Search Engine Marketing: What It Is?

What is search engine marketing? What does SEM mean?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a branch of online marketing. SEM deals with all measures to position a website for keywords in the organic and paid area of ​​search engines. Sub-areas of search engine marketing are SEO and search engine advertising.

SEM (search engine marketing) is subdivided into the areas  SEA ( Search Engine Advertising ), to keyword advertising referred and SEO ( Search Engine Optimization ). SEO deals with organic search results, while SEA is paid text ads in search engines.


What are the definitions for search engine marketing (SEM)?

There are two different definitions for the term SEM in the industry.

  1. SEM = SEA
  2. SEM = SEO + SEA

The second definition has become established over the years. To clarify the confusion a little bit, here is my reason why SEM = SEO + SEA is the better definition.

The term SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. If you look at the definition of the term marketing, then advertising is only a partial area, and thus the equation marketing = advertising would not be correct. Accordingly, the equation search engine advertising = search engine marketing cannot be entirely correct.

Overview: Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

If you are looking for an offline counterpart to SEO or search engine optimization, you can find similarities to PR work. And PR is part of marketing in the broadest sense. So why shouldn’t SEO be part of search engine marketing?

The one defines search engine marketing as follows: “Search engine marketing includes all measures to attract qualified visitors through search results pages in search engines.”


What is the difference between the search engine marketing channels Google Ads (formerly AdWords) and the organic search results?

A look at the search engine results at Google for short SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) makes it clear that search engine marketing focuses on four essential areas. On the one hand, there are the paid SEA ads and natural or organic search results.

These are subdivided into the “normal” search results (brown), Knowledge Graph and, if applicable, universal search overlays, which are derived from results of vertical searches such as Google Images Search, Google News, Google Videos, and Assemble Google+ Local / Maps. Google operates its indices for the respective formats.

search engine marketing

Search engine marketing with SEO

Search engine optimization deals with organic search results. The organic search hits include the classic “Ten Blue Links” as well as elements from the vertical search or universal search. The aim is to increase the presence of websites in the SERPs and the visibility in web search engines in general through targeted measures.


Search engine marketing with SEA

Search engine advertising, SEA for short, is paid advertising within the search results pages (SERPs). Google Ads or Google AdWords, is the most relevant SEA system worldwide. At first glance, search engine advertising with Google Ads appears to be a simple undertaking. But the competition is fierce, and it takes a lot of know-how and experience to make Google Ads campaigns profitable.


Other terms related to SEM

The following terms appear again and again in connection with SEM:

  • PPC advertising
  • SEA
  • Google AdWords / Google Ads
  • SEO
  • Search advertising
  • Search Engine marketing

But what does that mean now?

PPC Advertising describes all paid forms of advertising that pay per click. This includes search engine advertising such as Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), but also banner campaigns in the “Google Display Network” or via other internet platforms. For me, text advertising or affiliate marketing campaigns are also part of PPC advertising, provided that they are billed on a CPC basis (“cost per click”).


What role does SEM play in online marketing?

SEO or search engine optimization deals with the optimization of the presence of websites in the organic search results pages, the so-called Search Engine Result Pages for short SERPs. SEO consists of the sub-areas on-page optimization and off-page optimization or link building.

SEA or search engine advertising focuses on the advertisement part within the search engines and is also referred to as keyword advertising. At the same time, SEA is a sub-area of ​​paid online advertising (paid advertising) and  PPC advertising  ( pay per click advertising).

Search engine advertising is one of the paid online forms of advertising that are billed via clicks. Other forms of PPC advertising include switching display ads, social media advertising such as Facebook ads, XING advertising … or video ads on YouTube or in the Google Display Network,  or GDN for short.


What are the advantages of search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing is with the sub-regions Search engine optimization shortly SEO and paid search advertising, short- SEA ( Search Engine Advertising ) to win one of the most effective ways customers. While many other forms of marketing suffer from wastage, SEM can target groups via search queries or keywords. Search engine advertising and search engine optimization are pulled channels.

What is the significance of SEM in online marketing?

Almost every Internet user uses search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing to navigate the World Wide Web to find products, services or just information. Google is by far the most relevant search engine with almost 90% of the market. According to a forecast by Statista, companies invest large parts of their online marketing budget in SEM in the form of search engine advertising.


Search engine marketing in the customer journey

Depending on the strategy, search engine marketing is used as a channel in the middle phases of the customer journey. Her determine the booked or optimized search terms for search intent a special role. They can be classified in the customer journey:

Search intent of keywords in search engine marketing in the customer journey

Search engine advertising is more likely to be used for the consideration, preference and purchase phase due to the click behavior in the SERPs. When users search for objective information, they are more likely to click on organic search hits and not on advertisements.


What are the differences between search engine marketing and advertising?

In contrast to classic advertising, search engine marketing is less suitable for increasing reach or building a brand due to its pull character. In return, it is still one of the most effective marketing channels for directly increasing sales of products, lead generation, sales, website visitors … The aim of the SEM should be to combine SEO and SEA to ensure that the company gains as much space or attention as possible in the search engines.


Do you need an SEM agency?

Sooner or later, every company will ask itself the question of a service provider for search engine marketing as soon as it comes into contact with the topic of SEM. This question can not be answered, generally. It depends on your own goals and competition.

Companies that have staked out their target groups regionally and whose industry is not particularly competitive will also be able to achieve initial success or noticeable benefits without much help from an SEM agency.

Nevertheless, getting started with AdWords and SEO advice makes sense to avoid costly mistakes right from the start. Even with AdWords optimization, for example, some experience means using the click budget as effectively as possible.


In summary: Frequently asked questions about SEM

Below is a summary of common questions about search engine marketing.

What does SEM mean?

There are two different definitions for the term SEM in the industry. SEM = Search Engine Advertising SEM = Search Engine Advertising and Search Engine Optimization Over the years, the second definition has prevailed. To clarify the confusion a little bit, here is my reason why SEM = SEO + SEA is the better definition.

What are the tasks in search engine marketing?

Depending on whether you want to do SEA or SEO in search engine marketing, the tasks are largely very different. When it comes to search engine advertising, you move within the framework specified by the respective SEA system. Due to the vague requirements of Google, SEO is all about creativity and logical thinking. Nevertheless, identical, recurring measures can be recorded for both areas:

  • Set up tools, accounts, campaigns, ad groups, ad text …
  • Keyword research
  • Keyword analysis
  • Traffic Analysis
  • Testing
  • optimization

What does search engine marketing cost?

Search engine marketing is theoretically possible from 1 cent since it is billed per click. However, the click prices for most keywords are between 10 cents and a few dollars.

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