What is SEM and How Do You Use It for Your Site?

What is SEM and How Do You Use It for Your Site

SEM is one of the many acronyms you’ll hear in the digital marketing world. The trouble is, what does it actually mean?

Despite the fact that it’s just three simple words, SEM isn’t actually that simple. 

To help you get a better understanding of what it is, we’ve put together a handy guide. Here’s what you need to know about SEM and how to use it for your site. 

What Is SEM?

To get started understanding SEM, let’s talk about what it’s not. Many people confuse SEO with SEM. 

However, while both help boost your business’s online presence, these two concepts have some pretty big differences from each other. 

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. It’s a series of marketing tools and strategies that allow you to increase the visibility of your website.

Now, what’s interesting is that SEM can refer to either paid or unpaid efforts. In general, however, you’ll hear it used to refer to paid efforts such as ad campaigns. Still, in theory, SEM refers to any type of marketing for your brand’s position in search engines. 

SEM Examples

To break it down further, let’s take a look at a couple of examples of SEM. 

One example could be if you search for plane tickets, let’s say from NYC to Boston. When you type that search into Google, you’ll see three different websites pop up at the top of your results pages. If you look closely, you’ll see they say ‘ad’ in the top right hand corner. 

These are examples of paid SEM efforts

Another example could be if you search for a particular product on Google. What shows up is a list of products with various prices, all listed as part of the ‘Shopping’ tab. Again, these are examples of paid SEM efforts. 

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of SEM?

Okay, so you know what SEM is. But, should you use it or not?

To determine whether or not SEM is a strategy you should pursue, let’s look at a couple of pros and cons of this type of marketing. 

The advantages of SEM are quite clear and objective:

  • Increased traffic to your website.
  • Open the doors for your product to face great competitors.
  • Publicize your product on a larger scale. 
  • Generally offer a faster return on investment.

Of course, there are some issues with SEM as well. A few of these include:

  • Overbudgeting risks: if you don’t optimize your strategy wisely, it’s easy to overspend your budget without achieving real results
  • Success according to investment: your budget has a direct impact on the success of your campaign; reduce your budget and you reduce your visibility
  • High cost: you’ll need a good amount of ad spend in order to produce real results from your campaign. 

Think about these pros vs cons of SEM to get a better idea of whether or not it’s right for you. And remember—every business is different. What works for the competition won’t necessarily work well for you. 

SEM Tools in Digital Marketing

When it comes to SEM in digital marketing, there are two main tools people are familiar with: 

  1. Google Ads
  2. Social Ads

Google Ads

Google is the most used search engine worldwide, with 92% of use over other search engines. That makes it one of the best tools for ads due to the high amount of traffic.

Google ads display your website at a set cost per click a user makes on your ad. 

Social Ads

Social ads are advertisements run on popular social media platforms. Currently, Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular social ad platforms. 

How to Use SEM on Your Website?

If you’ve done the research and weighed the pros and cons only to find that SEM is for you, you’ll need to know how to get started. 

Of course, this is a multi-faceted problem that requires a good deal of effort and experience. 

However, we’ll help you out by walking you through the basics of SEM. 

Step One: Choose Your Keywords

Before doing anything else, you need to list the most relevant keywords for your brand. The key is to choose words that have low competition but have the potential to be used as a search indicator. 

If this sounds complicated, don’t panic. PPC platforms like Google Ads have keyword tools that allow you to conduct searches to pull this type of information. 

Remember, when you choose keywords well, you’ll be able to rank your ads and reduce costs per click. 

Step Two: Develop Your Website Content

Once you’ve chosen your keywords, you’re still not ready to simply launch an ad. You’ve got to first make sure that your website is up to snuff!

Having good content on the website will help make it more eye-catching and compelling. Since users will be taken to your site once they click on your ad, you need to make sure it meets these goals. 

Step Three: Figure Out Your Search Campaign Strategy

With the preemptive work done, it’s time to map out your short- and long-term goals. This helps you determine what keywords you should chase initially, how to distribute your budget, and other key pieces of information for determining an SEM strategy. 

This is also the place to figure out whether you’ll be using both organic and paid search efforts or just focusing on one of the two. 

Regardless of which route you choose, make a detailed plan of how you’ll start to win traffic. 

Step Four: Launch Your Campaign

With the strategy out of the way, you’re ready for launch! 

Keep in mind that no matter what strategy you’re pursuing, you need to make sure that you’re focusing on those keywords you determined in step one. 

You also need to make sure you have proper lead captures in place, whether that’s through an ad or a contact form. Doing so helps ensure that you actually connect with your customers and entice them to take a specific action on your site. 

Learn How to Use SEM Efficiently

Launching a successful SEM campaign requires time, patience, and trial and error. However, when used correctly, it can be a powerful tool for positioning your site on SERPs. 

If you need help with your digital content and improving your website traffic, contact CJ Content Co. We’ll help you develop an SEM strategy that propels your site forward and helps you dominate your market. 

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