SEM 101: The Basics of Search Engine Marketing

Whether you’re searching online for a shoe store in Denver or a Mexican restaurant in Austin, you’ll see SEM ads.  Although typically small in size, these ads are noticeable just above or to the right of your search engine results. When done well, SEM, or search engine marketing, can attract consumers to your website. For small businesses looking for affordable ways to increase revenue, this tool can help you market to another base of potential customers.

SEM is different from SEO, or search engine optimization. Search engine marketing is paid advertising, while search engine optimization is organic. You can’t pay a search engine to help your website rank higher with SEO. With SEM, you create an ad using a specific keyword. This ad is then displayed alongside specific search engine results that correlate with the keyword in your ad.

With SEM, you don’t pay unless someone clicks on your ad. This is one reason why SEM, often called pay-per-click advertising, is so attractive to small businesses. Here are some more reasons why SEM has become such an attractive and affordable online marketing option for many companies:

  • Immediate results. SEM advertising is the fastest way to drive traffic to your website. SEO, on the other hand, can take several months for measurable results to be realized. As soon as your pay-per-click ad goes live, it will begin showing up on search engine results pages.
  • Flexibility and control. SEM allows you to design and control your online advertising campaign to meet your business needs. You can bid the amount that you are willing to pay to stay within your advertising budget.  You can also choose to pay more for certain keywords at certain times of the day or week for more targeting and control.
  • Remarketing. The more frequently that a prospective customer is exposed to your brand, the more likely it is that they will become a customer. With remarketing, a valuable benefit of SEM, you show ads to users who’ve previously visited your website as they browse the internet. You know that these customers are already interested in the products and services that you have to offer!

Now that you know some of the benefits that SEM advertising offers, learn why hiring a professional, experienced online marketing company like is the best way to achieve success for your business.