Just what the heck is SEM?

What is Search Engine Marketing?

It has now become much easier to set up a website. Now anyone can setup a website in any niche, and it is starting to become a problem. There are too many websites in just about every niche, and it is difficult for a website to stand out.

It has in fact become so difficult that it has led to the rise of a new industry: Online Advertising. Before, when it was just a few hundred websites on the Internet, there was no need to pay for getting more exposure.


Now, with millions of sites of there, it is necessary to reach for your wallet if you want to get substantial exposure. The market is so saturated that it is practically impossible to be successful without paying for advertising.

There are various way to advertise online, such as social-media advertising, blog advertising and more. However, there is only one true tried and tested solution to your woes: Search Engine Advertising. Why is it so effective? Well, lets say your product is preferred by a certain subsection of the population. Instead of blindly sending out advertisements, with search engine advertising, you can actually target only that subset of the population. How does this happen?

Well, lets say you are a coffeehouse in New York. You need more customers. Suppose you target the people in New York who use queries like: 'Nearby coffee-houses', 'Good coffeehouse in New York', etc, you can get a high conversion rate. This is because the hardest part of the job is already done: Get people interested. Since the already showed an interest in wanting your product, there is high-chance of them choosing your product.

However, for every query, there is limited advertising space at the top and bottom of the results page. Google does now allow for bidding wars where advertisers compete with higher bids for getting into the search results. While the bid does play a factor. Google generally considers the experience of its users.

With billions of searches being conducted every day, Google has a lot of data about its users. This means that it knows how relevant an advertisement is to a query. It knows how effective your website and more importantly, your landing page is. It knows how unique your content is. It can accurately estimate the clickthrough rate, engagement rates and conversion rates just by analyzing your advertisements and website. These factors all come together when Google decides whom to give advertisement space to.

The techniques used to ensure that your advertisements get the best exposure are collectively known as Search Engine Marketing. Search Engine Marketing also includes paid search engine advertising, not just techniques to get more exposure. Earlier, when the distinction wasn't as clear, Search Engine Optimization too came under the umbrella of Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Now, it is basically just paid advertising, and the techniques used to get more exposure. Like SEO, SEM is also a complex and dynamic field, and is needed for advertisers looking to get the best bang for your buck.

However, you must not devote your entire time to SEO and SEM. Focus on good content, while applying some SEO and SEM techniques, and you would be golden.

Good luck!