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Search Engine Marketing (SEM)


Search engine marketing (SEM) also known as paid search advertising, is the act of purchasing ads that show up when a determined set of keywords are searched for on a search engine. The primary publishers of these ads include Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Given the challenge and intense competition for ranking high in the organic section of these search engines (see SEO), SEM gives small businesses a chance to shoot to the top of the page. The display of these ads are determined by the keywords that a business bids on, in addition to an ad “quality score” that is determined by the ad relevance and landing page associated with the ad.

SEM is a great option for new businesses looking to build awareness, or for long-standing businesses looking to increase web traffic. The actual act of managing and running these ads can be a daunting and complicated task for those unfamiliar, but there are many providers that support small businesses with SEM campaigns.

Quick Tips

  • Determine if SEM is a viable option for your business (budget, objectives, know-how, etc.)
  • Think like a consumer and imagine what they would search for if they wanted to engage with your business
  • Determine business objectives for your ad (web traffic, online conversions, store visits, etc.
  • Decide if you or your team has the time/expertise to manage, monitor and optimize your SEM campaign. If not, find an expert to do it for you

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