An Introduction to SEM And How It Relates to SEO

There are millions of businesses out there. And they’re all competing for the same set of eyeballs. If you consider yourself to be a frequent digital buyer, or just an average consumer that likes to research and shop for products online, you’re only one of the 2.14 billion online shoppers worldwide. In fact, the search engine market has an even greater advantage over the social media market. When online consumers enter search queries to find information on specific products and services, they do so with an ultimate intent of making a purchase. Social media sites on the other hand, are intrusive in that they constantly market products that consumers aren’t explicitly interested in at that point in time. Search engine marketing tends to hit the sweet spot in that department, reaching the right people at the right time.

What exactly is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an internet marketing strategy that relies on using paid advertising to give a website higher rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and an increased search visibility. In order to ensure that the most relevant results are given for each search, search engines make use of complicated algorithms. When consumers enter a search, sponsored ads appear both at the top and at the side of the search engine results page. This is called paid search advertising. And these ads are known as pay-per-click (PPC) ads.

Pay-per-click ads come in a variety of formats. Some ads can be text-based and small, whereas others can be much more visual and product-based (such as product listings ads or shopping ads). The pay-per-click model is mostly associated with Google. Its name derives from the notion that every single time a consumer clicks on an ad, the advertiser has to pay a fee. The basic objective of pay-per-click is to generate leads, increase sales, and promote brand awareness.

But let’s go back to SEM and try to understand where exactly it fits into the world of digital marketing. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) are two strategies that are often used interchangeably but are very different in essence. Both fall under the umbrella term Search Marketing.

Search Marketing can refer to any tactic that increases a brand’s search visibility. This can include an organic SEO strategy, a paid SEM strategy, or both. SEO usually seeks to use tactics that organically improve search visibility. Here, more clicks aren’t earned by businesses paying Google. Instead, businesses receive a free spot within the search results which is dependent on the relevancy of the website content for a given keyword. SEM, on the other hand, relies on optimizing paid search ads. SEM helps your business’s product or service reach at the top of a SERP when a consumer makes a search entry, in different ways from SEO. For example, a new site that has just been launched will benefit more from a paid ad as it will take a lesser amount of time to be visible in the search engine results page. However, solely relying on SEM can be disadvantageous for your business since organic strategies have proven to do wonders. While choosing the appropriate strategy for search marketing depends on the specific needs of the business in question, it is crucial to remember that SEO and SEM need to co-exist in some way or another.

The most predominant SEM platforms are Google and Bing. Google Ads is the most prevailing SEM platform. Given that there are billions of Google searches being made every single day, it’s the easiest and the most effective way to reach a large online audience. Bind Ads on the other hand, and their partnership with Yahoo and MSN, might help you connect with 3 million other users that Google can’t reach.

The most central part of an SEM strategy are the keywords that you target/avoid in your campaign. Keywords can be classified into four main types:

  • Broad Match – This type of keyword targets the many variation of a single word or phrase. For example, for a target keyword car insurance, the campaign may also target “automobile insurance”, “two-wheeler insurance”, and “insure a car”.
  • Phrase Match – These keywords target the exact phrase, in addition to phrases with words that either come before or after the target keyword. So, for car insurance, a campaign might target “car insurance policy available in Kuwait” or “get car insurance”.
  • Exact Match – A keyword that targets closely related words that have the same search intent as the original keyword. This includes abbreviations, plural forms, and misspellings. With a keyword like car insurance, a campaign would also target “car insurances” or “cars insurance”.
  • Negative Keywords – Negative keywords turn out to be just as important because you don’t want to end up including keywords that you don’t intend to target. Failing to exclude these keywords might prevent your advertisement from displaying for your selected keywords. These keywords are usually various combinations of broad match, phrase match, and exact match keywords that may have semantic relevance to your target keywords but are unrelated to your campaign. For instance, the target keyword car insurance can also include “car insurance student discount” and “car insurance lawyer”, which might be irrelevant to your business.

In order to create an effective SEM campaign, thorough research and careful strategy is required, both before and after your campaign is up and running. SEM is essential if you want your target audience to easily see your products and services. It is arguably one of the most powerful ways to grow your business. It helps you optimize your campaign such that you reach more people, drive traffic, maximize your budget, and boost conversions.

Design Master is committed to optimize your site by increasing brand visibility, website credibility, and implementing long term positioning. Being one of the best online marketing agencies in Kuwait, we specialize in search engine promotion and optimization. We emphasize on effective SEM strategies by taking special care of the quality and richness of content, on-page optimization, and volume of your website traffic. We strive to create specialized SEM strategies for our clients and continue to make our mark among the best digital marketing companies in Kuwait.

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