Entrepreneur Zone: What is SEM?

Welcome back to the Entrepreneur Zone - our series that covers the basics of Digital Marketing to aid new business owners in starting their marketing journey. Last month, we discussed Social Media Marketing. This month, we will look at Search Engine Marketing (SEM). 

Today, we will explore the terms you need to know, the basics of SEM, factors that affect your ad performance, and the knowledge you need to move your company forward in the wide world of Digital Marketing. 

SEM Terminology

Bid- the highest amount you are willing to pay per click on your advertisement.

Cost per Acquisition- is a good way of determining the effectiveness of your ads. You can calculate this by dividing the total ad spend by the number of conversions.  

Cost Per Click- is the price paid when someone clicks on your ad. 

Impressions- is the number of times your ad is shown.

Keywords- these are words, and even phrases, people utilize when searching for information via search engines. 

Landing page- the page on your website where your ads direct traffic to obtain conversions.  

Optimization- is the practice of reviewing and updating your ads based on data collected to improve their performance. 

Pay Per Click (PPC)- is the billing method utilized for paid search campaigns. 

SERP (Search Engine Results Page)- the list of websites pulled up in response to your queries.  

Targeting- is the practice of using filters to control who your ads are shown to; each search engine and social platform has its own targeting criteria.

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing, SEM, is a set of strategies that involve utilizing paid advertisements to improve your search engine rankings. Unlike SEO, which we learned about in our article Entrepreneur Zone- What is SEO (https://lionzone.com/blog/entrepreneur-zone-what-is-seo), SEM is about buying your way to the top of the SERP results. It is important to remember that this strategy is not just limited to Google. 

SEM consists of the placement of Pay Per Click, PPC, ads in a variety of formats across platforms for branding and sales. Ads can be simple text or visually based. They can even offer information like prices and reviews. The goals of your SEM campaign determine which ad format is best.  

Keywords form the basis for every SEM strategy. It is vital to understand what keywords people might search when looking for your product. Once you know those words, you must look at the intent behind these phrases. For example, if you were to "google" those keywords, are they looking for information, help to locate a place, or looking to shop? The types of intent are Transactional (19.3% of all searches), Navigational (10.1% of all searches), Commercial (10.6% of all searches), and Informational (60% of all searches). There are many tools out there, both free and paid, to assist you with your keyword research.  

Factors that Impact your Ad Performance

Beyond creatives, two main factors affect ad performance: budget and quality. Whenever a keyword you have focused on is searched, your ad will enter an auction. This auction places your ad against others with that keyword; one of the main factors that affect if your ad is shown is if it can outbid your competitors. If you cannot compete financially for a certain keyword, you should research related keywords with the same intent that are not focused on by your competitors. Google has a handy tool that allows you insight into how your budget impacts your ads' success, showcasing what you can expect at each budget level. 

The second factor influencing your ad auction success is your quality score. This score considers the relevance of your ad to the query, your landing page, and the click-through rate of your ad. This, combined with your budget, determines your ad rank and if your ad will be shown in response to that particular search.  


SEM can be daunting for those that have not learned to navigate the search engine ad setup. Once your ad is in place, you must monitor and adjust your campaigns no less than weekly to ensure that you are using your budget efficiently and getting the most bang for your buck. Don't rely on the search engines' recommendations alone for optimization. They do not understand your product or service, and their goal is to spend your money; you could end up with results that are not effective in building your business.  


Do you feel lost when it comes to Digital Marketing? Well, that's why we're here!

YES. YOU GUESSED IT — It's time for the Sales Pitch! (I know you have been expecting it, so we won't disappoint.)

I'm sure you have discovered that Lionzone Digital Marketing created this blog. Surprise! 

One of my absolute favorite features of our LZ services is that we don't believe in long-term contracts

We believe this  If we don't earn your business every day, we don't deserve to keep you! 

— Let us earn your business & assist your company with its Digital Marketing needs. You won't regret it. —

Contact the LZ team today at info@lionzone.com or (615) 235-3200. 





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