May 15, 2022

What is Search Engine Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

Suman Samal, Asst. Marketing Manager
Suman Samal
What is Search Engine Marketing: The Ultimate Guide
Suman Samal, Asst. Marketing Manager
Suman Samal
May 15, 2022

What is Search Engine Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

What is SEM, how it differs from SEO, and what you should understand to construct efficient paid search campaigns are all the questions this article will answer.
What is Search Engine Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

Table of contents

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is online advertising that uses search engines to reach potential buyers. It is a cost-effective way to reach your target audience, as it doesn’t require you to spend money on banners, pop-ups, or other annoying advertising methods.

Instead, you can use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to improve your website’s score and rank higher in the search engines. This will ensure that your website is easily discoverable by potential customers on the internet and can draw them in with your attractive offers.

What is SEM vs SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are two different but equally important techniques. SEM is an advertising system where advertisers pay search engines for the ad display. Whereas, SEO is the process of optimizing your website to improve its search engine ranking without paid advertising.

How does Search Engine Marketing Work and what factors affect it?

Search engines use complex algorithms to provide relevant results, considering location and other factors. Sponsored ads in paid search appear prominently on SERPs, and PPC advertising targets users when they're seeking information.

A successful SEM plan attracts high-quality visitors and enhances website SEO. To launch an SEM campaign, advertisers conduct keyword research, select relevant keywords, set a bid amount, and design a text ad. Text-only ads require a headline, body text, CTA, and URL.

In addition to traditional text ads, you can also advertise on platforms like YouTube, Instagram app, and a blog by creating video ad. Ensure that your ads are well-optimized and visually appealing, with attention-grabbing overlays or annotations. Furthermore, make sure your ads are mobile-friendly and optimized for desktop viewing.

Finally, keep track of your ad performance by monitoring key metrics in your Google Ads account, such as click-through rate, cost per click, and average ad duration.

Factors affecting SEM

Here is the list of factors that affect your SEM strategy:

Keyword Intent

The pay-per-click (PPC) strategy begins with selecting the appropriate keywords to bid on.

That entails researching which keywords to bid on or what queries you want your ad to appear for. Begin by thinking about brand names, product descriptions, and competitor descriptions.

Keyword Search Volume

This reflects the volume of searches for a particular keyword on a particular day. The higher the monthly keyword search volume, the higher the click-through rate (CTR) will be for your ads. The more people are searching for a particular keyword, the more likely they are to click on your ad.

Keyword Competition

Low-competition keywords will help your Ad succeed. Conversions and ROI increase. SEO agencies and consultants must use various SEO methods to help clients rank higher in search engines when competition is high. This lets them get more leads and customers from competitors. They can attract the right audience and potentially outperform their competitors.

CPC (Cost-Per-Click)

When you bid on search engine ads, you are charged based on the number of clicks your ad received, this is called Cost-Per-Click. Higher CPCs result in higher ad campaign costs and may not be suitable for attracting a large audience. Nevertheless, if you're targeting a small audience or running a limited number of ads, a high CPC can be beneficial.

Account Structure

Keyword research helps with account structure, and it can also help you think about how to group keywords logically.

There are various ways to structure a Google Ads campaign.

  • Ad: The text that shows up when you search for the words you want.
  • Keywords: You're bidding on keywords, which are the queries you want people to type in.
  • Ad group: Sets of keywords that are all about the same theme are put together in this group.
  • Campaign: Managing ad groups at the highest level is called a campaign.

What is working and what is not working will become clearer at each level. This shows you how your money is being spent and how it is being used.

SEM & Ad Auction

Google ads are auctioned before being displayed in the SERPs. You have to choose which keywords you want to bid on and how much you're willing to pay per click. Every Google search query starts an ad auction. If Google finds your bid terms in a search query, your ad will be auctioned.

Every Google Search ad won't appear. The ad auction considers many factors when placing ads on the SERP, and not every term has enough commercial intent to warrant ads.

Google prioritizes your maximum bid and Quality Score when auctioning ads.

What Makes a PPC Ad Effective?

Effective PPC ads target the right people at the right time. Your ad should be focused on a very specific segment of your target audience. With this information, it’s easy to write an effective ad campaign that will attract visitors who are likely to convert into customers.

An effective ad campaign is an integral part of SEM strategy as it shows your company’s ad offers at the right place. Furthermore, SEM goes a step ahead by increasing brand awareness and driving traffic to your website.

How to Build an Effective SEM Strategy?

Perform Keyword Research

Conduct keyword research to identify phrases used by your target audience. Sort by popularity to determine top search terms. Look for keywords that have a high conversion rate and are relevant to your sales funnel. Consider the desired ROI for your ads and select keywords with a CPC that generates a positive ROI.

Create Enticing Ad Copy

Follow these SEM campaign click-boosting tips:

  • Advertise with the keyword.
  • Explain your benefit or solution.
  • Ad copy should reflect search intent.
  • Include Prices and promotions, if applicable.
  • Include a clear CTA.

Use Scalenut's ad writer template to align ads with your brand voice and relevant keywords.

Achieve Better Quality Score

Quality Score affects the ad frequency and your budget. The best practice is to incorporate the target keywords in your ad copy and landing page to boost the quality score. This also informs search engine marketing platforms that ads and URL are relevant to the searcher's goal.

Regularly Optimize SEM Campaign

To optimize your SEM campaigns, it's essential to perform regular keyword research and make necessary changes to your ad copy. Measure your campaign's effectiveness using tools like Google Analytics and take corrective action when needed. Use new search terms in your ad copy and remove negative keywords to boost visibility while avoiding budget waste.


Q.  How important is conducting keyword research for a successful SEM campaign?

Ans. Targeting the right keywords is crucial in SEM to find high-quality, relevant terms for your business. Paid ads may appear above organic search results on Google, and placing your ad prominently can increase its effectiveness. Good search marketing aims to reach potential customers when they're ready to buy, requiring some initial work. Utilizing SEO or AI copywriting tools can help write effective Google Ads.

Q. Are Bing Webmaster guidelines different from Google?

Ans: Bing Webmaster Guidelines resemble Google's. They may differ slightly. Google considers keywords and context. Bing emphasizes on exact keyword. Bing rewards websites with videos and photos more than Google.

Q. Is there a difference between SEM and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising?

Ans: PPC is the same as the SEM. Both PPC and SEM are part of advertising in search engines.

Q. Is SEO better than PPC?

Ans: Some businesses may find that SEM and PPC are equally effective in reaching their target audience, while others may believe that PPC boasts a higher return on investment (ROI). Ultimately, it depends on the business specifics and goals. SEO can improve website value and consistency. PPC can help you quickly reach a specific audience if your website isn't optimized for search engines.

What are some of the best keyword research tools for Search Engine Marketing?

Ans. Though there are various SEM tools in the industry, the best one should be accurate and accustomed to paid advertising. The best SEM marketing tools are Ahrefs, SEMRush, SpyFu, and Google Keyword Planner.

Q. Is SEM a paid advertising campaign?

Ans: Yes, SEM is a paid advertising campaign. However, it is not just about buying ads but also optimizing the website for better results in search engines.


Understand what SEM is and its benefits, and start planning your strategy using cost-effective paid methods to reach your target audience.

Scalenut's AI copywriter can assist you in creating compelling Google ad copies and brand-aligned content, including for LinkedIn ads, landing page hero text, and Facebook primary text.

Sign up for Scalenut for free and generate copies for your landing page, ad, and LinkedIn ads in a matter of minutes.

Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager
ABout the AUTHOR
Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager

Suman Samal is a Asst. Marketing Manager at Scalenut. She is a technology enthusiast with a keen interest in content marketing and SEO. She truly believes that with the right set of tools every organization can improve the ROI of their content marketing campaigns. She spends her time managing content operations at Scalenut and ensuring that everything we publish is of the highest quality.

View all articles by this Author -->
Thank you!
Our Product Specialist will connect with you shortly. In the meanwhile, please explore Scalenut
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Create SEO-Ready Blog with Scalenut
Try Scalenut for Free
Boost Your SEO Game