What Is Search Engine Marketing?

Search engine marketing

Any business owner knows that getting found is critical to any type of success. With the sheer amount of business being done online, that means getting in front of searchers and making sure they see your ad and your business and not the competition. While search engine optimization (SEO) is a topic that is often thoroughly covered, search engine marketing (SEM) often offers a faster way to get results right now.

Search Engine Marketing is using the paid search advertising options that Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine offers. Many times when you search for something on Google or Yahoo, there will be ads at the top of the page, as well as on the right-hand side of the page. These are paid advertisements, and give businesses of all sizes a way to advertise directly to people in their area looking for their specific services or products.

Other terms that are somewhat interchangeable with SEM include pay per click (PPC) advertising, pay per impression and any similar type of paid advertising that gets a business in front of its customers.

An easy way to think about this is to understand that companies or businesses who are using SEM are basically buying their way to the top of the search engine rankings (whether in Google, Yahoo, Bing, or all of them). While SEO can help a website move up the search engine rankings over time, those results are never guaranteed and the way a search engine chooses who goes on the top and who doesn’t can change constantly.

The benefit of an SEM campaign is that a business has a lot more control and an immediate effect. When ads are bought, they go into effect right away. That business owner can have their ads appearing near the top of local searches for their service or product within days. This gives an almost immediate return on investment.

There are several different ways that search engine marketing can be set up. There are entire companies of specialists that act as a sort of “middle man” in between a business owner and the actual search engines. In this case the business wanting to get direct advertising results pays the SEM specialists, who then work out the best deals with the actual search engines and take a cut of the budget to make their profit.

Business owners and companies also have the option of attempting SEM directly. They can set up an account with the search engines they want to advertise on, make a list of search terms they want their ad to show up on (or terms they don’t want to appear for) and choosing a limited area where they want the ads to show up in.

After all a local service business in Chicago isn’t helped at all by ads showing up in Tampa. A good SEM campaign focuses on the best keywords, getting the most out of a set budget, and focusing on the specific area where a business wants exposure. SEM then allows paid ads to jump in front of all those organic SEO results to get the attention they need.