What is SEM? Search Engine Marketing Explained

Search Engine Marketing Explained

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can be an essential tool for digital marking to generate good leads, clicks, conversions, etc. on your website.

But, the key is to do it effectively and intelligently to get a proper return on investment (ROI).

If you are a business owner, you should look at someone who has an excellent stable grasp on how to run ads on various search engines such as Google, Yahoo Bing!, or Facebook. 

Lest you don’t end up paying higher CPCs(cost-per-click) than other advertisers that have appropriately optimized their campaigns.

If you are an aspiring digital marketer, you need fundamental knowledge about how AdWords work and on top of that, need hands-on experience to perfect the skill.

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a method of digital marketing that leads a long way in pulling the target audience to get more conversions and creates a business marketing through paid advertisements on various search engines.

The greatest advantage of Search engine marketing is that it allows putting an advertisement in front of the eyes of an already motivated customer who is ready to make a purchase,

No other advertising medium can target this precisely and effectively. This makes Search engine marketing such a powerful tool to grow your business.

This type of marketing is also commonly known as PPC advertising because you usually pay a certain amount of money when people click on your ad but, there are also other options for paying for your ad, such as pay per thousand clicks on some ad platforms like Google ads.

Search Engine Marketing vs. Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization: The difference?

In the past, Search engine optimization was considered a part of “search engine marketing.”

But due to various complexities in them, both search engine optimization and search engine marketing are classified as a distinct unit.

seo vs sem

The main focus while performing SEO is to improve organic search engine rankings of a website.

This is done through carefully optimizing title tags, content, Meta tags, and keywords and building internal links.

The focus keywords are tactically placed throughout the page and the website. These are called On-page SEO.

There is also Off-page SEO in which the main focus is to build backlinks of the website and social shares. This helps in establishing site authority in the eyes of search engines.

On the other hand, in search engine marketing, you pay for the ads that are shown in the SERPs.

Here the main goal is to show the ads to people who are actively searching for a keyword or key-phrase.

To rank on the first page through SEM, the website doesn’t require being of high site authority.

Paid Search Results (PPC):

1. They are positioned on the top and below Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).

2. They appear when a person search matches the keyword and ad campaign settings

3. They are ranked as per cost-per-click (CPC) bid & relevance.

Organic Search Results:

1. They are positioned in the middle of SERPs between PPC ads

2. They appear when the title and content of the page matches the person’s search

3. They are ranked based on hundreds of factors, but relevancy with the search term and site authority are some of the main factors.

organic search results vs paid search results appearance

Although both organic and paid search results can be highly competitive, they can offer very different value propositions.

For example, While SEO can be highly effective in the long run, it can take 8-12 months or even more depending upon the competition to see consistent results from your effort.

It needs continuous optimization and online presence to maintain ranking.

With SEM Advertising, on the other hand, you can see the placement of your listings almost immediately, but the maintenance of that ranking requires upkeep and constant infusion of money.

Read more: Why the Future Scope of Digital Marketing in India is Very Bright?

Is Search Engine Marketing even necessary?

India’s e-commerce market is one of the largest growing markets globally right now. It is estimated that the Indian e-commerce market will touch USD 84 billion in 2021.

With an Increase in a number of competitors in online business, search engine marketing has become very important in increasing traffic and online presence.

You can target a specific group of people based on their age, interests, geographical location, economic status, marital status, etc.

The results are very immediate with Search Engine Marketing; hence, it is arguably the quickest method to drive quality traffic to your website.

Some facts that support the above argument

  • 94% of the people who search on google (83% of online search is conducted here) only click on the 1st page
  • 80% click on only the top 3 results
  • If a website is not the 1st page, it’s like the website doesn’t even exist.
  • If your website isn’t among the first 3-4 websites on the 1st page of a search engine index, you won’t get your aspired traffic.

Some drawbacks of SEM.

  • It’s tad expensive, and not everyone can afford it.
  • The phenomenon called ad blindness (where search engine visitors consciously or unconsciously ignores banner-like information).

Search Engine Marketing Platforms

There are several SEM platforms to choose from, in fact, most search engines have an ad platform that allows people to market their products or services.

The most well-known (and effective) platform to use is Google Ads.

Yahoo! Bing Network ad is also an SEM platform that you can use. 

But, it’s important to note that 84% of people only use Google as their primary search engine.

I will discuss Google Ads in detail because it is the single most popular SEM advertising system in the world due to the volume of traffic it can provide.

Here I’m listing some other SEM platforms with their pros and cons:

Google Ads:

A massive 67% search market share belongs to Google, which makes it the largest search engine in the world..

Google ads

Google ads enable businesses to create advertisements that appear on Google’s search engine and other Google properties.


  • Traffic volume
  • Immediate results
  • Targetting
  • Remarketing

Read- 10 Advantages Of Using Google Ads for growing your business


  • if not optimized by trained professional cost per click can be expensive.
  • Not a permanent cure for website traffic

Microsoft Advertising (Yahoo! Bing Network ads):

Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) is a service that provides search engine marketing platforms on both the Bing and Yahoo! search engines.

In 2018, the market share of Bing Ads in the U.S. desktop search market was 33.8%, and a combined desktop and mobile market share of over 20%. 


  • Lower CPCs than Google
  • Customer care is very helpful


  • Search traffic is comparatively low
  • Limited growth potential

Facebook ads:

Facebook is the largest social networking site, with over 1 billion users. It allows you to market your product or service to its users through Facebook ads.

Facebook is also considered one of the most powerful search engine platforms out there.

Facebook advertising

Around 50-60% of its users log in daily, which provides you with a considerable audience to showcase your product or services on the platform.


  • The massive database of Facebook helps you with precise targeting
  • Number of active users
  • Cheaper than Google


  • Lower click-through-rate
  • Ad campaigns need constant upgradation.

Some other unpopular options are :

  1. Advertise.com
  2. AdBlade
  3. BuySellAds
  4. Bidvertiser
  5. AdRoll
  6. RevContent

Final word:

No website or online business can survive unless it follows a robust search engine marketing strategy.

The most significant advantage of search engine marketing is that it will show your website to a person who is actively seeking products or services that you can offer.

 SEM can turn out to be a very profitable investment if performed correctly, and it can provide a significant return on investment (ROI).

Ranking organically takes time, sometimes 6 months, sometimes a year and some businesses can’t afford that. Time is money.

 If you create proper campaigns, your website will be positioned above the organic search result within hours that the power of search engine marketing.

As far as choosing between SEO OR SEM, in the online business world, it shouldn’t be either-or. If you are in the market for the long-term, you have to take advantage of both of them.

Both of them have their own advantages and disadvantages, and both of them are very powerful in giving results in their own right.

Do you want to try search engine marketing for your website, but you couldn’t figure out where to start? 

Get in touch with us

Please comment on feedback and share it on various social platforms.

Leave a Reply