What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search engine marketing, more commonly known as SEM, is great for any business that wants to get its name out there in the digital world.

This type of digital marketing is a powerful tool for gaining exposure on search engines and creating brand awareness.

From Google Ads to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing has everything you need to create visibility in competitive markets.

That is why so many businesses have shifted their focus toward Search Engine Marketing — this form of digital marketing can help maximize your online presence (and your sales)!

Let’s read on to learn more about this powerful digital marketing tactic!

What can businesses gain from SEM?

Search engine marketing is a highly beneficial tool for businesses. It has the power to generate an incredible number of qualified leads and business revenues — bringing more money into your pocket.

Search engine optimization and pay-per-click (PPC) are both components of SEM, and each has immense advantages in the short and long term.

SEM digital marketing pillar

For any business, SEM should be one of the pillars of its digital marketing strategy.

Search engine optimization can benefit businesses by increasing online visibility through organic search engine rankings and improving website user experience. Hence, customers stay on the page longer, enabling tracking for analytics purposes and more.

PPC increases exposure slightly; with campaigns like Google Ads, a business can target users based on demographics, previous searches, and more.

Regardless of your chosen approach, SEM will bring your business more traffic than ever before while also delivering significant returns on investment.

Search engine optimization and PPC are incredibly effective ways to reach audiences. Yet, which delivers the most success depends greatly on your application strategy; investing time into creating a robust, well-rounded SEM approach can be hugely beneficial for any business.

For any business, SEM should be one of the pillars of its digital marketing strategy.

Without it, it is unlikely that you will dominate your market.

Let’s explore SEM in more detail!

Why is SEM Important?

Strive for exposure and ranking

The first page of search engines is a battleground, capturing over 80% of traffic. Nowadays, many industries are highly competitive. So, how can a new website quickly rise to the top of the first page? In fact, you can cleverly use SEM to achieve your ranking, exposure, and traffic goals. Of course, if your website’s SEO is already doing well and you add SEM positioning, then the search results page will be all yours! Achieving exposure and traffic won’t be difficult. But if your SEO is already on the first page, but the traffic is not optimistic, you can still test the titles and content that users prefer through advertising copy.

Promote marketing campaigns during specific periods

There are several large and small festivals and holidays throughout the year, especially for those who operate e-commerce, where there are a series of activities one after another. If you only manage website SEO and select the right keywords, you still need to write content and wait for time to ferment. By the time the search engine indexes the activity page, the festival may have passed for several months. If the keywords are very competitive and the traffic is high, such as Valentine’s Day gifts or Mother’s Day restaurants, it may be even more difficult to squeeze into the top two pages of the search. However, SEM’s timeliness can expose marketing campaigns and tell users who are searching, which can supplement SEO.

Competitors are all advertising

For example, if you are a manufacturer selling selfie sticks and search for “selfie stick,” you find that your competitors are all advertising, occupying all the search positions, but you don’t have any ads. Will you be willing to give potential customers to your competitors? Sometimes, when searching for your own brand name, you may find that your competitors are advertising for your brand name. On one hand, you are happy that your brand, which you have worked hard to build for years, has finally paid off. On the other hand, you worry that your competitors will use your brand name to expose their own services. If you don’t notice that your competitors are secretly advertising for your brand, you may be giving all your customers to your competitors. Check it out now!

What are the disadvantages of SEM?


Calling this a disadvantage may be an overstatement, as there are hardly any advertisements that don’t require payment.

However, compared to SEO, which can continue to exist on the search results page without paying, SEM will disappear as soon as you stop spending money.

At the same time, some specific keywords may be very expensive per click due to intense competition, and may cost up to 100 dollars per click. In this case, brands need to control advertising costs.

On the other hand, if you can manage SEO well on highly competitive keywords, it can be a very cost-effective thing to do.

Keyword Limitations

Since SEM is subject to Google’s advertising system audit, certain specific keywords and terms may be blocked by Google, even if they comply with real-world regulations.

For example, some cancer-related terms cannot be used in advertising copy, and some healthy keywords cannot be purchased (meaning you cannot advertise on these keywords).

In contrast, SEO is almost not regulated by Google. As long as it is legal, you can write whatever you want in your copy.

User Intent

As SEM is advertising, it is generally believed that the intent of traffic may be slightly different than that of organic traffic (depending on the situation).

SEM Keyword Research

To achieve success in SEM, it’s crucial to pinpoint and purchase ad space on the most effective keywords and long-tail keyword phrases that are relevant to a product or service. SEM keyword research strategies are centered around keyword intent, also known as searcher intent. This refers to the anticipated action a user is likely to take when they search a specific keyword. The goal of SEM strategies is to identify and use keywords that have the highest likelihood of driving a user to make a purchase.

There are several tools available to help marketers identify the most important keywords, including but not limited to:

  • Clearscope
  • Google Ads Keyword Planner
  • Google Trends
  • Keyword Tool
  • Semrush

Effective keyword research can also help SEM marketers identify and avoid negative keywords – those that are unlikely to rank high on search engine results pages and attract potential customers.

Google Ads Keyword Planner

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is a fantastic way to ensure your business is seen and heard in the digital age.

SEO, standing for Search Engine Optimization, is a long-term technique to increase organic presence across search engines. 

It is proven that SEO helps:

  1. Ensure that your content reaches potential clients on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and beyond.
  2. Be sure that you will be in front of the people actively looking for what you have to offer, and it’s essential for any business that wants in on this new digital world.
  3. Make all the difference to your business’ success (when used correctly, that is).

Let’s delve into the world of search engine optimization. We will share some insights to get to the top of organic search results.

Keyword research helps you uncover what your target audience is looking for.

SEM keywords

Keyword Research.

When it comes to search engine optimization, keyword research and search intent are critically important.

Search intent is about understanding the context behind a query and discovering why a user searches for specific phrases or words.

Keyword research helps you uncover what your target audience is typing into the search engine to find the products or services you have to offer.

To ensure your website has a top organic search ranking, you must use carefully chosen keywords that are pertinent to your website, including ones with a higher SERP (search engine results page) ranking.

Quality content created with relevant keywords will help direct more organic traffic to your site and present your business as helpful and informative – which translates into greater ROI!

Technical SEO.

Have you had technical SEO on your mind lately?

Well, see if this piques your interest. Technical SEO is the practice of optimizing technical components on your website. 

Think of it as working behind the scenes to improve users’ overall search experience and to help website ranking in SERP.

Technical SEO factors such as mobile optimization, page loading speed enhancements, canonical tags implementation, and others can make or break a page’s visibility in search engine result pages.

Remember, everyone loves for web pages to load quickly!

That’s why technical SEO is so important.

Technical SEO is helpful for current ranking and helps ensure your site is secure and future-proof.

Ignoring technical SEO isn’t something we recommend doing for any business that desires to rank well on all major search engines!

SEM campaign with first Page

Want more sales? Want more leads?

See how First Page can drive insane sales. See real results from your SEO campaign! Contact us!

Content SEO.

Content SEO can be a mystery, but understanding it is the key to unlocking your search engine ranking potential! It is a crucial part of extraordinary organic results.

Simply put, content SEO focuses on how helpful your content is to the user – after all, Google cares about more than just keywords.

With content SEO, one needs to understand user intent and generate content that answers questions or solves problems within any given topic.

This approach signals to search engines that you’re providing quality content,, increasing your chances of higher SERP rankings.

Content SEO also considers other factors such as accessibility, page speed, and readability.

So if you want those first-page spots in search queries, it’s time to adopt a content SEO approach! 

Watch your search traffic soar, and more happy users return to your website for more.

On-page SEO.

On-page SEO is the systematic side of searching for that golden ticket on the top spot on SERP.

This alchemy involves optimizing your web pages according to on-page SEO factors like title tags, meta descriptions, URLs, and more.

Getting on-point with on-page SEO translates into better visibility on SERPs, leading to higher search rankings and more traffic.

But it’s not just about ranking well on search engines; on-page SEO keeps buyers engaged, converting their visits into product sales or services booked.

On-page SEO is integral to any successful website’s armory for top-performing digital marketing campaigns.

Like to learn more about on-page SEO?

We have a great on-page SEO blog post you can read to learn more fast!

on-page SEO

Off-page SEO.

Off-page SEO is all about the factors ‘off’ the webpage that affect search ranking, like link building..

Generating backlinks is key in off-page SEO. It will boost your domain authority to increase the ranks of SERP (search engine result page).

Of course, off-page SEO isn’t a silver bullet – it certainly helps, but you’d be missing out if you skip over content quality or other measures like user experience when trying to rank higher in search results.

Off-page SEO is about building relationships with authoritative sources that can link to your website and help increase trustworthiness within search engines.

So who says mixing business with pleasure doesn’t work?

Bring your off-page game with a link-building strategy using backlinks, and get ready for a boost in traffic and credibility!

How long will an SEO campaign take to bring in sales?

Trying to figure out how long your SEO campaign will take to bring in sales is like asking how long a piece of string is – it all depends!

SEO campaigns are multifaceted, with various moving parts and key performance indicators (KPIs) that need to be considered.

Consider tracking these SEO-related KPIs, such as page views or organic search traffic, to indicate success in the long run.

SEO campaigns require patience and hard work, so you should take your time to savor every moment.

Measuring results can be tricky, as SEO efforts may take weeks or even months before you start seeing any real impact on sales.

Think of SEO as a long-term investment; in the end, SEO campaigns might take some time to bring in tangible results, but when done right, your SEO campaign could offer meaningful growth for years to come.

In contrast, SEM ads appear in Google searches using payment strategies. These ads are an online marketing method that involves getting paid traffic from search engines.

They increase the visibility of your website on the search engine results page and are vital for promoting your website.

On the other hand, SEO uses free methods to rank higher in organic Google searches. 

By optimizing your website, you can generate more traffic to your website at no additional cost.

SEO search engine optimization

Like to learn more Google’s recent updates?

We have a great on-page Google Helpful Content Update post you can read to learn more fast!

What is PPC?

PPC, or pay-per-click, has recently become a buzzword for advertisers.

As a paid advertising model, it allows businesses with their ad campaigns to place targeted ads (text ads, images, videos, and more) on Google search results pages after paying a “per click” fee.

For instance, when someone searches for relevant terms on Google related to PPC advertisements, these paid ads will be displayed along with the organic results.

PPC advertising, such as Google Ads or Google Search Ads, is beneficial for businesses because it:

Offers fast results and targeted branding opportunities no matter the size of the business’ budget.

Extends your reach, drives traffic to your website and increases conversions significantly.

Sounds good? Hell yes! Then it’s time to learn more about PPC!

Keyword Research.

Keyword research in PPC is essential to understand how people search for things online and what kind of words they use.

Keywords are the foundation upon which a successful PPC campaign can be built – without them, Google Ads and other pay-per-click ad networks will never be able to find your ads!

One should also pay attention to the searcher’s intent. If the intent is purely informational, you will focus on informational keywords. However, if the intent is transactional, then your keywords or key phrase would be transactional in nature.

Keyword research involves using tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, and Moz Keyword Explorer to discover keywords that are relevant to your niche.

With this valuable data from these keyword research tools, you can better optimize your campaigns for targeted search results on Google and other search engines.

They help ensure that your ads appear when and where it matters most and get tremendous ROI on your ad spend.

Bid Setting.

With bid setting, it’s crucial to stay one step ahead of your competition.

After all, who can forget that iconic battle between eBay and Amazon over a highly sought-after keyword back in the day?

When it comes to bid setting in Pay Per Click (PPC) on Google Ads and Google Search Ads, the bid setting allows us to manage our investment better while understanding the overall cost associated with each advertisement.

Each bid must be carefully considered based on its potential return on investment (ROI). You can factor in keyword strength, competition, and relevance to optimize each bid and maximize its predicted ROI.

And while bid setting may seem intimidating at first glance, tracking performance metrics is the best way to understand your PPC campaigns and ensure optimal bid settings for each of your targeted keywords.

So don’t be afraid to get out there and set those bids!

Like to learn more about well-crafted headlines for your ads?

We have a great blog post you can read to learn more fast!

SEM headlines!

Ads Creation.

Ad creation in PPC is no joke; it requires strategy and finesse.

Awesome Ad creation drives successful campaigns on Google Ads, Google search ads, and other pay-per-click (PPC) platforms.

Remember, Ad copy should be unique, targeted to the right audience, have well-crafted headlines, create a sense of urgency, and include informational keywords for SEO relevance while preserving your brand’s unique voice.

Ad creation is indeed an art!

Whether you take a DIY approach or enlist the support of a professional Ad agency, make sure to keep these factors top of mind for your PPC success.

Audience Targeting.

Audience targeting is an essential part of any PPC marketing strategy.

It’s a simple recipe for success – serve your ads to the most relevant customers, adjust as needed and watch your ad returns skyrocket!

Audience targeting in PPC requires you to segment your target audience by demographics, interests, and user intent and create a separate ad group for each group.

You can then customize ads so that they are tailored to each segment, improving their quality score and giving you the maximum exposure for your campaign.

Audience targeting takes a little more effort than broadcast messaging. Still, it pays off in the end with higher conversions, better ROI, and a tailor-made marketing plan that will maximize the effectiveness of every cent spent on PPC.

How long will an SEM campaign take to bring in sales?

SEM campaigns are great for generating more business.

We know you’re wondering how long it will take to see results from your SEM endeavors.

The answer isn’t always so black and white.

It depends on various factors, like the size of your budget, the chosen keywords, and even the season you are running your SEM campaign.

That said, with a well-crafted SEM strategy that caters to all of these elements, you should be able to start seeing some tangible return within 3 weeks or so.

So if you’re itching to get into SEM territory and reap the rewards sooner rather than later, go ahead – dive in!

SEM agency

How easy is SEM to do by yourself?

SEM is also a full-time job, do ask yourself… Do I have the time? If not, best to leave it to professionals or digital marketing agency. Contact us!

Summary of SEM

A short summary of SEO vs. PPC:

Organic positions Paid positions
Traffic over timeImmediate traffic
Long-term resultsImmediate results
Ongoing processSet up once and maintain
Improves visibility and authorityImproves sales
Free/Lower costOnly paid

Scenarios of when to use SEM strategies (SEO only, PPC only, or both SEO and PPC?).

When it comes to digital marketing, there are so many options. Which one is the right choice for your brand? You’re not alone in wondering if SEM or SEO is your best option.

To achieve results quickly, use a PPC solution.

If you’re looking for results fast, a PPC solution is the way to go.

Paid search campaigns have long been known for their ability to deliver leads, clicks, and sales in a timely manner.

What’s great about utilizing PPC is that it allows for greater customization so you can tailor your approach to fit the needs of your audience’s needs and make sure that your message is seen by the right people willing to convert.

With PPC in place, you can work smarter and get top-tier results quickly without breaking the bank.

To achieve longer-term results, choose an SEO strategy.

With SEO, you must use rich and authentic content to attract traffic and increase links.

At the same time, selecting relevant keywords to optimize website content and analyzing content problems are critical components of improving your website’s ranking in search results.

Quality keywords and content are undeniably a big part of good SEO, which will gather you organic and free traffic over a much extended period compared to PPC.

This is because SEM is only effective when you pay for the results you want to display.

Once you close the ad, the traffic you get from your PPC ads will be halted. However, SEO is exactly the opposite and will grow over time, leaving lasting effects.

Helpful website content will help you get a higher click-through rate (CTR) for free.

At First Page, we can help you reposition Google rankings through services including content writing, adding keywords, and technical analysis of website security.

To achieve even higher results, why not use both SEM and SEO? You can complement your SEO with an SEM strategy to get more clicks from different sources and become an expert in Internet marketing!

Cover all bases, and get your business on track right with both SEO and PPC.

SEO and PPC are both crucial to ensuring your brand’s online visibility, but there are certain situations where using the two together can elevate its success.

Combining SEO and SEM efforts offer the best results for businesses seeking to reach a wide audience because of their complementary nature: SEO builds long-term organic traffic and strategic placement within search engines. At the same time, PPC creates immediate exposure through paid advertising platforms.

As a bonus for organized marketers doing research on keywords, simultaneously launching campaigns for both tactics can often result in cost efficiency.

The key is experimenting with different approaches to determine which combination yields the highest ROI for your business goals.

Ultimately, it pays (literally!) to know when to use SEO and SEM simultaneously.

Final thoughts

At First Page, we provide professional PPC and SEO services. These services can help you improve your visibility on search engine results pages.

As part of our process, we help people build basic SEO and PPC knowledge. We do this to help them better understand how the visibility and performance of search engines work.

The strategy you adopt will also be dependent on your business’s age.

Implementing effective SEO will take longer if you start out with a new website.

Although you should still pay attention to SEO, you can start with a PPC strategy to boost your rankings until proper SEO can be established.

After comparing the individual benefits of SEO and PPC, it should be easier to decide which SEM strategy is suitable for your business and where to delegate your marketing budget.

If you want a more in-depth understanding of which digital marketing strategies to employ, get a free SEO analysis from us at First Page here.

Ready to reach page one on Google?

We know you want to make real money! Get ready to convert customers like crazy. Please do not delay. Contact us today!

Unsure of getting in touch? We don’t bite! If you’d prefer, we invite you to learn more about our SEO services. Don’t delay, get ahead of the competition now!

What other marketing tactics can you use to beat your competition?

Here are some helpful marketing tactic blogs that can help you break all your past sales records, and your competition in the process:

Are you a busy business owner? You may not have the time to run the marketing tactics you need to make money regularly. If this is the case, we encourage you to review some of our strategic marketing services to drive more sales: