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What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a type of Internet marketing through which a website or application promotes itself by raising its visibility in search engine results via some form of advertising. The paid links you see at the very top when you Google something are examples of SEMs. Most SEM efforts require the use of search engine optimization (SEO) which is the process by which a website modifies its content and on-site architecture to increase its chances of appearing on the first page of search engine results.

In essence, SEM is the practice of increasing visibility by purchasing advertisements on search engines. This strategy can be very effective as most Internet users rely on search engines to be a gateway to the Internet. Common forms of SEM include pay-per-click advertising, cost-per-click advertising, and cost-per-thousand impressions.

The importance of keywords to SEM

Keywords and keyword research are the foundations of searching engine marketing.  Keywords form the basis of SEO and as they are the most critical aspect of search queries, the importance of choosing the right keyword management strategy cannot be underestimated. Every business that seeks to use SEM must conduct detailed research as to which keywords are most relevant to its business.

There are numerous free and paid keyword research tools to aid you in this endeavor based on the precision of the results you are seeking. Identifying the words that your prospective customers are most likely to use is critical to SEM. In addition, businesses should also be on the lookout for negative or irrelevant keywords that may seem relevant to what the website is about but is completely different. Such terms should be excluded from paid SEM activities.  For example, a football website that reviews football matches and analysis is highly likely to be different from terms such as ‘best football studs’ as the former is about football analysis and the latter is about purchasing football shoes.

What about AdWords and Bing Ads?

Google AdWords and Bing Ads are the most popular paid search platforms in the world.  They are web-based advertising tools that gain precedence as they utilize keywords in a manner that directly delivers ads to web users searching for information about a particular product or service. The way a website structures its AdWords and Bing Ads could be the difference between the success and failure of an ad campaign.

Crucially, businesses must also pay great attention to the ad auction processes. Whenever a user enters a search query, an ad auction takes place. Hence, there are literally thousands of ad auctions every minute. To enter an ad auction, advertisers need to identify what keywords they want to bid on and the size of their budget. AdWords in particular is a platform where relevance to a user’s query takes more importance than the size of the advertiser’s budget. If Google’s algorithm determines your keywords are relevant to a particular query, your ads will be displayed.

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