In the ever changing and evolving world of digital marketing there are a lot of acronyms to keep track of. You’ve likely heard of and know a little about SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization. But, what do you know about SEM? What is SEM? SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. This means paying to use search engine results as a part of your digital marketing strategy. 

Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing refers specifically to paying for ads to show up in search results. While effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can and should be utilized as part of your digital marketing strategy – this focuses on your brand showing up organically. To fast-track this a bit, businesses may also using SEM for online marketing. Have you noticed that the first several results of a search will be specific companies with “ad” next to them? This is done through SEM. 

It is still important to spend time and resources on SEO – but organic growth takes a while. Effective SEO should be part of your long term strategy and is continuously being reviewed and updated. An SEM strategy, on the other hand, can be implemented a bit more quickly. Ads at the top of the search paid are generally what is called PPC (pay per click) and this means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. 

Making an SEM Plan

Before you jump in and start spending money to try to get your link to appear at the top, make sure you have a plan in place and know your target audience. As with any digital marketing, Search Engine Marketing must be done strategically in order to achieve desired results. Some basics of planning your SEM include the following:

Know your why.

Define the result you are trying to achieve with SEM. This could be building a newsletter email list, or maybe it is taking your audience straight to a new product page? Whatever it is you have to consider the best words and calls to action to ensure that people are directed to what they expect. This will increase your conversion rates. Disappointed or misled visitors will quickly leave your page, but if they find what they were searching for, they will stay and get to know your business. 

Determine your key search words.

You want to have a mix between short and long tail keywords. Just like determining the best search terms for your SEO strategy, your SEM plan requires research in order to achieve results and get ROI. 

Write effective ad copy.

Having clear goals and the right key search terms may get your ad seen but be sure you don’t stop there. You need to be intentional about the words used in the ad to pull in your target audience and encourage them to click. Use compelling copy that is clear and effective in all your digital marketing. 

Decide on the platform.

Similar to when you’re deciding whether to set up Facebook ads versus Pinterest ads or another social media platform, you need to decide where you want to advertise when planning your SEM. While Google is the most popular search engine and will have the highest volume of traffic, others such as Bing will have less competition and generally be less expensive. You will need to determine your budget and decide which search engine makes the most sense to your business for your SEM

Know where you’re sending people who click. Having a plan for the ad is important for SEM, but you also need a plan for once they click. This ties back in to knowing your “why” in your SEM plan. A landing page is a good idea because it can give people who click through a clear and easy way to take the next step. 


Finally, as with any digital marketing efforts, consider getting assistance from a digital marketing agency. Agencies such as Gray Digital Group are experienced in taking comprehensive looks at your company  – and your competition in order to plan the most effective and actionable digital marketing strategy for your business. 

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