Acronym for. Search Engine Marketing, so-called SEM is a web marketing activity that aims to improve the ranking of a website on search engines.
This means being able to capture the attention of potential customers in a natural way and appearing in the right place at the right time. Doing SEM translates into combining two technical areas of marketing, the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and sponsored campaigns. SEA (Search Engine Advertising),
They are two sides of the same coin that attract organic, i.e., natural traffic, and paid traffic, i.e., users earned through ads that allow the pages of one's portal to reach the top of the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). Let's analyze together what SEM means, what is its importance for businesses and how you can build an SEM campaign.
What is SEM means?
As already anticipated, SEM is a type of digital marketing that is essentially based on two mutually complementary components: SEO and paid advertising that includes SEA or campaigns PPC (Pay Per Click). The main goal is to increase the quality and quantity of traffic to a certain website.
Placing a business portal high on the search engine results page is achieved through content, metadata and keyword optimization techniques. On the other hand, SEM wants to produce clicks and potential instant conversions through text ads in video or images, that is, the paid "ads" that appear at the bottom or top of the SERP.
Building an SEM strategy requires a careful understanding of search engine algorithms and digital marketing methodologies, precise planning, and continuous monitoring of results to optimize campaigns and correct the shot.
What benefits SEM offers businesses
Doing SEM is a great opportunity for businesses for a number of reasons of no small importance:
- Increase traffic: it is possible to reach an ever-growing audience and attract new visitors to websites due to increased visibility provided by the first page of the SERP;
- Improved quality of web traffic: this is because paid advertising allows for the channeling of traffic from users who are interested in the company's services and products. This means that visits are of higher quality and therefore produce more conversions;
- Increasing sales: this is the logical consequence of the points listed above and is achieved through increased qualified traffic and to the opportunity to win new customers.
The role of SEO and advertising
Very often there is a tendency to confuse and use the two terms as if they were alternatives to each other, but this is not the case. SEO includes search engine optimization of websites and organic ranking activities with content and techniques for setting up apps, portals and blogs.
SEM seems to overlap rather with SEA and paid PPC campaigns. However, this is not entirely accurate as SEM is a macrocategory which goes to embrace all digital marketing practices that occur on search engines, including precisely SEO.
In fact, search engines are the first point of contact between a brand and a potential consumer, and ranking high in the SERP can greatly increase the chances of being chosen by users.
A good SEM strategy must therefore make use of what SEO can do useful in the long run, but advertising must play a central role as well. PPC activities are complementary to SEO because they allow for a qualified traffic (paid) to support the initial lack of organic traffic, while waiting for the site to rank naturally.
Although there is competition on "paid" keywords in recent years and ad costs have increased, being present with the most popular keywords on Google Ads is essential for brand protection.
How to create and manage an SEM campaign
An SEM campaign that is targeted and well structured must have some clear and measurable goals, so you can monitor the effectiveness of the same campaign and possibly make changes in real time.
The KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to be tracked are different depending on whether they are inherent more to the SEO world or the PPC world. On the one hand, there will be metrics concerning keyword placement, organic traffic, number of new customers and so on, while on the other hand there will be the effectiveness of each individual ad with reference to conversion ability, impressions, leads and cost per click.
In addition, a winning SEM campaign must distinguish the brand from the competition, creating a competitive advantage in terms of brand awareness and trust.
For those who need to carry out SEM activities today, there are plenty of specific tools that can encompass both SEO and advertising activities. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Google Ads: is one of the most important software for creating SEM campaigns. Such a tool gives the ability to develop ads in the form of video or text and place them on Google Search and third-party sites that collect ads. Of the same kind are alternatives such as Amazon Ads and Bing Ads;
- Google Keyword Planner: is integrated into Google Ads and is the tool designed to search for the most relevant keywords for a given topic. It is used by both SEO experts and Campaign Managers;
- Google Analytics: also owned by Google, is very useful for monitoring website traffic, bounce rates, conversions and many other metrics;
- Google Search Console: allows to check the presence of a site on Google search results and identify hypothetical indexing problems;
- Semrush: is one of the best tools outside the Google universe and helps with keyword research, competitor analysis and content optimization. However, there are other similar or more complex software, some even in free versions, such as Majestic, Ubersuggest or WhatsmySERP.