Search Engine Marketing


Did you know that, for 85% of retail businesses, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the most successful strategy for acquiring new customers?


Or that 63% of users will likely click on a paid search ad on Google?


Search engine marketing is a very powerful tool for nurturing leads online, generating higher conversion rates, and improving your business’s overall digital efficiency.


In this article, we will explain what search engine marketing is, what types and platforms exist, what benefits SEM brings for your business, and what best practices to follow when coming up with your own SEM campaign.


What Is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing is the systematic use of search engine advertising platforms to increase brand visibility and attract qualified traffic to the website.


Your business’s SEM-based digital strategies has to consider all the search engines that your prospects and target audience use. It also needs to take into account platforms and websites that rank high in search results for your target keywords.


It also encompasses owned media platforms such as social media, review sites, Google My Business pages, and others that appear in search results and affect your authority.


Some of the most common search engines and their respective ad platforms include:


  • Google (Google Ads)
  • Yahoo (Yahoo Gemini)
  • Bingo (Microsoft Advertising)


The search engine marketing objective is to reach the highest ranking position on a specific search engine.


SEM is quite often – and quite erroneously – mistook for search engine optimization. They are both related to search engines and target audiences who search online using keywords. However, SEM has quite a different approach in that it focuses on delivering ads to prospective customers.


SEM is a business model for monetization of search engines: a great part of Google’s $162 billion in 2019 revenue came from SEM.


What Types Of Search Engine Marketing Exist?

There are several main types of Search Engine Marketing:


  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Search ads (PPC and PPM)
  • Owned Media Platforms
  • Third party authority websites (Wikipedia, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.)


All of these platforms are covered by digital agency services provided by the best online marketing companies out there.


Your SEM strategy should consider how to maximize your business’s reputation on all of these platforms for the purpose of boosting visibility and increasing clicks to your website.


Why Does SEM Matter For Your Business?

Being present on the first page of search results for your target keywords is of critical importance to your sales and online marketing efforts.


For businesses in general, being present online is fundamental to revenue, brand image, and online business reputation. And this is what SEM can deliver.


SEM is very useful when aligning your business with search intent, which users are signaling with their search queries. Knowing their search intent regarding your business puts you in the driving seat to serve them content and messaging that they will respond to.


Other benefits of SEM include:


  • Results-based cost: Your business pays only according to SEM campaign results such as clicks and conversions. You don’t pay for displaying the ads on the search page, which is a very cost-effective model.
  • Measurable results: Web analytics systems such as Google Analytics keep SEM results thoroughly tracked and measured, increasing the profitability of the campaign. This allows for real-time optimization and adjustment of SEM campaigns, ad copy, targeting, keywords, or landing pages, which lowers the advertising cost and gets scores of higher quality.
  • High ROI: According to Google’s Economic Impact report, every paid search click makes five organic clicks on SEPRs and every $1 spent on Google Ads produces $8. Depending on the level of SEM optimization and your industry, the ROI can be higher or lower, but the point is, it is always favorable.
  • Accurate targeting: SEM uses targeted keywords that are relevant to your services and products and the terms your target audience is searching for. Researching the right, profitable keywords to use in SEM campaigns will result in more accurate targeting of highly qualified prospects that are likely to convert. SEM also allows you to narrow down your targeting to specific locations, age groups, genders, and other demographic metrics.
  • SEO opportunities: Successful SEM campaigns come with another unexpected benefit: they provide useful data for improving your SEO. This can be, for instance, a trend in search patterns that you discover early and implement into your SEO strategy. Also, seeing how your competitors advertise on search engines will lend insight into their keywords.

SEM Strategy Best Practices

To reap the greatest possible benefits for your business online, you need to rank high for your keywords but also convey authority and trustworthiness with your target audience for the keywords they are using.


The first thing to do when coming up with an SEM strategy is to track which keywords you want to rank for. When creating your SEM strategy, keep these tips in mind:


  • Know your objectives: The above measuring framework is the basis for a larger search engine marketing strategy that should always be tied to your business’s goals such as generating leads, boosting brand awareness, or increasing sales.
  • Maximize your budget: For SEM, maximizing your budget is essential. This can be done by removing negative keywords from ad groups to performing conversion rate optimization to improve return on ad spend.
  • Get better results with split testing: To compare ads and landing pages with different designs and messaging, use split testing to acquire conclusive data to support future spending. This can help you establish which ads and combination of ads and landing pages are the most effective. Scaling your marketing by sending funds to the more successful option will benefit your SEM campaign.
  • Align your landing pages with your ads: While it is important to create the most enticing and convincing ads possible, it’s also important that you do not neglect the landing pages they will lead to. It is critical that your landing page delivers on the ad’s promise. Align the two by creating a clear correlation between them with copy, messaging, and visuals.
    • The messaging on the landing page must reflect the one from the ad
    • Images and visual cues from the ad should also appear on the landing page
    • Build credibility with social proof
    • Use SSL seals and other trust symbols to boost trustworthiness
  • Use return on ad spend (ROAS) as your metric: Even though you can track SEM’s efficiency with several different metrics, using the return on ad spend is generally advised by most marketers. ROAS determines the average advertising spend return with this formula: revenue/ad spend = ROAS.


Search engine marketing is a highly effective strategy for boosting your business’s online success. Its basis is careful targeting of your target audience with relevant ads, resulting in greater revenue and brand visibility.


Author Bio

Tomas is a digital marketing specialist and a freelance blogger. He is focused on new web tech trends and digital voice distribution across different channels.

Google Content Marketing


If you are serious about search engine marketing you most likely have figured out that content can be a very powerful traffic source for any website. Don’t get that confused with the crummy material that some put out there. Good content that helps you generate traffic and visibility can be difficult to write. A content strategy is something that each website should come up with prior to execution so they understand what there content writing goals actually are.


In this video Google discusses how you should go about writing good quality content so that it has a residual effect on your website moving forward. Google encourages website owners to create good content because good unique content helps everyone.


When you think about some of the SEO legends that have really pioneered the roadways for search engine optimization, Danny Sullivan and Rand Fishkin are right there at the top of that list. In this great video from SEOmoz Rand and Danny discuss some very important search related topics regarding the search engine marketing industry today. They hit a lot of great touch points regarding the recent Google updates that occurred along with the disconnect that exists in the SEM industry today.

Rand & Danny chopping it up

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We love when Google gives us valuable insight as to how their search engines evolve and change from month to month. A little while back Google started really giving the community some great information as to how their algorithm is being updated, which is great news for web marketers. With that said, Google is not going to give out the whole kit and caboodle because frankly, why would they? We should be grateful they give us the amount of information that they do. Do your best to really understand the info they give to make better search marketing choices for your brand.

Why does Google give us this info?

Google wants professional marketers to use their search tool with ethics and a right state of mind. They are working hard to rid the world of spammers who flood their search pages with useless pages and information. Google wants businesses to understand how to properly market their websites pushing their brand proactively through the pages of their search engine. The better the approach the better the user experience.

Here is a snapshot of some of the updates but to read them all visit the Google Inside Search blog post to read all.

  • More authoritative results – Authority comes with influence and strong branding, time to get cracking!
  • Keyword Stuffing – Google now gives out penalties for improper use of keywords, aka keyword stuffing
  • More efficient generation of alternative titles – Giving an even stronger importance on page content
  • More comprehensive predictions for local queries – More emphasis on local business
  • Better query interpretation – Google search is getting smarter
  • No freshness boost for low-quality content – Low quality content will get no love

To read all of Aprils search updates visit the Google Inside  Search blog and get a better understanding as to what is happening with search.

How are these choices made?


For all of you out there that work in the search engine marketing space you know what I mean when I say “things that make you cringe” when you are discussing in person or over the phone different topics and SEM strategies relating to search engine marketing. I know I have heard my share of comments over the years and if you are reading this chances are you have to.

Let’s go over a few shall we:

“Oh I don’t need social media”

What?? Have you turned on a computer or a TV recently? Every television show is starting to showcase Twitter hash tags and the whole world now revolves around Facebook and Google. Google which has spent the last 7 years trying to figure out how to get into this social space which I think they have finally figured out is another large reason why social media is important. The fact is that social media is required by everyone who runs or owns a business, no exceptions. If you want to be successful online you have to be social online because the overlap between traditional search marketing (I know small shelf life there) and social media is pretty thick.
Here are 3 great examples of social media success:


“I have to be number 1 in Google”

We all do. The fact is if your goal for your company SEO is to simply be number 1 in Google you are going about it all wrong. SEO is not a race it is a process and a journey that is almost always engulfed in improvement. Search engine optimization is a rather slow process which is only getting slower because every day more and more content is being dumped and more businesses are firing up their own SEO campaigns. SEO today is all about improving your standings in the search space and building your brand not just being #1.

“Well I was told this is how you are supposed to do it”

There are many different philosophies and approaches to building a brand online and conducting SEM. Often times no two approaches are alike which is why it is important to have an open mind to all SEM efforts and activities. If someone once told you that something should be done one way that does not mean that it is the only or even the right way.

“Oh I don’t need a website”

Folks if you make a paycheck selling anything anywhere you 100% without a doubt absolutely need a website. You need to have a focal point you can send your traffic so they can learn more about you and so that you can build your brand in front of your internet audience. A business without a website is like peanut butter without the butter. It just doesn’t work.

“SEO doesn’t really work”

It actually does work it just depends on what your idea of SEO is. For many the definition simply revolves around rankings but the reality is that the definition is multi-pronged. SEO when done correctly will build your brand for company branded search queries and also bring a steady stream of inbound traffic over time while increasing rankings and conversions on your website. To simply dismiss the process of SEO because you are not number 1 is just silly.

“Do you guarantee rankings?”

If you ask this question you should take a moment and read this official Google SEO page discussing this very topic.

Here is the link:

“I got SEM services before for $49 per/month?”

Those weren’t SEM services; you were just paying for a pretty report every month. It is not all about money but like everything on this great planet we live on you get what you pay for. Do you really think you can have a successful online marketing campaign for that dollar amount? You just can’t. It takes time and quality knowledge to execute a healthy search engine marketing campaign, something that typically has a realistic price tag attached to it.

“How come they rank and I don’t?”

Well search engine rankings are a lot like DNA, it can be complicated. With over 1,000 search signals and a fast evolving industry there could be many different reasons why a competitor web page out ranks yours. Everything from hosting, to URL age to social media influence play a pivotal role in why pages rank the way that they do. Don’t assume it is all about links although links are an important part of the equation.

“I need 100,000 Facebook Fans”

Great! Build a great brand and it will happen naturally. You cannot force people to become fans of your fan page if they do not have some sort of connection with your brand. Companies that promise you X amount of Facebook fans are just taking your money because the majority of those “likes” will most likely be manufactured.

“I need an article re-written 25 times”

And why do you think that will work? Because it won’t. Article spinning is an old method of article “marketing” (and I use that term loosely) in order to inundate the search space with an article and get the most use of one piece of written garbage. Write unique content with catch industry topics if you want your content marketing to work how it should.

Endorphins Marketing

It might sound like a silly question but does your website release endorphins?

If you are not sure what endorphins are here is a definition:

en·dor·phin: Noun: any of a group of peptides occurring in the brain and other tissues of vertebrates, and resembling opiates, that react with the brain’s opiate receptors to raise the pain threshold.

Endorphins have been known to be released during times of physical stress and times of happiness. Where does your website fall into this equation? When someone comes to your website what are the types of endorphins that might be released when they view the pages of your blog or website? Something should be occurring and hopefully it is more on the side of the user actually enjoying your website and releasing happy endorphins. If you are a B2B website offering professional services who ever said that you couldn’t communicate with your audience that was on the comedic side of things causing them to smile or even laugh. If your user does not perform any action on your website they won’t even remember that they came there. The thought of revisiting will not occur and you could get left in the dark by a competitor very quickly.

Ways your audience will remember your website and frequent back to it:


Does your website make your audience smile in any way? Give them reason to crack  some sort of facial expression if you want them to every come back to your website. This doesn’t mean that someone will not come back to re-visit your site but if you give them a reason to crack a smile about something chances are they will remember your website that much more.

Belly Laughter

You know these are those laughs that really make you get down deep while making your eyes water. Are you in an industry that has lots of horror stories? Would it be funny to read about those horror stories? Or maybe a humorous video that someone has already done relating to them? Don’t be scared to make your audience laugh hard. Good humor could cause a domino effect of good reactions.

Don’t Make them Sad

Why would a user on your website become sad releasing the complete wrong type of endorphin?

Here is a list of some areas to be careful about:

  • No way to contact you.
  • Lack of relevant information.
  • No content wow factor.
  • Out dated and useless design.
  • Out dated website functionality.
  • Nothing really that interesting.
  • Nothing making you stand out.


If you keep your audience intrigued when they visit your website your website visitor is going to release the right kind of endorphins. If your web traffic becomes intrigued it will cause them to move around your website and keep bounce rate down. Being intrigued does not come easy so if it does occur you can bet a return visit.

The important thing I am trying to stress is that it is crucial to get some sort of reaction out of your web audience. It would be better if you could know what type of reaction you are getting but that is where your analytics come into play. Take a look at bounce rates of certain pages and what people are clicking on those certain pages and you will slowly understand how your audiences is reacting to your website. Don’t be scared to make changes and tweaks to your website in order to get the most optimal results. Your website cannot grow without any change occurring.

Bootstrapped Budget?

If you are in the process of launching a new business online or you have one that has never seen any marketing online you will quickly see that things cost money once you get rolling. Hiring professionals to tackle every aspect of your search engine marketing, advertising costs on various platforms and web design & development can quickly turn your manageable overhead to something that triggers beads of sweat to drip down your forehead. You need to pick and choose your battles closely because the search space is infinite and just because you spend countless hours on Facebook does not necessarily mean that is the right location for you to attract attention. You have to really think about what is going to bring you the most bang for either your buck or your time if you plan on executing this stuff yourself. If you are looking for a cost effective approach to market your website online there are plenty of elements that cost very little money you just need to find the time to execute them…properly.

Writing & Content Marketing

Content marketing is a very powerful choice for any business looking to spread their wings online. Written correctly and leveraged properly content marketing can bring a great deal of traffic and visibility to a website. Sure you can sit there and spend time trying to write a series of white papers and become frustrated but you don’t have to. Start by writing some short articles, possibly around 250-350 words so you can start getting the feel for writing in your space. Try and utilize some of your industry keywords throughout your content and make your content title be a healthy mix of clever language & SEO efforts.

Launching a Blog

Launching a blog and actively writing in it is probably one of the best methods to consistently pulling in new website traffic. Not only does a company blog show personality and stability in an online organization but it also doesn’t cost anything to write in a blog. The only thing it will cost you is time which may or may not be expensive depending on what it is that you do. Wait, don’t anywhere yet, you still have to move those blog posts around a bit so people actually see them. Social bookmarking, Twitter, Facebook and a variety of other locations will become your best friend in order to lure new readers over to your blog.

Social Media Marketing & Networking

Blog commenting, social media interaction and overall exposure in the social space does not cost you anything but time either. I do understand that for many time is as important as money but if you are not visible anywhere online and your revenues are drying up day by day than you can’t afford to not be visible any longer. Websites like LinkedIn and Quora are some of my favorite areas to interact with other like-minded individuals. Leaving comments and answering questions that others in your space might have might seem tedious but eventually it will turn into some leads you just have to be patient with it. It allows you put yourself or your brand into the right light online.

Search marketing services can often times be a strange purchase for many business owners just because it is such an intangible purchase. How do you quantify results? Is anything working how it is supposed to? These are questions all website owners ask themselves when they approach the process of marketing a website to the online community. You need to realize that things take time with internet marketing. There is a great deal of noise and clutter in the web and it is increasing every single day by leaps and bounds. Search marketing is something you need to be doing regardless.

Here are some things to look out for:

1: Visitors

Have your visitors increased according to your analytics information? If they have then the wheels are starting to spin with your SEO. Don’t worry about how many extra visitors you have received just be happy that there is an increase at all. Driving traffic to a website can be very difficult and each site takes time especially if you are in a competitive space. With repetition your visitors to your website will continue to increase but you have to be patient and have a strategic plan of attack in place to keep that traffic coming your way.

2. Activity

Have you seen more activity at your place of business? More leads? More phone calls? Whatever it might be look out for increased activity after you have spent some time marketing yourself online. Over time you are going to see a steady increase of movement occurring at your business if your search marketing is being handled the right way.

3. Movement

Don’t worry about ranking number one for every keyword in your industry, that is a bit greedy and it takes time. Look out for any movement first, is a page of your website now on page 5 when has been sitting on page 25 for two years? I would say that is a nice move to start. Getting into the top three parking spaces for all your keywords is a lofty goal especially if that space has been occupied for many years by the same web pages or websites.

You have to be realistic with your search marketing and take the time to realize that any movement is good movement in the web world. There is a lot of junk and clutter that each website needs to push through in order to stick out and shine and this takes time.

Search engine optimization has grown into a 500 pound gorilla driving a runaway train. The industry started relatively not that long ago compared to other forms of communication but has quickly evolved into a billion dollar industry that does not show any signs of slowing down. Years ago everything was all about quantity and the number of links you could get was the course of action for most SEO professionals. Unfortunately when all that stopped the website owners left behind that did not keep up with the industry kept going with that mind set.

If you don’t believe me put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Better yet, stay in your shoes and think about the actions you take when you look for something online you would either like to buy or someone you need to hire. You search, you might visit their social profile, you see what they have to say on Twitter and then search for their name to see what comes up in the search results. These are the same steps that people are taking to find you as well. If you still have the mindset that your business is going to grow online by submitting your website info into 1,000 directories you are making a mistake. You are much better off just taking that effort and finding the top 15 or 20 quality free directories and submit the information there yourself. The remaining directories are not going to do anything for you. Link building has changed over the years. Don’t you think everyone could just drop their info into these directories and all of a sudden they would appear in the search results?

Marketing a business online is much more than just trying to manipulate search results. People do not just purchase on search rankings like they once did. Don’t get me wrong, search rankings are still a very important part of search engine marketing and as long as search engines are around they will continue to be an important part of search marketing. What I am trying to tell you is that there is more to growing a website online than just search engine rankings. It takes many different wheels spinning at the same time in order to really get things moving. The branding element for anything now is very important and people need a reason to really remember who you are as a business or a person depending on how you sell yourself.

Take the time and really market your business properly to get the right type of attention. Clean up your website, maybe give your logo a makeover and clean up your image if you haven’t in a long time and start building a community online that will follow you. Over time you will turn yourself into an actual business and people will start to look at you in a whole different light.

It is no surprise the search engine marketing game has changed quite a bit over the years and the days of using quantity as a measure of progress through any campaign is slowly coming to an end. Things like sticking a PageRank tool into a tool bar by Google has only pulled people away from what is important, building their business.

Since when did the success of a website come down to how many links you had? Or what your PageRank was for certain pages of your website? The only thing that the PageRank meter has created was a vast amount of business owners that are obsessed over increasing that little number which triggered nothing more than heaps of spam entering the pages of search. Quality communication has become the key to any successful search engine marketing campaign and I’m pretty sure that this will only get stronger as time goes on. We are entering a new phase for search marketing and I think it will be great for the industry.

Social media has morphed everything else into a branding type of approach. Customers want to see you in the pages of Twitter and Facebook communicating with your audience and taking the time to answer questions and concerns with potential customers or clients. Rankings are always going to be important but will they be the driving force to a successful online business? no. Every single element of marketing that gets distributed into the search engines needs some form of quality communication surrounding it. A press release is going to have to be news worthy and have a little more than the announcement of a new page on your website for link building purposes. Treat your blog or website like a business. I think one of the fundamental elements that some website owners forget is to treat their website like a business rather a project. What ever your website offers you have an audience for. If you have an audience and you need to attract readers and website visitors this will only happen if you put your marketing hat on and treat your website like a place of business rather a science project.

It doesn’t matter what you sell if you don’t apply some business marketing strategy to your website your audience is simply never going to find you. They are never going to hear your voice and what it is that you are trying to get across to the world. Attracting visitors to a website requires business strategy and a plan. Hiring someone to write 1,000 articles for you to dump into the search results is not going to help you grow your website. Writing a few good articles and having them strategically placed will work end up working much better for you in the long run.