Magnifying Glass on Computer Keyboard, What is Meant by Search Engine Marketing

What is Meant by Search Engine Marketing?

The definition of Search Engine Marketing can depend on which site you’re on and who you’re talking to. Don’t get it twisted, though, we’ve got the definitive answer for you. 


What is Meant by Search Engine Marketing?


Search Engine Marketing, or SEM for short,  is a form of Digital Marketing strategy that encompasses a range of techniques, all with the main goal of improving the visibility of websites on search engine results pages.

The confusion lies with some within the industry thinking that SEM only includes paid techniques; in reality, Search Engine Marketing consists of both paid and organic digital marketing techniques. 

A group of Marketeers have splintered off from the rest and decided that SEM refers to exclusively paid digital marketing. This is probably because they believe paid makes up the majority of the strategy, whereas the SEO actions are small and may not always be involved in their strategies. We and the rest of the sane folks in the digital marketing community think it is still a necessary part of the overall definition of the strategy. Backlinko is on our side though, they’ve got a good article on the difference between SEO and SEM

It’s a bit like those ‘may contain nuts’ disclaimers; if there’s a chance that said chocolate bar contains nuts, then you don’t remove the disclaimer. But, in this instance is not a potentially life-threatening decision but a little pet peeve from some parts of the SEO community! 

So, from now, you can think of it like this: Search Engine Marketing is the wider digital marketing strategy that incorporates SEO and Paid techniques working in tandem to increase website visibility on search results. 


How does SEM work?

penguin running

Different strategy, same old search engine algorithm! As you’re probably aware, search engines use very complicated algorithms to make sure that all user searches and queries are met with the most relevant results. The aim is always to benefit search engine users the most.

Separately, SEO is the process of organically driving a website up search engine results pages over what can be quite a long time. Paid search, on the other hand, Paid search is spending money to automatically occupy the top spot on search engine results and taking a more prominent place in doing so—much to the annoyance of many SEOs out there. 

Paid search is an easier, more time-effective way to grab your customer’s attention, but it is much more expensive. SEO is time-consuming and can be resource intensive but has the potential to gain conversions from the exact target audience without spending the same amount as a paid search campaign. 

A Search Engine Marketing strategy differs as it uses SEO and paid search. Instead of working separately, SEO and paid search come together under SEM to become one hell of a digital marketing strategy. 

The link between SEO and paid search is an integral part of the concept of Search Engine Marketing. If it just refers to paid search and advertising, then why even call it SEM? Just stick with paid ads, paid search or even paid to advertise if that was the case! 

Whining aside, the real quality SEM strategies come when both teams are coordinated, sharing their goals, metrics and data to determine future strategies and which channel to prioritise and which to amend and reevaluate. 


Why Search Engine Marketing Matters

Look, we’re going to give you the same old same old here. There’s a buttload of people online, and the number keeps increasing exponentially each minute. A lot of which like spending more and learning neat things, so neglecting Search Engine Marketing is foolish, and you know it; otherwise, you wouldn’t be here. 

SEM doesn’t just matter from a good business perspective; it matters to the digital marketing industry as a whole. Adopting SEM can make us all so much more competent as Marketers; well-rounded, data-informed decisions make the internet go round! Take it from our good friend DJ Khaled ⬇️

Two smartly dressed men on stage with microphones, what is meant by search engine marketing


Key points to take away

Explained in two sentences. 

SEM is an umbrella term for a digital marketing strategy that includes a range of techniques, that does include both SEO and paid search. The aim of SEM is to improve a website’s search engine visibility. 

Is it worth it?

Yes, every business has a target audience, and it’s a guarantee that the audience will be out there, Googlin their little hearts out. 


Stop picking on SEO, play nice and be inclusive. Without SEO a SEM strategy will lack an oomph! 


No, it’s so much more than that. PPC is a paid search technique, and Search Engine Marketing is a broad digital marketing strategy that can include PPC.

Is Social Media Marketing included in SEM?

Well, aren’t you a prickly pear! Yes, where PPC is the big sibling, SEO is the middle child, and SMM is the little sibling. They’re new on the scene, a little bit annoying can be quite enjoyable and has to be included. 

Interested in how a Search Engine Marketing strategy could align with your business goals and objectives? Enquire with us and our digital marketing services for bespoke data-driven search engine marketing services! 

Speak to one of our specialists today for a free consultation!


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