Search Engine Marketing (SEM), not be confused with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is a pay-to-play marketing option for advertisers and companies alike. The most common, and basic, form of SEM is text ads on search engines. You are most likely to see these SEM ads on the top of search results in a yellow box, as seen below.

SEM 101

Search engines are in place to produce relevant websites to match whatever search query the user types in. Unfortunately, there are only 10 spots on Page One,  where majority of clicks occur between positions one through three. This is where SEM comes in. SEM allows you to target keyword phrases, not search queries. Keywords and ads are triggered by these search queries.

How does it work?

Once a targeted keyword is selected, the next step is to determine the value for the click when it occurs. It is important to point out that the advertiser is only charged when an ad is clicked on. The maximum cost-per-click (Max CPC) is the most you would pay for a click and the way to determine what the click is worth.

Let’s say we are bidding on the keyword [starbucks nj] at a Max CPC of $0.10 and our daily budget is set at $100.00. This means we would get up to 1,000 clicks a day, assuming that people are attracted to our ad enough to click it 1,000 times in one day! Those are some pretty impressive numbers and if the website you’re supporting isn’t even on Page One, you can quickly see the value in SEM!

SEM Example


Are there other forms of SEM besides text ads?

Absolutely! SEM ads include a number of various media types, including: display ads (those haunting ads that follow you around the Internet after viewing a product on a specific website), YouTube ads, and even other text ads on websites.

Advertisers have numerous ways to target each of these types and I’m sure you’ve noticed some kind of ad from companies that you visit a lot. This is what we call remarketing – and it works! It allows advertisers to reach users who previously visited the site without doing any transaction or filling out a form. This is beneficial to the advertiser because it helps to reconnect with the potential customers. 

Remarketing allows advertisers to reach users who previously visited the site without doing any transaction or filling out a form. Although I agree to a certain extent that it’s a creepy form of marketing in that it seems to follow you, I know that as an advertiser, we aren’t collecting any personal information, so don’t worry about that! Remarketing simply aids the advertiser in reconnecting with the potential customers. Tip: if you would like it to stop, clear your cookies. That’s how these ads follow you around!

YouTube ads can be quite troublesome at times. I know I’m not the only one that has tried to watch a music video or funny animal video only to be interrupted by some irrelevant ad I have to watch for five to 30 seconds. Luckily, more often than not, there is a “Skip Ad” button (usually on the longer advertisements) which allows the user to skip the ad and go right to their original video. This is valuable for both user and advertiser as the advertiser only gets charged when a user watches the ad in full.

If you’re having trouble ranking at the top of the search engines, let PCG Digital Marketing help you with a paid search strategy! Give us a call at (855) 867-7414 or fill out a form to contact us for more information!

About the Author

PCG Digital Marketing is an award winning digital agency headquartered in Eatontown, NJ. We help our clients get found online through innovative search, social and online advertising campaigns.