SEM – Search Engine Marketing
You have probably heard of SEO – Search Engine Optimisation (if you haven’t – find out about it on my SEO page) so what is SEM all about? SEM goes hand in hand with SEO – it is it’s paid-for twin.
Whilst SEO is all about achieving better search result positions organically, without paying the search engine owners, SEM focuses on paid-for results – those sponsored or ‘Ad’ links at the top and bottom of search results.
Google Ads (which was Google AdWords) is the most well known but other search engines such as Microsoft Bing have their own, extremely powerful programmes known as PSA – Paid Search Advertising.
PSA programmes commonly use a PPC or Pay Per Click model – you pay for the Ad when someone searching clicks though. Sounds good yes?
It is, and PPC is a highly effective way of advertising – most people looking for answers to problems search online as their first port of call. However, it is not simple and it is very easy to pay out for clicks that have not been correctly targeted, there are several ways of getting it wrong!
PPC programmes work on a bid or auction basis – you bid on what you will pay for keywords and competition can be fierce. It’s a common misconception that small businesses cannot compete in this arena – that only bigger businesses with huge budgets can take part.
Who better to explain this than Googles Chief Economist Hal Varian – this video is a little dated now but it is still the best (and most authorative) that I have found which explains how Google ranks and charges for their PPC Ads. If you have just over 8 minutes spare, I highly recommend listening to what Hal has to say.