Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or “Search Marketing” is the process of using search engines on the internet to market your business. Search Engine Marketing consists of three parts: Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Local Business Search (Local SEO). It consists of these three parts because the search engine results page is divided into these different sections where your business can appear and each requires its own strategy.
Within the industry of digital marketing, the phrase “search engine marketing” has a history of what it actually means and its meaning has changed over time. Some (correctly) interpret it to be a blanket term since “marketing” is a blanket term, while others use it interchangeably with just paid search advertising (PPC) as if it doesn’t include SEO.
It is important to understand each part of search engine results pages (SERPs), because each requires a different strategy. The most popular search engine is Google with over 80% of the search market. Search engine competitors such as Bing, Yahoo and others also have significant user bases that you can reach. However, since Google dominates the market it’s normal practice to form strategy according to known Google preferences and appearing in other search engines often follows naturally.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC or CPC)
The top and bottom of the search engine results pages are dedicated to Pay-Per-Click advertising. This marketing strategy is often abbreviated as PPC which means “pay per click”, or CPC which means “cost per click”. This is the only area of the search results page where the search engines accept money for advertising. The search engines do not accept money to appear in other areas of the page.
An important formula to remember for pay-per-click advertising is quality plus bid amount (quality + bid amount). Notice how it has the common factor of “quality” with search engine optimization described below. While you may be paying for preferred placement, search engines still fulfill their purpose of connecting users with the correct content whether the marketer is paying the search engine or not. This area of the page receives about 20% of the total clicks. That number is dynamically changing, but it’s a good guideline. The leads from these clicks are very targeted leads. This means they’re looking and they’re getting ready to buy if the search is business-consumer related. PPC is the quickest way to drive traffic to your website.
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