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Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is one of the most effective methods for growing a business and attracting new customers. With hundreds of businesses in the market competing for the same consumers, online advertising becomes a lot more important, and search engine marketing is the most effective way to promote your products or services. 

And by employing organic tactics to attract traffic for the long term, it gets tough to compete with the SERPs without investing some money behind it. This is where SEM comes in handy. 

What is Search Engine Marketing or SEM? 

SEM is the process of using paid strategies to attract the target audience while increasing search visibility on Google. 

Brands pay to make their ads appear as search results on Google search results. They use targeted keywords so when a customer searches for that specific keyword, they view an ad from the brand. The brand pays only if a customer clicks on the ad. 

Paid search ads are found on almost all search results pages. These are usually located on the top and bottom of the web page. They have an ‘Ad’ logo type to let customers know that these are an ad placement. 

Additionally, few paid search ads may even appear as products. 

These ads are often called pay-per-click ads. They come in different formats. Some are in a text-based format, while others are product listings. Product listing ads are more visual that allows users to view necessary information like price & reviews at the first glance. 

Search Engine Marketing’s greatest strength lies in the fact that it allows advertisers to place their ads in front of motivated consumers who are ready to make a purchase instantly after looking at the product. 

As per, businesses allot almost 41% of their marketing budget for SEO practices. 

Difference Between SEM & SEO

To differentiate SEM & SEO; SEM is the act of paying Google to show ads in its search results. 

Whereas, in SEO or Search Engine Optimization, businesses don’t pay Google for clicks and traffic, instead they publish the most relevant content with the right keywords to earn a free rank in the Google search results. 

Both SEO & SEM are important parts of an online marketing strategy. 

SEM Platforms 

An SEM platform refers to a search engine where a brand or business places its search ads that appear when a consumer performs a search. Google and Bing are the most common platforms. 

 Google Ads – Google Ads is widely used by thousands of brands worldwide. Billions of Google searches occur daily while helping brands to be visible in front of the largest online audience. 
 Bing Ads – They claim that they can connect with those 3 million people that Google can’t reach. They display ads on sites like Yahoo and MSN which helps advertisers connect with users who don’t use Google as a search engine. 

Benefits of SEM Strategies 

Search engine marketing has its own benefits. Take a look below: 

1. Faster Reach – SEM brings a business the required top results in search engines immediately after its launch. Whereas, SEO payoff is not so instantaneous. 
2. Affordable Pricing – Through Google Adwords, you can manage your marketing budget the way you prefer. For instance, you can opt for per-per-click (PPC). 
3. Flexible SEM Campaign Settings – Google Adwords offers quite flexible settings to carry out SEM campaigns. It allows you to choose your preferred language, budget, location, audience as well as customize your ads. 
4. Measuring Results – integrating Google Adwords & Google Analytics offers clear measurable results. 
5. 100% Automatization – Google Adwords allows users to improve and restart their search engine marketing campaigns on autopilot. 
6. Outperform Competitors Quickly – SEM makes it easier to compete and outperform the competitors who rank at the top of the search results. SEM gives a chance to advertisers to be found by their main sales queries on the top page instantly. 
7. Increases Brand Awareness – Google search ads lets advertisers use their brand name in the product description, headlines, extension links as well as display URL of the ads.
8. Lets you pay after the buyer clicks – SEM allows advertisers to play only after a consumer clicks on their ads. This means you’re only liable to make a payment if the user takes action. 

Search Engine Marketing Tips to Formulate Your First SEM Strategy

We have already learned the key benefits of SEM strategy. So, let’s take a look at a few tips that must be kept in mind while framing an SEM strategy. 

1. Pick the product/service that you wish to advertise 

The first step towards developing a search engine marketing strategy is to choose a product for advertising. 

It’s always recommended to pick a bestseller, although you can choose a product as per your target audience. Use explainer video for targeting your audience.

2. Fix your Budget

It’s better to begin with a smaller budget and test it first through your ad. Then, after examining your results, you can raise it or modify your strategy. 

3. Look at your target audience again

Determine the category of your target audience again carefully. Google Adwords lets you fix your audience according to the location, behavior, demographics. It also comes up with a custom audience from your customers. 

4. Register on Google Adwords 

Google Adwords is the key tool to start with an SEM campaign. So, you need to get registered here and give the details about your business in order to proceed further. 

5. Set up your SEM campaign & launch it

Here comes the toughest part of your entire venture. Google Adwords has many settings that can be confusing. So, you have to pay attention to this. 

Besides, your ad copy holds importance too. 

You must know the different SEM tips & tricks. For instance, pay close attention to the headline. You can describe your business while motivating your customers at the same time in not more than 30 characters. 

6. Measure results 

The integration of Google Analytics helps businesses to track and monitor their results while measuring the ROI or return on investment. 

7. Repeat the whole process again 

If your SEM campaign succeeded, you can repeat it all over again. Rectify any errors or mistakes and continue your campaign while achieving phenomenal results. 

Step-By-Step Guide for a Successful SEM Strategy

Here are the top search engine marketing strategies to grow your business well: 

Step 1: Focus on the local search

Did you know, 46% of all Google searches look for local information? So if you are offering your goods or services locally, the SEM campaign gives you a better chance to be discovered by consumers. 

All you need to do is to mention your location in the text of your advertisement and its headline. Do not forget to specify your target audience too as it should reside in your area and must search from it.  

Step 2: Keep an eye on your competitors

There’s no doubt that your top competitors would definitely make use of SEM campaigns. So, you can keep a close watch on their campaigns & conduct their PPC analysis to improve your own SEM campaigns. Search for the keywords, their writing methods, as well as the bidding strategies used by your competitors. Use tools like SEMRush to compare your advertising efforts with those of theirs. 

Step 3: Create a sense of urgency

Inculcate the feeling of urgency in your customers as it motivates them to purchase your products or services. Let it flow throughout your marketing strategy, especially in paid advertising. 

You can do this by adding some urgency-provoking phrases to the headline of your ads. For instance, “Special Offer – 24 Hours Remaining”. 

Step 4: Make use of ‘Similar Audience’ Feature 

One of the features offered by Google Adwords is that it allows advertisers to show their ads to a group of individuals who have the same behavioural patterns and interests. The goal is to broaden the reach of your best-performing customers by targeting new consumers with the same characteristics as the visitors on your website. 

This is a superb way for generating more leads and attracting qualified traffic to the website. 

Step 5: Segment & Customize your ads 

As you know, Google Adwords provides flexible settings for personalizing and segmenting of the ads campaign. For example, setting your ad campaign in a way that it’s only visible to mobile users. 

If you have a custom audience on Google Adwords, you can divide or segment your users into the ones who have abandoned a cart recently while showing a personalized remarketing ad with a special offer. 

Step 6: Look for a highly efficient approach with A/B testing

A/B testing is a marketing technique that compares and determines the winning textual/visual solutions for a marketing campaign. 

While testing paid ads, you must decide on what part you wish to test on. For example, you can test two different descriptions, headlines, extensions, etc on a limited number of target audience. 

Then you can compare the results and know which phrase did the best in convincing the experimental audience. Apply the winning result to the rest of the consumers. 

Step 7: Fix Automated Rules 

It’s not as important as you think to regularly monitor and track statistics and do modifications in the ad campaign manually. 

Google Ads’ automated rules allows advertisers to manage their account using different criteria they set on their own, such as showing ads on a schedule, bids by the time of day, rank in the search results, etc. 

By setting automated rules to your account, it eliminates the human factor to a great extent. This is mostly required when big changes must be made and things cannot be overlooked. 

However, make sure that you do everything correctly while you set the automated rules, or else you would waste the budget. 


You can create a powerful SEM campaign by following a few main tactics. These would not only help the advertisers optimize their campaigns but also reach more people, and boost conversions as well. The key to create a powerful campaign is: 

 Choosing & targeting the right keywords
 Create ads which compels the users to click on them. Use keywords in your ad copy. 
 Improve your quality score. By doing this, the SEM ads are more visible and at a lower cost. You can incorporate targeted keywords both in the ad copy as well as the landing page too. 
 Optimize your existing campaigns by adding more relevant keywords, A/B testing, etc. 

Besides, remove keywords that are bringing the wrong traffic to your site. In short, set aside negative keywords.  

So, now that you know everything about SEM, we hope that you can create an effective search engine marketing strategy for your brand. Go through this entire guide and understand thoroughly each & every tip/strategy so that you can make the best use of it. 

About The Author:

Pavnendra Bhadhuria is the founder and CEO of Essence Studios, India’s top explainer video production company.

When he is not busy running the business, he shares his knowledge and experience in the field of digital marketing through blogs. He is also an avid follower of cricket.