Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an umbrella term that refers to the process of driving traffic and gaining visibility from search engines through paid ads (SEM) and free, organic listings (SEO). The paid SEM efforts usually take shape of PPC (pay-per-click) and CPC (cost-per-click) ads.

What is SERP?

SERP, short for search engine results page, is the page served to a user by a search engine in response to a search query. Typically, SERPs contain two types of content: organic (SEO) and paid (SEM).

The Most Popular Search Engines

What do you need to know about SEM?

Generally, marketers use a mix of different paid and organic search marketing techniques to drive traffic to their site.

Paid ads encompass:

SEO encompasses:

All search queries can be classified into three main types:

Search query types can also suggest where in the buyer’s journey the user is, allowing marketers to apply the right conversion funnel optimization techniques.

Organic search is extremely important for online retailers, as many studies suggest it drives around 50% of website traffic. When it comes to search engine optimization for eCommerce, marketers get obsessive about testing all methods available to them to try and achieve higher rankings. The logic is very simple: higher positions on SERPs automatically result in higher impressions and a significantly better click-through rate. More people visiting your store should ultimately translate into better conversions and higher revenues.  

Paid search advertising focuses on investing in the right types of ads to achieve prominent positions on search engine results pages and drive traffic to the site. Well optimized search ads can sometimes achieve higher positions than organic search results, while others might be displayed on the right side of the browser page. The success of paid search campaign rests on targeting the right keywords and selecting optimal advertising channels.

There are many search engine marketing tools that can help you optimize both paid and organic search campaigns.

Primary tools:

Google Analytics

Google’s Search Console

Google’s Keyword Planner

Additional tools to help you optimize your SEO:

Open Site Explorer

Authority Labs


MOZ Keyword Explorer



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Justas Markus: CEO & Co-Founder of GetFound XL and a blogger at Entrepreneur.com, Observer.com, Influencive.com and others. Catch up with Justas on Twitter.