Search Engine Marketing (SEM) in Layman’s Terms

Search Engine Marketing, also referred to as SEM, is the act of purchasing online advertising that offers you the ability to instantly increase your visibility with the search engines when customers search for specific keywords.

Referred to as S.E.M., search engine marketing is the active process of creating an advertising campaign with the search engines and targeting specific keywords that customer may use when searching for the goods/services offered by your business. Google, Bing, Yahoo, all of the major search engines offer some form of SEM, typically in the format of what is referred to as pay-per-click (PPC). PPC is simply an advertising campaign set up and managed by an individual to target specific keywords.

A PPC campaign is very easy to set up and manage. You simply create an account, with the search engine of your choice, then register for a new campaign. With Google, for example, it is called AdWords. Within your campaign, you can select the specific phrases of keywords that you would like to target, as well as the geographic region. You place a ‘bid’ amount for these keywords. When a customer, who meets your search criteria, receives the displayed results they can choose to click on your ad or not. When your ad appears that is called an impression. If someone clicks on your ad then your account will be deducted for your bid amount.

For example, if you choose to target the keyword ‘search engine optimization’ and you bid $0.50 per click then each time you ad appears and is ‘clicked’ by a customer they will be taken to the website or webpage you have determined and your account will be debited the amount of your bid.

You can also set up a daily budget. When you ‘clicks’ reach this limit your ads will no longer be displayed. You can also control the specific days and times your ads will appear. You have total control over the criteria used to target your customers. SEM is a great way to get your name out there quickly and drive traffic to your website.

I will use will be “fish food” example once again. If your company wishes to sell fish food online then potential customers need to be able to find your website. If they find your site they may purchase the fish food from your company. If you have a PPC campaign set up and managed properly then customers will be shown a top-link to your website when they search for “fish food”. If the customer chooses to click on the link to your site you are then invoiced a pre-determined amount (many times this amount is measured in cents, not dollars). Now you have been charged a fee to get this customer to your site. When they arrive at your site and find it to their liking they may purchase your gourmet fish food and not the other fish food offered by your competition.

The PPC campaign can be set to only reach customers in your local area, or nationally, or even world-wide depending on your desired service area. The key to a successful PPC campaign is knowing what keywords to target in order to lead qualified customers to your site. If your keywords are too generic then you will get traffic but it may not be quality traffic. The ideal customer is one who is ready, willing, and able to make a purchase. The way a customer searches can determine some of these factors.

There are other venues such as Facebook, for example, where companies may also advertise. Find the sites that your customers visit and put yourself in front of them. It is that simple!

Be sure to read my other layman’s articles on SEO, Video Optimization, Web Presence, and SEO vs. SEM. You are also welcome to check out my website for more information. Thanks for reading!

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