What is SEM?

Jun 9, 2021 | Marketing

SEM stands for search engine marketing, and it is one of the most popular ways to market your business in today’s digital world. With tens, hundreds, even thousands of similar businesses in your region or state all vying for the same customers, making sure users find you is vital for ensuring profitability. SEM represents a very effective way to keep your products or services visible to potential customers.

How Does SEM Work?

SEM is the practice of using paid advertisements to increase your business’s exposure on search engines. Businesses can bid on specific keywords that are relevant to their products or services, which can then be shown alongside organic results on search engine results pages (SERPs). These ads are called pay-per-click ads, and can include text, product listings, contact information, pricing, and even your reviews.

The biggest strength of SEM is that your ads display only when someone searches for a relevant keyword. This means that you are able to get your business information in front of users when there is an intent to purchase, resulting in a solid ROI for properly designed campaigns.

Why You Need the RIGHT Keywords

We’ve already discussed how SEM displays ads for relevant keywords, but the catch is that you are responsible for choosing these keywords. It is important to ensure that you are picking only the most relevant search terms possible, or else you may end up wasting money on irrelevant clicks.

While you may be able to guess some of your most relevant keywords, your best bet is to do more in-depth research. You may find that some of your ideas have low conversion rates, and find high-performing ones that you wouldn’t have guessed. It is also important to consider negative keywords, which are ones that may be similar, or offered by other competitors, that you do not want to bid on. There are many keyword research tools available online for free or a small fee that you can use to do keyword research.

The SEM Auction

One of the most common misconceptions about SEM is the idea that whoever has the biggest budget wins the auction. Fortunately for small businesses, this is definitely not the case. While a larger budget can be very helpful, especially for highly competitive keywords, it is certainly not the only thing that makes an SEM campaign successful. 

All SEM ads go through an auction, which is essentially a pool of businesses who are all vying for the same keyword. Businesses choose how much they are willing to bid on a certain keyword to ensure they stay within their budget. Advertisers also take into account an ad’s “quality score”, which is a metric that judges the overall relevance and quality of your ad. These two considerations are combined to form an ad rank. Ads are then shown on the SERPs by rank. 

Watch Your Ad’s Quality Score

Your ad’s quality score makes up half of its rank, which means that it is an extremely important metric to keep an eye on. An ad with a high quality score will outrank other ads at a lower cost, because Google favors ads that are going to be the most relevant to user queries. This is how small businesses can outcompete larger ones with bigger advertising budgets – and end up with a much higher ROI for their advertising dollars. 

SEM and PPC can seem a little complicated, especially if you haven’t spent much time learning and working with digital marketing campaigns. If you have questions about how to integrate SEM into your digital campaigns, or how to optimize ones you are already running, contact us today. At Gulf Coast Web, we have over 25 years of experience in managing all types of digital design and marketing campaigns – even for companies outside of our immediate area. Our staff consists of highly-trained digital design advertising professionals who are both passionate about their jobs and excel at what they do. Contact us today to book a consultation with our team. We look forward to outlining exactly how we can help you grow your business with our digital media agency services.