Home Digital Marketing What Is SEM? (Search Engine Marketing)

What Is SEM? (Search Engine Marketing)

by Stewart Gauld
Last updated on January 25th, 2023
Search engine marketing

What Is Search Engine Marketing?

Search engine marketing or SEM is the process of driving relevant traffic to specific website pages.

Did you know search engine marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow your small business?

Today I want to answer the questions of what is Search Engine Marketing? What is the difference between Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing? and most importantly, how can Search Engine Marketing help my small business grow?

Feel free to watch the video guide below this post.

Search Engine Marketing - Stewart Gauld


People use search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo to pay for ads. The most common ad platform for Search Engine Marketing is Google Ads formerly known as Google AdWords.

Basically, when you jump onto Google and type in essentially any keyword, the first results that appear on Google and located at the top of the page are called google ads. If you click on one of these ads then the advertiser using Google ads will be charged.

For example, let’s say you are looking for an electrician to install a heater in your home in Tauranga. If you type in ‘Electricians Tauranga’ into Google, the first results to appear are Google Ads.

This advertiser is paying to be found on Google. This is the basis of search engine marketing. The amount of each ad cost per click or CPC depends on the industry, each cost per click can vary from under $1 through to over $100 per click for highly competitive industries. This is how SEM works.

Electricians Tauranga SERP view

What Is The Difference Between Search Engine Marketing And Search Engine Optimisation?

Simply put, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) produces instant results as you’re paying to be found on search engines like Google and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

On the other hand, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) takes time to produce results. SEO is all about optimising your website so that it ranks high on search engines organically. Unlike SEM, the process of SEO takes a huge commitment of time and money. Moreover, there are greater than 200 factors that need to be considered when optimising your website for search engines like Google.

As you can see in the image below the top results are paid ads and below these ads are organic results. Paid ads are part of SEM and the organic results are part of SEO.

If you would like to learn more about SEO and how SEO can help your small business grow, click here.

SEM agency Tauranga SERP view

How can sem help your small business grow?

SEM is one of the most effective ways to grow your small business the reasons being with SEM you can target people at the very end of the buying cycle. People are looking on search engines like Google ready to buy, they’re looking for solutions.

Moreover, with SEM you can essentially put that solution right under the noses of your target audience, as they are intentionally searching and looking to buy.

Click here if you would like to watch a video on how to create an effective SEM campaign.

It’s also important to note that with SEM you can clearly measure and test your campaign to discover if your ads are producing a positive or negative ROI.

Man working on office desk pointing to a business graph

Two powerful attributes of search engine marketing:

1 – Audience targeting is where you can target people searching for specific keywords or phrases while also defining your audience right down to specific demographics and behaviour.

2 – Only pay when someone takes action on your ads. For example, you will only pay if someone clicks on your ad.

Therefore, search engine marketing can be very profitable for small businesses if it’s done correctly.

Here at Stewart Gauld, we provide comprehensive web design, social media and SEO solutions to small and local businesses. Moreover, we are excited to share our knowledge and expertise with small businesses in order to help them thrive in their online environment.

Book your 45-minute strategy consultation with Stewart Gauld or send us a message for more information if you require our digital media services.

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