Your Complete Guide to Search Engine Marketing

Published on October 28, 2022

SEM, or search engine marketing, is a proven, cost-effective strategy for growing your business when a strong marketing budget isn't possible. With billions of different businesses all wanting to grab the same eyeballs, now is as important as ever to advertise online, and search engine marketing is the most effective method to grow your business.

This guide provides an overview of search engine marketing fundamentals as well as strategies for succeeding in search engine marketing.


What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing is a form of advertising that features paid advertisements that appear in search engine results pages (or SERPs).

Advertisers will bid on a keyword to make their ads show up when someone enters a search in a browser like Google or Bing, giving them a chance to offer the products or services people are looking for.

Some types of pay-per-click ads are just text-based, but others are more visual, such as PLAs that include images of the product with other details, such as price and customer reviews.

The key advantage of search engine marketing is that it can put an advertiser's ads in front of customers who are already interested in what the advertiser is selling, since these are people who have come to the web for some purpose other than to research that company's products.

Furthermore, search engine marketing can do this instantly and with no notice. Because no other advertising media can do this, search engine marketing is unmatched in its effectiveness and strength in growing a business.


What is search engine marketing example?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is an Internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites, in which an advertiser pays a publisher (typically a website owner) when a visitor clicks on an advertisement.

The ads may be text, search results, or banner ads that appear in search engines when users enter keywords into their web browsers.

Search engine marketing comes in three different types:

  1. Search engine optimization ( SEO ) helps target your customers by optimizing your site and identifying keywords related to your services.
  2. pay-per-click (PPC ) involves spending money for each click on your adverts.
  3. Search engine marketing (SEM ), using actual advertisements.


Why is search engine marketing important?

Increasingly, more and more consumers are researching and shopping for products online, and search engine marketing has become a necessary online marketing strategy for increasing a company's exposure.

Contrary to popular belief, most new visitors to a website search for it on a search engine.

Because PPC pays for advertising impressions rather than visits, the system is a great way for advertisers to efficiently spend their marketing dollars. Every time a visitor browses the site, it contributes to an increase in organic ranking.

When someone conducts a search, they're searching for the most current information that may be of a commercial nature. This could make them more apt to make a purchase than they might be on a social media site where they're not directly searching for a particular item.

Search marketing appeals to customers just when they are most likely to purchase a product or service - when they are receptive to a new product. Unlike most other digital advertising, PPC advertising is subtle and does not interrupt what the viewer is doing.

In contrast to SEO, SEM offers a guaranteed conversion, delivering results within days or hours, making it arguably the fastest way to drive traffic to a website.


How A/B testing can complement search engine marketing?

Since you are investing in search engine marketing to bring traffic to your website, it makes sense to use the available technology to increase your conversions and maximize your spending.

A/B testing your landing pages will give you an easy way to maximize you spend, whether you're optimizing for your average order value or your revenue per page.

Getting your landing page optimized can have a positive impact on your Quality Score with search engine marketing networks, and therefore lower your average CPC.

Platforms like Optimizely will enable you to set up and implement your A/B tests and make it easy to achieve desired results with regards to conversion rates. It will also let you use an ad-serving integration with platforms like Google AdWords and Facebook for further confidence in your decisions.


What is the main difference between SEO and search engine marketing?

Usually, the term search engine marketing refers to paid search marketing, in which companies are compensated by Google for placing their ads in the search results.

SEO is a very different model of doing business as there is no incentive for traffic or clicks. SEOs can do this by producing the most relevant content for any given keyword search.

Both SEO and search engine marketing  are essential elements of your marketing strategy. SEO is an excellent way to get evergreen traffic near the top of the funnel while search engine advertisements are a highly effective way to generate conversions nearer the bottom of the funnel.


Keywords: The Foundation of Search Engine Marketing

What makes keywords foundational to search engine marketing? As the users of search engines enter keywords (part of their search queries) in order to find what they're looking for, it makes sense that keywords form the basis of search engine marketing.

Now that we've established why keywords are important, let's discuss how you can use them in your own search engine marketing campaign.

One of the main goals for any business owner is gaining awareness for their product or service so that they can acquire more customers and generate more revenue from their company.

The most efficient way to do so would be through pay-per-click (PPC) search engine marketing. PPC allows you to create advertisements on top search engines for specific keywords based on what potential customers are searching for when looking for your type of business online.


Search Engine Marketing Keyword Research

It's important to conduct comprehensive research before selecting keywords for search engine marketing.

First, figure out the keywords that your business is known for, and the keywords that your prospective customers are likely to search for when they are looking for your products and services.

Just enter a keyword relevant to your business or service, and you'll see suggestions for related keywords that can drive the foundation of various search engine marketing campaigns.


Free keyword research tools:

Apart from providing you with keyword ideas that are less competitive, thorough keyword research can also identify keyword phrases that don't drive conversions.

For example, if you own an ice cream company, it would be best to exclude ice cream recipes from your blog.

This is known as search intent, or the likelihood that a potential customer will purchase a good or engage in some other desired action following a search for a particular keyword.

Some keywords are deemed to have high commercial intent, meaning a high likelihood that the user is searching for something with the intent to buy.

Here are some examples of keywords with a high commercial intent:

  • Free shipping
  • Coupon
  • Buy
  • Discount
  • Deal


Keywords and Account Structure

One more way in which to increase the success of a search engine marketing campaign is by tweaking the account structure.

Searching keywords, account structure, and keyword research will help you get a higher click-through rate, reduce costs-per-click, and lead to a more effective ad.

A perfect Google Ads account should have five distinctive components:

  • Ad campaigns
  • Ad groups
  • Keywords
  • Ad text
  • Landing pages

Ad campaigns are effective if they are able to encompass many similar products or services; for example, if you're a hardware store, you can promote leaf blowers, rakes, and leaf bags in one campaign, and then shift to power tools and the like in another.

Ad groups enable every campaign to be further categorized for relevance. So, for example, in our hardware store example, one ad group might be for different types of rakes or different models of leaf blowers.

The power tools campaign, if one decides to organize ads in these levels, would result in one focus on power drills, while another could focus on circular saws.

The advantage of this arrangement would be that you get a higher CTR and lower cost of campaigns, so this takes a bit of time to set up but would be worthwhile in the long run.


The search engine marketing Ad Auction

A common misconception about search engine marketing is that the larger the advertising budget, the better the website ranks.

The higher your advertising budget, the more it will help you target a desired demographic, but you don't need a lot of money to make successful SEO campaigns.

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the auction process in Google AdWords.


How the Ad Auction Works?

The ad auction process occurs every time someone performs a Google search.

In order to be entered into the ad auction, advertisers provide information about the keywords they want to bid on and their max cost per click (CPC) to have their ads appear in searches that match those keywords.

Google automatically sets your bid if it determines the keywords, you have selected are part of the user's search query.


How Ads ‘Win’ the Ad Auction?

Not every single search will bring up an ad from the given keyword. This is because the bidding process has a lot of factors, and because the search does not qualify for the commercial intent.

While Google is evaluating these two factors in the ad auction process: your maximum bid and the Quality Score of your ads.

Your Maximum Bid is the amount you've determined that you will pay for every click, and your Quality Score is an algorithm reflecting the quality of your ad.

Ad rank is the measure of importance on display during the auction which determines how often ads are displayed on a web page.


The Importance of Quality Score in Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketers should focus on Google AdWords' Quality Score because it's one of the most crucial parts of their rank formula.

A High-Quality Score can help you achieve better ad position, and this may happen at a lower cost because Google favors advertisements that are relevant to what the user searched for.

One of the most important metrics for pay-per-click marketing is Quality Score.



Search engine marketing is a critical aspect of online marketing. Without it, you’re doomed before you even start.

Armed with our complete guide and some basic knowledge, however, you can get ahead of your competition and stand out from your peers.

Whether you’re a rookie or an expert, we hope that Your Complete Guide to Search Engine Marketing provides value and helps you succeed. Best of luck!

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