Search Engine Marketing


Search engine marketing refers to all marketing activities that use search engine technology for marketing purposes. SEM promotes a business and its products by ensuring the company appears in search engine result pages. SEM includes search engine optimization (SEO), paid listings, and other search engine related services and functions that are designed to increase reach and exposure of a website, resulting in greater traffic. Specifically, SEM increases the visibility of websites through paid search advertising and/or search engine optimization with the intent of increasing traffic to a company’s website. SEO is discussed in two parts—Off-page SEO and Onpage SEO, which refers to the activities and content that website developers use to ensure a company’s site is recognized by search engines.

Search engine traffic consists of consumers who are interested in and searching for a particular term that is associated with a website. To leverage this tool and draw traffic to a company’s website, marketers mustunderstand how to effectively use both organic and paid SEM and determine the potential exposure they can
gain through both approaches.

Advantages of Search Engine Marketing

SEM is advantageous in the following ways:

  • SEM helps businesses connect with consumers at a time when the consumer may be more likely to purchase a product or service. SEM is an inbound strategy—the consumer has explicitly expressed interest in a relevant topic by means of a search query (keywords) used, and, if optimized, the company’s website is displayed in search results. SEM, therefore, catches the consumer at a time when he or she is actively looking for a particular product or service, resulting in a more engaged consumer and typically a more receptive response. Ultimately the goal of any form of digital marketing is to increase customer involvement. Consumer behavior theory indicates that when a consumer is “involved”—engaged and interested in a consumer good that is being marketed at that precise moment—he or she is more likely to purchase. Outbound marketing, by contrast, involves sending e-mails to a database or list of consumers with the hope of enticing some of these consumers to purchase. However, it is unknown if and when the customer is interested or ready to purchase.
  • Search engine traffic originates from a voluntary, audience-driven search. To reach a company’s website, customers and potential customers have entered one or more of the company’s keywords to bring up the appropriate search results page and then have selected the company’s site from all those displayed. As a result, the audience is more engaged, relevant, and often ready to make a purchase decision.
  • While organic and paid searches each has unique advantages with respect to cost, necessary resources, technical requirements, and more, they both offer robust tracking and the ability to effectively control and deliver performance at a desired ROI.