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What Is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a marketing strategy that involves the promotion of a website by increasing their visibility among search engine results pages (SERPs).  The caveat here is that the promotion, unlike the organic nature of SEO, is handled using paid advertising.  Some confusion comes because SEM may incorporate aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) while working to achieve higher rankings on the SERPs.

Of the variants of SEM, most people are able to easily associate with pay per click (PPC) advertising such as Google AdWords.  The reason SEO and SEM often work in unison is because it is important to provide quality, relevant information/content on your website and that your landing pages reflect the information portrayed through your ad.  When done correctly, paid advertising is one of the fastest, most efficient method for driving quality leads to your website.


Why should my company consider SEM?
Most businesses today are, or should be, investing about 30% of their budget toward marketing.  The problem that many business owners have is that they are stuck in a mindset that the most effective way to market is limited to television, radio, newspaper, email blasts, or the phone book.  It has worked in the past and it continues to bring in customers.  And a common question asked; Why would I mess with what is already working?

With the possible exception of email blasts, these methods don’t provide you with targeted methods for producing the quality leads that you are looking for.  Yes, you may be seeing enough results to justify the expense.  But if you could save money, reach more of your desired audience, and make a higher return on your investment, the question you should be asking is why you wouldn’t change your old habits.  In other words, by not changing the mindset to keep up with today’s advances in technology, businesses can do more harm than good.

What’s so great about SEM is that you can, essentially, pre-qualify the leads being driven to your website or location.  It is very much possible to target by age group, geography, demographics, or pretty much any other filter you can think of.  In other words, you don’t need to waste your money and budget advertising to those who will never use your product.  You choose who your target audience is and what message you want them to hear.  On that same note, it is also much easier and cheaper to test your ads and make necessary changes to more effectively entice your audience.


Can I do SEM for myself?
It is possible, as with everything else, to setup and manage your paid advertising on your own.  If this is the route you wish to take, I suggest putting a lot of time into studying as much information as you can find.  It is common in the industry to hear businesses talk about how they can, and are, managing effective PPC campaigns on their own.  Though they may be having a positive experience and coming out ahead on their campaign, it is common to find at least five areas of improvement that would greatly enhance their campaign and prove even more beneficial.

Even the most seasoned experts will tell you that SEM can be an extremely challenging area in which to work.  There is so much that goes into ensuring you have setup everything correctly and making sure there is no waste that most people give up on paid advertising.  In fact, one of the greatest minds in the industry has written a great article pointing out why both SEO and SEM are so difficult. Rand Fiskin is a leader in the industry and openly admits that these areas are difficult to master and that because of sheer number of areas that need focus, no one individual can master them all.  For more clarity on what is involved, check out the blog post that Rand put out.  It’s a great read.

Don’t let any of this deter you from utilizing the power of SEM.  Though we have stressed the difficulties associated with it, search engine marketing continues to bring great profits to many businesses.  When managed properly and strategically, many accomplishments can come from SEM.

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