By Alex Fetanat, GemFind
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Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a strategy used to increase a websites visibility in the search engine results page (SERP). Search engines such as Google are used billions of times a day by people looking for information, entertainment, products to purchase, etc.There are two basic ways to make your website appear higher in the SERP. One way is by Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the other is through Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
What Is Search Engine Marketing?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a strategy used to increase a websites visibility in the search engine results page (SERP). Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing are used billions of times a day by people looking for information, entertainment, products to purchase, etc. Since Google continues to be the most used search engine this article will focus on Google as the main search engine.
There are two basic ways to make your website appear higher in the SERP. One way is by Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the other is through Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
SEO focuses on improving a website to increase ranking in the results page. This can be done by placing certain keywords throughout the website, getting links to your site from other websites (link building), and, basically, having relevant content for the given keyword search. SEM on the other hand is basically paying to show up higher on the SERP for keywords you are targeting. SEM is also known as pay-per-click (PPC) or paid search ads.
Currently, if you were to do a search for “engagement rings” on Google.com you’ll likely see the first few results have a box with the word “Ad” next to the listing. This indicates that someone is paying to have their website listing show up higher in the results. The first listing without the word “Ad” is the first organic result. This page earned that position without paying for the placement.
SEO vs SEM, which is better?
While both strategies work and several sites rely on both paid and organic traffic to run their business, they are very different and don’t have to work independent of each other. Trying to show up for the top organic position on a SERP is not easy and can take several months to see results. With SEM you can have your website show up on the top of a SERP within a matter of minutes.
SEO is free, while SEM can cost a lot of money and can be risky if not done correctly. With most SEM campaigns the advertiser is paying per click on the listing. These clicks can range in anywhere from a few cents to up to $50-60 per click depending on the keyword. Google search ad prices are based on an auction format with advertisers trying to outbid each other for the higher spots on the SERP. A keyword such as “engagement rings” can cost $1-9 dollars per click depending on the location, competition, how well the ad resonates with the searcher, and several other factors. If not done right, SEM can get expensive with just a few clicks and no results.
SEM Gives You Control
The first paid results on a webpage are considered ads and advertisers can change the text on these ads, change the link that the ad goes to, and test several different ads to see which is most effective. The organic listings on the page are a lot harder to change and have less flexibility.
With SEM you can also establish a budget for your advertisement campaigns and experiment with different offers to see which brings in the most revenue. This is very difficult to do with SEO. You can also become very granular with your SEM campaigns and limit them to a certain location or demographic. This action allows you to save money by showing your ads to the right people.