What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and how does it work?

Search Engine Marketing is the set of Internet Marketing activities, which are carried out in order to channel as many users as possible interested in the contents offered on their website, while they navigate on search engines.

Search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the main branches of Web Marketing.

According to its original meaning, SEM is composed of two fundamental disciplines:

SEO, or search engine optimization;
SEA, search engine advertising.

Actually, over the years, the acronym SEM has been used to refer exclusively to paid activities (SEA).

Today, however, the term “Search Marketing” is conventionally used to refer to both disciplines. In the following, we will refer to the most current terminology.

search engine marketing
What is search engine marketing (SEM) and how does it work?

Search Engine Advertising (SEA)

search engine marketing
search engine marketing

With Search Engine Advertising we refer to the promotional activities of a paid website that the various search engines allow to realize.

This discipline allows you to “buy” indirectly qualified traffic from search engines, against payment of a price that is determined on the basis of an auction mechanism.

I say indirectly because in reality advertisers compete for the best positions in search results (the first four),

which ensure greater exposure of their ads to users who search and navigate.

The monetary amount, defined by the auction, is charged every time a user clicks on the ad.

The important feature of these advertising systems is that the advertiser pays for highly qualified traffic,

as the ads are shown to those users who carry out searches closely related to the products or services offered.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

search engine marketing
search engine marketing

This is the set of optimization activities that can be carried out on a website in order to position its pages in the first organic positions (not for a fee) of the SERP.

The objective of this discipline, as for SEA, is to obtain qualified traffic to your site, with the difference that no cost will be charged per click of the users.

This activity can be divided into two macro areas:

SEO On-site, which is practised through the optimisation of page content in order to make it easily understandable by search engine crawlers;

SEO Off-site, which refers to website optimisation activities and structuring of internal and external links,

which increase the authority of the sites in the eyes of search engines.

Referring to SEO we have created many guides and interesting articles on how to optimize it:

Search Engine Marketing how it works

Paid systems differ depending on the type of paid advertising in which a company wishes to invest.

There are some main terms to know when it comes to SEA paid advertising:

PPC (pay-per-click)

PPC advertising is the most common form of SEM.

With PPC, the marketer pays the ad only when a user clicks on the link.

All other times when the researcher sees the advertisement but does not click the views for the advertiser are not paid for,

but are recorded as impressions.

CPA (cost per action)

Acronym of Cost per acquisition or Cost per action.

It is the average cost of an advertisement when a specific action is carried out.

CPA is the total cost of the PPC campaign divided by the conversions achieved.

Calculating your CPA will help you determine whether your paid SEM strategy is profitable or costs more than you are earning.

The CPA can help you understand the economic impact of your marketing campaign.

CPC (cost per click)

The CPC refers to the actual cost of each click in a PPC marketing campaign.

It is an average of offers compared with your competitors over a certain period of time.

Your CPC will be equal to or lower than your maximum bid per keyword.

The calculation of your CPC is the ranking of your competitors’ ads divided by your quality score.

Understanding your CPC can help you know how much to invest in an offer.

In America the average CPC in all sectors is around two dollars.

A good practice is to use one of the many online CPC calculators to see and analyse your investment sector.

CPM (cost per thousand impressions).

CPM is the most common pricing scheme for web ads.

CPM refers to the cost per 1,000 impressions of a banner

An advertising banner, or web banner, is an advertisement displayed on a web page.

The advertisement consists of an image (.jpg, .png, .gif) or an advertising object on a web page.

For example, if the site charges two euros CPM, it means that we will pay two euros for every 1,000 impressions of our ad.

Search Engine Marketing – Search Engine Optimization

search engine marketing
Search Engine Marketing – Search Engine Optimization

The Best Tools for keywords research

One thing common to all forms of SEM, whether SEO or SEA, is that they are always based on the search for keywords.

It is necessary to make an offer on certain keywords so that our paid ads appear when users search for those certain words,

just as it is essential to have the content within the website optimised for keywords.

To appear on the SERP for “digital marketing company”, for example,

we have to “win” an offer on those keywords, and therefore, given the high competition, if we do not choose the right keywords, the investment will be very high,

just as organic search will be lost in the SERP without ever appearing on the front page of Google.

In order to be successful with SEM it is necessary first of all to master keyword search and related offers.

In this regard we recommend some excellent tools for Keywords search:

Keyword Ranking Psychic WordPress Plugin

search engine marketing
Keyword Ranking Psychic WordPress Plugin – search engine marketing

This is a Plugin that we use to search our Keywords, it is really very accurate and has allowed us to have many of our articles in the first pages of Google,

We noticed a substantial difference between the Google Keyword planner and this Plugin, so we have decided to rely completely on the Keyword Ranking Psychic WordPress Plugin with truly amazing results,

we have had an increase in traffic from today to tomorrow, it is also very easy to use, just a few steps:

Enter your niche keyword and select your favourite search engine

Click “Find difficulties” and within seconds the plug-in predicts how easy or difficult it is to try to classify your niche keywords on the first page of the selected search engine.

This Plugin allows you to save time and not waste work by going blind when creating your articles,

Once the keyword and the search engine have been entered, the plugin will analyse in depth how much that keyword can be classified in the chosen search engine.

Keyword Surfer Chrome Extension

Keyword Surfer is a 100% free extension that allows you to see search volumes directly in Google search results.

We combine this extension with the plugin of before and get incredible results for the SEO of our site

Search Engine Marketing – Search Engine Optimization

There are other tools that you have certainly heard of, for example:

  • Keyword Everywhere (Chrome Extension)
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Google Trends

They are excellent tools, but as far as we are concerned we have achieved more positive results with the tools described above.

Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing

Which is the best paid search platform

To maximise the success of our SEM strategy we must use the right platform for our specific needs.

The best known of the Paid Search Platforms is Google Ads, where you can create a free account and start bidding right away.

With Google Ads we only pay when someone clicks on or commits to our ad.

The interesting thing about Google Ads is that we can start bidding on any budget!

There are also many other excellent SEA platforms such as Bing Ads.

Bing’s SEA solution shows ads on the Bing network, which currently has around six billion searches per month.

There is no minimum fee, you only pay for clicks and you can test keywords and offers to maximise ROI.

The ROI (Return Of Investment) is the return generated by a given investment, less the cost of the investment itself. ROI is generally the measure…

Note that in Yahoo Search Ads and Bing are on the same network.

PPC on Social Networks

search engine marketing
PPC on Social Networks

Social networks also offer SEM advertising campaigns.

Facebook Ads, for example, allow you to post ads on Facebook, Instagram and other Audience Network apps/sites.

Simply set the budget, choose the ad format and place an offer at auction.

When users access our chosen social network, they will see our advertising campaign.

Search Engine Marketing – Search Engine Optimization

It is now clear that SEM combines SEO and SEA perfectly,

where applying SEO techniques we go to work to get on the front page of Google without investing in advertising,

while if we use the SEA we will improve visibility in the short term.

Our advice is that if you have enough time, focus on SEO and benefit by climbing search engine rankings, allowing you to stay on the first page of Google for a very long time.

Trust is important, with SEO you build your reputation online, while momentary visibility with SEA is accessible to anyone, just have the right budget.

If you need to sell now, focus on SEA. Make sure you don’t waste money, but keep improving your results. Use the Keywords tools we suggested above which are very useful.

Search Engine Marketing – Search Engine Optimization

If you have any doubts or concerns do not hesitate to write to us below in the comments,

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Search Engine Marketing – Search Engine Optimization


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