldn’t include in your marketing campaigns. Negative keywords aren’t words that have negative connotations. They are more ad-hoc keywords that are unlikely to bring about conversions. For instance, if you sell Ice cream, you might prefer to avoid the term “ice cream recipes”, because people who search for recipes for ice cream are not likely to be in buying your item.

The term “search intent” refers to the concept of search intent or the probability that a potential buyer will make the purchase or perform another decision following a search for a particular keyword. Certain keywords are thought to be having significant commercial potential or an obvious signal that the person searching for them wants to purchase something. Examples of high commercial intent keywords are:

·      Buy

·      Discount(s)

·      Deal(s)

·      Coupon(s)

·      Free shipping

Account Structure and Keywords Research

Another important aspect of keywords that is vital to the performance of a marketing campaign is the structure of an account. A logical keywords arrangement, as well as account structures, could assist you in achieving a greater rate of clicks as well as lower costs-per-click and overall better performance. Keyword research can help you consider the best ways to arrange your account. Google Ads and Bing Ads accounts must be organized according to the following method for best outcomes:

·      Ad Campaigns

·      Ad Groups

·      Keywords

·      Ad Text

·      Landing Pages

Advertisements can be, and should often, be focused on similar items or services. For instance, if you have a store selling hardware advertising campaign, it could be focused on products for the fall season like leaf blowers, leaf bags, and rakes while another could focus on power tools etc

Advertising groups allow every advertisement to be further sub-divided to make it more relevant. In our example of a hardware store, the ad group might be for various types of rakes as well as different types of leaf blowers. In the case of the power tools campaign, an ad group may concentrate on power drills and another might focus upon circular saws. This kind of structure could take a little longer to establish initially however the benefits in the form of greater CTRs with lower costs – make the investment worth it in the end.

SEM Ad Auction

One of the longest-running misconceptions about marketing through search engines is that the person with the biggest advertising budget is the winner. Though a larger budget for advertising could be beneficial particularly when it comes to searching for keywords with high competition. However, it’s not the only requirement for success in SEO marketing. All ads are subject to a procedure known as the ad auction before appearing in the results of a search. To help with this discussion we’ll concentrate on the auction process within Google AdWords.

sem ad auction

The Way Ad Auction Works

The auction process for ads occurs every when someone types the search query in Google. To be included in the auction, marketers choose the keywords they would like to bid on and also state how much they’re willing to pay (per click) for their advertisements to be displayed alongside search results that relate to the keywords. If Google decides that the keywords you’ve purchased are in the query type of a searcher, your ads will be placed in the ad auction.

How do ads win the Ad Auction?

Each ad may not appear on every search. This is because the auction considers a variety of elements into consideration in determining the position of ads on the SERP and also because not all keywords have enough commercial value to warrant displaying ads alongside results. The two primary elements that Google examines as part of the auction process include your maximum bid as well as the Quality Score of your advertisements.

The maximum bid represents the highest amount you’ve specified that you’re willing to pay for each click. The Quality Score (QS) is the measurement that measures the quality of your advert. Google analyzes these metrics in the auction process to determine where advertisements should be placed. The outcome from this process is referred to as the ad rank.

How to Develop an Effective SEM Strategy

The steps for constructing your SEM strategy are fairly simple:

·      Conduct keyword research

·      Pick the terms that are relevant to your company and have the correct intention

·      Go to Google Ads and set up the campaign

·      Choose the terms that are the most relevant to you.

·      Create an ad that will be displayed on the SERPs

·      Select a bidding strategy and pay for every click.

SEM lets you put ads before users who are in the correct phase of the funnel for marketing. This means that they are the ones who are in the right position to make a change. However, to make sure your search marketing campaigns yield the best ROI You’ll have to select the appropriate keywords and be on the lookout for a few other aspects.

Let’s take a look in-depth.

What Google Searches at when it comes to Ad Auctions

Each ad campaign is competing with a particular target group and rivals may target the same people the same way as you. The method by which Google determines which ads to show to a specific person is through an auction. As per according to Google Ads guidelines according to Google Ads guidelines, there are 3 major factors they look at in an auction of ads:

·      Maximum Bid

The amount you’re ready to pay for the chance to click on your advertisement

·      Quality Score

A formula Google Ads uses to determine the relevancy of your advertisement and how beneficial it is for the user.

·      Ad Extensions

The additional information you included in your advertisement (phone number, hyperlinks to specific pages, etc.)

The maximum bid is a reference to the automated bids Google uses to make techniques that you can use to ensure complete control over the amount you bid. It’s the same for extensions to ads that could influence the performance of your ads. The Quality Score is determined by Google and is the reason why your advertisement only gets auctions for keywords that are relevant to your query.

This Quality Score makes it so that if an advertisement is found to match more than a few irrelevant and general search terms, the cost associated with your paid search will go up dramatically, without delivering the results you’d hoped for. This reduces the ROI of your campaign and sends an incorrect message to other networks such as Google.

How to Create a Strong Ad for your SEM Strategy for Google

There’s one sure-fire method to make a strong advertisement that can yield the highest return on investment. It’s to create a keywords-rich, data-driven copy.

If you select highly relevant keywords, you’ll be able to win auctions with targeted ads for a lesser cost than your competition regardless of whether they opt for the highest max bid. It’s since your Quality Score higher, which means you’re more familiar with the end-user than your rivals. When writing your ads, be sure you do:

Make sure you use keywords that meet the appropriate intention of the user

Review and analyze the volume of keywords’ searches and the density of competition

Control costs by checking frequently the structure of your campaign and ad grouping

This is a lot easier to say than accomplished, but continue reading to discover our top tips and your advertisements will dominate Google within a short time.

How to Create an Effective SEM Strategy: The Top Strategies

A way to enhance the effectiveness of your advertisement is to design extremely relevant Ad Groups. This involves removing any keywords that are not relevant to your company. Google keyword planner is a great way to improve the effectiveness of Google Ads campaigns.

create effective sem strategy

The tool does not just assist you in your search for keywords, but also assists to determine the search intent as well as the ideal cost/volume ratio. Review the suggestions in the tool and tidy your list of keywords that will eliminate the less lucrative opportunities.

Utilize your PPC Keyword tool to arrange your keywords on both advertising group and campaign levels. Don’t forget to add the negative keyword! These are phrases that you can label as insignificant when you aren’t sure they will bring about conversions.

A tip for you: To improve your targeted audience, keep your list of the negative keywords whenever you come across them early in your keyword research. Add them to your campaign whenever the subject requires them.

It is also possible to use Google Keyword Planner to discover additional keywords before adding these into Ad Campaign. To get the maximum benefit from the keywords you select to target, ensure that you add them to your PPC Keyword tool as a final step before setting up your campaign on Google Ads.

Get Rid of Duplicates in your Keyword List

You can create negative keywords that are valid at both the ad-campaign level as well as in the context of a group. This means that you can have several ads within the same campaign and not create an identical list of keywords over and over again. This way the tool checks for any overlaps and eliminates duplicates.

The same applies when it comes to removing duplicates from normal keyword lists. Click the “Remove duplicates” button on the right-hand side of the screen and the tool will present you with the latest duplicates it has detected. All you need to do is remove them.

Find the Right SEM Strategy Using Laser-focused Keywords

The possibilities with the Google Keyword Tool are almost limitless. It’s because it helps you in the challenging task of enhancing your keyword lists using a variety of filtering and metrics. Particularly we made sure that you had the ability to:

·      Find long-tail keywords using the word count

·      Create hyper-focused ad groups, categorized by topic

·      Define the scope of your ad groups eliminating modifiers

·      Find the keywords you want within a particular area in SV, CPC, etc.

·      Connect effortlessly directly Google Ad Editor

Once you’ve designed your advertising groups, it’s now time to go into Google ad Manger and start working on your ad’s text. Export your campaign’s keyword, negative keywords, or both, and add them straight to ad campaigns.

Find the Right SEM Strategy Using Laser-focused Keywords


In this article we have tried to explain each and every aspect of SEM and how it works. If you want to start an SEM campaign then this article is all you need to understand as a beginner, or you can leave the hustle to us and go with Rocket SEO Miami. We are a premium digital marketing agency which can handle all your SEO, SMM and SEM operations that can take your business to next levels and you can focus on more important aspects of your business. Contact us for a complete evaluation of your online presence.


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