SEM: know search engine marketing and how to use it to boost your brand digital presence

By June 2, 2020No Comments

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a set of strategies to increase the authority of a company digital channels in search engines, integrating online advertising ads to organic positioning actions.

Sometimes it seems like all digital terms are acronyms, right? SEO, SEM, CPC, CPM… At first glance, we would think that these have hidden meanings that only experts can understand.

Fortunately, that not true! And today you are about to find out, as you will know what SEM is, its advantages, disadvantages and some key concepts you should know to implement it and put your brand under the spotlight of the digital scene.

What is SEM?

The acronym SEM means: Search Engine Marketing. In theory, it encompasses all the actions aimed at positioning your brand in search engines, including SEO (the optimization of pages to obtain a better positioning in organic search engine results).

In practice, SEM refers only to paid search engine advertising campaigns such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.

SEM helps improve brand visibility and target qualified audiences (people who meet specific characteristics) to your website quickly.

For practical purposes, from here on we will continue to refer to SEM as a paid advertising tool

Advantages of SEM

  • It works faster than SEO , giving you short and medium term results. On the other hand, SEO works in the long term (although it still needs to be implemented).
  • The SEM allows you to segment and bring to your website only the audience you are interested in.
  • It helps to increase the visibility of your brand.
  • SEM tools like Google Adwords allow you to generate conversions and measure them, monitor your campaigns in real time and make adjustments.
  • You can advertise with small budgets. You decide yourself how much you want to invest each day and how much you want to pay for each click on your ad.
  • In addition to appearing in search engine results, you can do so on websites that have some relationship with your brand.

Disadvantages of SEM

  • Unlike SEO, SEM is a disruptive practice , as it provides information not requested by the user.
  • People who use ad blockers may not see your content.
  • It only works as long as you pay. That why you have to define very well how much you$0027re going to invest.
  • There are many brands competing for the same keywords. This makes costs rise and makes it increasingly difficult to position oneself.

SEM and SEO: how do they differ?

Costs for search engine positioning

Up to this point in the reading we understand that SEM is known as the publications that appear in the first positions of the search engines and in which the advertiser pays for each click received from users.

SEO, on the other hand, is more about the work done on the website to optimize its content and make it more visible to search engines.

Speed of results

One of the main differences is the time in which the results can be seen. Obviously, being a payment tool, SEM generates results immediately.

But if you stop paying, you stop seeing those strategic changes. Instead, when you apply SEO, the strategy begins to pay off over a longer period of time.

Performance Predictability

The way to control these tools is also different.

With SEM it is easier to establish investment guidelines, hang campaigns or take them out of circulation at the time we decide because of course we are paying to be in control.

With SEO, you can control the strategy you use and the content you generate but you don$0027t have the ability to accurately measure whether you$0027re on track or not.

Investment size

The investment costs are also different for these two positioning tools.

As we have already said, the SEM is a paid tool, the user has to make an investment in the search engine in order to generate his campaigns.

SEO, on the other hand, does not require economic investment, but rather creativity, since good positioning is achieved naturally and thanks to the algorithms of the search engines.

Search Engine Optimization

These two strategies also differ in their search engine placement.

Publications with a SEM strategy are generally published at the top of the portal or on its right-hand side and are often identified as advertisements.

As for SEO publications, the central area of the page appears.

Keyword management

Keywords and published content also vary depending on the Digital Marketing tool used.

In the case of SEM positioning, it is much simpler because there are no limits in choosing the keywords to be used and as for the content, it must be more precise and related to the chosen keywords and a structure that denotes sales intention.

In the case of SEO, there are limitations on the number of keywords to choose from in order to achieve a good positioning and in terms of content it is essential to have quality material that is interesting and attractive to the reader.

12 essential concepts for making a SEM strategy

1. Adwords

It a Google tool that allows you to advertise online. You can create ads to appear in Google search results or on web pages that are related to the keywords.

2. Keyword

These are the words and/or phrases that are written in the search engine when a search is made.

The search engine gives the results most closely related to that keyword, so you should choose very carefully which terms you want to be found with. Use tools to find keywords such as the Google Keyword Planner.

3. Advertising group

These are several ads that respond to the same group of keywords.

For example, if you have a fashion store and want to promote a new line of dresses, you can choose several keywords and create several ads for this purpose. This allows you to analyze which ad is more effective.

4. Campaign

The campaigns are made up of groups of advertisements. Following the example of the fashion store, a campaign would consist of a group of ads for dresses, another for trousers and another for blouses.

5. Search network

These are the places where your ads will appear.

This can be at the top or right of the results page, on Google sites (Google Play, Google Shopping and Google Maps) or on search partners in the Google display network, such as YouTube.

6. Prints

It the number of times your ads are shown. Every time your ad appears in Google results or on another site in the search network, it considered an impression.

7. Clicks

Number of times the banners of your ads are clicked. These allow you to know if a particular ad is attractive to those who see it.

8. CTR

It means Click Through Rate. It is the number of clicks that each of your ads receive in relation to the number of impressions.

It is calculated as a percentage and helps to measure the impact of your campaigns.

9. Daily budget

It the maximum value you$0027re willing to pay each day. It up to you.

10. CPC offers

CPC stands for Cost Per Click. It is the average value you are willing to pay for each click on your ads. You can define a maximum CPC to avoid going over your daily budget.

You have the option of choosing between manual or automatic CPC offers.

In the latter case, Google adjusts the maximum CPC for you to get the most clicks from your daily budget.

We recommend that you focus on one type of CPC offering if you are looking to generate traffic to your website.

11. CPM offers

CPM stands for Cost Per Mille, or the cost per thousand impressions. In this case you don$0027t pay per click, but for the number of times your ad appears.

If your strategy is more oriented to generating reach than traffic, this is the option for you.

12. Quality level

This is an estimate by Google of the quality of your ads, landing page and keywords.

The higher the quality, the lower the prices and the better the position of the ad.

How to make a SEM strategy?

Now that you know how the SEM tool works, its advantages and how it differs from other practices such as SEO, it is worthwhile to see how to make a SEM strategy that is effective.

Before starting your SEM campaign you should determine very well:

  • objectives (scope, traffic, conversions…),
  • target audience, location, search intentions, etc,
  • keywords,
  • budget,
  • landing page for your ads,
  • competition,
  • campaigns and ad groups,
  • contents of the ads.

Once you have all the necessary data then you can start designing the different ads that will be fundamental in your campaign.

In this sense, it is recommended that you take all the time you need to create a campaign with attractive content, which invites the user to click on it and above all, which provides him with interesting information.

At this point, in addition to selecting good content, you will have to focus your attention on the distribution of keywords that will help you get the desired results as the case may be.

Another point you should take into account, especially when you are getting started with this digital marketing tool, is the continuous monitoring of your campaigns.

Remember that you are making a monetary investment, with which it is convenient to make the necessary adjustments so that your campaign is effective and at the same time you do not waste your investment.

It is true that with digital advertising, the chances of a company growing are greater, but you have to start slowly, try and discard what does not work to strengthen, mainly your name and your presence.

In this sense it is recommended that you pay special attention to extensions that help enrich your ads and of course their visibility when a user performs a search.

For example: add the location and contact number of your business, links to different publications on your website, which you consider to be of interest. Also choose to rotate your ads more frequently so you can get more clicks.


Before starting your SEM campaign you should determine very well:

  • objectives (scope, traffic, conversions…),
  • target audience, location, etc,
  • keywords,
  • budget,
  • landing page for your ads,
  • campaigns and ad groups,
  • contents of the ads.

Remember that, although effective, SEM campaigns must go hand in hand with SEO. So don$0027t forget to optimize your pages by providing quality content – that combination will be key to making your brand shine on the digital marketing scene!

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