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Published August 22, 2018

“Search engine marketing” “SEM” “PPC” – if you have come across these terms but don’t fully understand what they mean, you are the right place! We’re here to take you through the basics of paid search marketing.

What is search engine marketing (SEM)?

SEM is a type of internet marketing, conducted via paid advertising on search engines. Earlier, marketers used this term for both search engine optimization and paid ad listings, but now we use it exclusively for the latter. Unlike regular online advertising, SEM offers better visibility for your products/services on search engine results pages (SERPs). That’s why it is an effective marketing practice that you can use to grow your business.

Understanding Google AdWords

To get started with an SEM campaign on Google, advertisers bid on targeted top-ranking keywords via an ad platform. Most of them use Google AdWords platform, while some prefer Yahoo’s Bing Ads. These targeted keywords are what the potential customers may enter into a search engine when they want to look for specific products or services. When someone searches for these keywords, the advertisers paid ads will appear as sponsored links beside the regular organic results on SERPs.

Image via Danny Brown

Pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns

SEM campaigns run on PPC ads. This model of advertising requires the advertiser to pay a fixed amount (cost per click or CPC) whenever anyone clicks on their ad. Some advertisers may also opt for cost per thousand impressions (cost per mile or CPM) bidding, wherein a fixed fee has to be paid when the ad receives a 1000 impressions. In this scenario, each instance that the ad appears on a SERP is counted as one impression. PPC ads come in different formats. They can be merely text-based and small-sized. Other types like product listing ads (e-commerce ads) can be more detailed; they may include images, pricing information and other product details.

Image via Lyfe Marketing

Search engine marketing can be a powerful tool for marketers to display their ads to potential customers. In comparison to other advertising mediums, SEM can lead to higher conversions, as they are presented to motivated customers who are interested in purchasing a specific product or service. That’s why it should form an integral part of your internet marketing strategy when you want to boost online sales.

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