Among the many marketing acronyms out there, SEM (search engine marketing) is one to remember for measurable business results.

SEM is the practice of promoting your business online through paid search ads found on the results pages when you search on sites like Google, Bing, Yahoo or Amazon. Commonly referred to as Pay-Per-Click or Cost-Per-Click, SEM has a longstanding reputation as a top contender for marketing a business online.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between SEM and SEO. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of growing organic (or unpaid) search engine results. It includes a series of optimizations to your website that help drive traffic, improve clicks and increase overall awareness. SEM, on the flipside, is a way of paying for positioning on search engine results pages, driving visits to your site.

The big question for many marketers: if SEO is unpaid, why would I also pay for SEM? There are several compelling reasons.

SEM is (nearly) immediate

SEO is valuable, but it takes time – a lot of time. Some aspects of SEO can take six months or more to affect site performance, and it has been reported that content can take up to two years to rank. That’s a lot of waiting to build your brand awareness! SEM is the fastest way to be number one. The results it generates are almost immediate, and it’s incredibly accessible. Even the smallest company can invest to get to the top!

SEM delivers significant ROI

According to Hubspot, SEM has a 700% return on investment (ROI), and advertisers make $8 for every $1 they spend on search ads. While investing in advertising can sometimes feel like it’s eating a hole in your budget, it’s hard not to allocate some marketing spend with average returns like that.

SEM captures leads and insights

SEM is conversion-motivated and captures leads at the bottom of the purchase funnel. It provides competitive comparisons, as well as share of voice data. Seeing how you stack up against the competition is important to any business. With SEM, even if your competitors are spending considerable dollars, you can outrank them by outbidding them and essentially redirecting traffic to your site. In addition, SEM offers a steady source of traffic, driven by chosen keywords, that will generate clicks even when SEO traffic fluctuates.

SEM offers a range of functionalities

SEM is also a diverse marketing channel, and while text-based ads are the most common, there are many other functionalities these platforms offer, such as display ads, app install ads, retargeting ads, video ads, shopping ads and call tracking capabilities.

For businesses both large and small, whether B2B or B2C, SEM creates meaningful benefits. You should keep it top of list when looking for ways to market your business online.


For more insights on communication and brand strategy, industry trends and more, subscribe today to the Weekly Buzz here.