June 27th, 2016
There are approximately 4.49 billion webpages in the world today, and 44% of online shoppers begin their online experience by using a search engine. With that kind of clutter littering the "information superhighway," website builders and marketing leaders have their work cut out for them when trying to make a splash. How to get noticed by eager searchers? The answer may lie in SEM, or paid search.
Once upon a time, SEM, or "Search Engine Marketing," was an all-encompassing term that included both SEO (search engine optimization) and paid search. Over time, as each practice has become more common, SEM was refined to mean only paid search.
Basically, any company, organization, or individual may pay to boost their site to the top of search results, essentially increasing the chance that users will click, and therefore generating a higher chance of possible leads. Google AdWords is the most popular paid search platform -- according to the online search expert Moz, 80% of search results now contain AdWords ad placements. Bing Ads follows and serves a large portion of ads on the search engine Yahoo.
Some essential terms in the paid search world are necessary to understand, especially if you plan to implement a paid search strategy in tandem with a general digital marketing outlook. CPC, or cost-per-click, means that the advertiser pays the search engine for every time a user clicks on that their ad. Cost-per-impression (CPI | CPM) means that the advertiser pays the search engine for every 1,000 times their ad appears on the page. This does not reflect whether or not a user clicks through to a site; it is merely a measurement of page impressions.
Google AdWords will place your ads on either the Google Search Network, which is the standard Google interface that includes Shopping, Maps, and other search partners; or Google Display Network, which consists of any website that partners with Google, such as Gmail, YouTube, and Blogger. Paid search results appear at the top of the results page, and are distinguished from the organic results with a small "ad" logo.
AdWords has been proven to work well, but SEM is only part of a multi-faceted approach to internet marketing. What's important is having a mix of digital marketing strategies and investing in both organic and inorganic SEM.