What’s SEM & Paid Search Marketing?

What's SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is the process of acquiring website traffic by purchasing ads on search engines.

Google ranks with several factors

“Search Engine Marketing” was once was used as an umbrella term to encompass both SEO (search engine optimization) and paid search activities. Over time, the industry has adopted the SEM acronym to refer solely to paid search.

  • Paid search ads
  • Paid search advertising
  • PPC (pay-per-click)
    • Some advertising, particularly those dealt by mobile search users, may be charged by the number of clicks which resulted in a direct smartphone call.
  • CPC (cost-per-click)
  • CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions)
    • Some search ads are sold on a CPC / PPC basis, but some CPM-based advertising options may also be sold.

SEM For Beginners

By many measures Google AdWords is the most common paid search platform used by search marketers followed by Bing Ads, which also serves a significant portion of the Yahoo ads.

Beyond that, the major social networks have a number of “2nd tier PPC platforms” as well as PPC ads options.

In addition to covering the general paid search trends the latest SEM news and helpful tips for getting started with PPC advertising can be found on the major search marketing platforms below:

  • Google: AdWords
  • Bing Ads
  • Yahoo: Search Ads

That platform offers its own guides and helpful tutorials to get started. Google’s Insider’s Guide To AdWords (PDF) is another beginner resource. The Google AdWords UI (user interface) has improved since the guide was last updated in 2008, along with several features, but the guide may still provide an useful introduction.

Pay By Clicking on Advertising Tips & Strategies

  • All PPC News & Articles include validated product features and announcements from our editorial staff’s major search advertising platforms plus expert analysis and real-world guidance from our network of writers.
  • How To: Pay Search is our section dedicated to practical tips and tactics regarding paid search ads.

Search Ads Archives: This search engine land area offers a selection of all the stories that we’ve written about paid search topics. There you’ll find additional sub-categories in paid search marketing for special topics including:

  • Search Ads: Behavioral Targeting
  • Search Ads: Contextual
  • Search Ads: Domaining
  • Search Ads: General
  • Search Ads: Mobile Search
  • Search Ads: Pay Per Call
  • Search Ads: Video
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