Mastering SEM in digital marketing Key elements for success

What is SEM in Digital Marketing: Key Elements for Success

SEM is one of the most effective ways to compete and perform in what feels like an endless and ever-progressing competitive online marketplace. With this in mind, let’s get stuck in and cover how you can master SEM in Digital Marketing. 


What is SEM in Digital Marketing?

It’s no longer a question for businesses; everyone and their dog is online, and your audience is consuming content, buying, learning and spending so much of their precious time on the internet. If you want to grow effectively and push your products and services, you need to understand what is SEM in digital marketing and incorporate it into your strategy.

Diving in deeper, let’s talk about what SEM is and give a little bit of a definition. So, Search Engine Marketing, very often just shortened to SEM, is the practice of marketing a business using search engines. There are two parts of SEM, the paid side and the organic side. 

Looking for a bit more detail? Check out our introduction to SEM, for a more comprehensive definition. 



Paid Search

The paid arm of SEM is the process of bidding on keywords that users are typing into search engines like Google or Bing. 

These keywords should represent users that are searching for products or services, so it’s a quicker way for businesses to advertise and appear alongside organic search results to try and gain sales and leads much more quickly. 

The main strength of paid search is that it gives businesses the ability to place their ads above organic listings, much to the chagrin of many SEOs. 

If it’s done correctly, these ads are placed in the lap of eager and motivated customers ready to buy when they search for your targeted keyword.

Check out our recent blog to discover the mistakes to avoid in paid search engine marketing.


Paid Search vs Organic Search

Organic Search

Into my area now! Organic search is the opposite of paid search; it’s SEO. Organic search refers to unpaid listings that appear on the search results pages of search engines like Google or Bing.

These listings are ranked based on how good their website’s SEO is. They’re set apart from paid search as they won’t have ‘sponsored’ or ‘paid’ above the listing title. 

So where you would pay Google for a top listing with paid search and the subsequent traffic/clicks from that listing, organic search listings are free. Hang on, before you get super excited about the ‘free’ word, high positions in organic listings are bloody hard-earned. 

You’re effectively awarded organic listings for having the best-optimised website and most relevant content to match a user’s search query. The better you optimise the said page, the higher you will appear in search engine results pages. 




Across the industry, there are two groups; those who include SEO within SEM and those who don’t. Full disclosure, we’re in the SEO is within SEM, and we’re sticking to it. 

How can a term called SEARCH ENGINE Marketing not include SEO?! Anyway, I’m going to stop before I get going, moving on. 

If it’s not clear by now, then it’s clear that SEO and SEM are fundamental ingredients for your online marketing stew. 

On one hand, you’ve got organic search which can provide regular and constant traffic at the top of the sales funnel, then you’ve got paid search, which can be a cost-effective method to drive conversions closer to the bottom of the sales funnel. 



The Role of SEM in Digital Marketing

I’m willing to hang my hat on this and say SEM is one of the major pillars of Digital Marketing. As an umbrella term, it covers both organic search and paid search, two massively significant pillars of digital marketing. 

I’m not sure how effective Digital Marketing would be without SEM. The impact SEM can have on brand recognition, sales and lead generation and business growth is truly awesome.

For the real scoop on the role and benefits of SEM services, check out this post from our Senior Content Executive, Cora.

Tired of struggling to achieve the results that your business deserves? Do you want to know how to stay ahead of your competition, maximise your online presence and generate conversions?

Our comprehensive guide, ‘Why Hire a SEM Agency’, is free in our resources section. It could be the key to unlocking the potential of your online success.



What is SEM in Digital Marketing: How Does it Work?

You already know how effective SEM can be; when utilised correctly, you can generate recurring leads to nurture rapid sales and leads. If you’re doing it like an SEM agency, you’re on your way to fully control search results pages. 

Think about it this way, rank organically at position 1 for a specific keyword, target that keyword in a paid search campaign (optimised effectively), and you’re at position one for paid and organic search.

That’s pretty cool, and it works! 

SEM works through both the organic and paid channels and brings them together to take up as much space on search engine results as possible to attract as many qualified sales and leads, traffic or recognition as possible. 

There are some pretty crucial components of SEM that cover Organic and Paid Search; these components split SEM down into much more manageable chunks.


Best Practices And Some Helpful Tips

Here are just a few of our key tips for beginners:



Choose The Right Keywords

Take the time to ensure you carry out thorough keyword research; this is the foundational step to creating a successful SEM strategy because you’re considering your audience right out of the gate. 

Also, make sure to differentiate between paid and organic keywords, but jump at the opportunity where there’s a crossover. 



Focus On Search Intent

Many search engines, especially Google, consider search intent when ranking and determining the purpose of a user search or query. There are four main categories:

  • Navigational
  • Information 
  • Commercial
  • Transactional


Interested in learning more about the different types of keywords in SEO?



Consider Search Volume And Competition

Aim for a combination of both higher volume and much more competitive keywords as well as lower volume, more niche keywords that are incredibly relevant to your audience and how they search. 

We’d always recommend prioritising the niche terms with lower competition and search volume at the beginning of your journey and then moving on to the bigger stuff later. 



Look At The CPC

This is more for the paid search strategy; make sure you check the CPC and get an estimate of how much you could be spending, and adjust your budget accordingly to how much these keywords actually cost per click. 



Why You Need A Search Marketing Agency

Performance, performance and performance. Any reputable SEM agency will want to get you the best results and skyrocket your online presence. 

Here are just a few tasters:

  • Expertise and experience 
  • Time and resources
  • Adaptability
  • Multi-platform expertise
  • Cost-effectiveness




Are you still not convinced?! Okay, why not check out some more content to help you see the true benefit? Check out our ultimate guide on you should hire a SEM agency, or you could even check out our pages for SEO management and our PPC services.


5 Content Writing Tools For SEO

We all need a helping hand now and then, and...

5 Content Writing Tools For SEO

We all need a helping hand now and then, and...

Why is Internal Linking Important for SEO? (Your Guide)

With so many discussions around internal linking,...

Why is Internal Linking Important for SEO? (Your Guide)

With so many discussions around internal linking,...


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

GET A FREE Ads Review

Do you invest more than £1500 per month in ad spend? Find out how your performance can be improved with a FREE ads account review.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.