Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – What is it and how to apply it?

SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, is an extremely effective method of increasing the visibility of a page on a search engine, thus allowing more traffic to be directed to the website in question. Investing in SEM is a great way to not only make your page known to more people, but also a great way to increase your sales. In this article, we will explain what SEM consists of and how you can use it to your advantage.

What is SEM?

SEM (search engine marketing) is a type of digital marketing strategy focused on placing a website on the first page of search results, or even the first position on that page. The main goal is to give more visibility to the website in question, increasing traffic to it and, consequently, sales. Thus, this is an increasingly used tool in the digital world due to its great effectiveness in achieving the desired goals.


How can a page be placed at the top of the search results?

For the vast majority of terms that you decide to put into a search bar, thousands or millions of results will eventually come up. With this in mind, how do we make sure that our website appears on the first of a multitude of results pages? Or, better yet, how can our website take the first position in such a competitive range of options?


There are two main ways to appear at the top of the results for a given search:


  • Organic or natural results: these are usually displayed in the center of the page and are selected by Google’s algorithm, which evaluates the relevance of the website (through the quality of its content) and its authority (links from other pages.)


  • Paid results: or sponsored links, are displayed at the top of the results page, in a column on the right hand side, highlighted by the word “ad”. Unlike with organic results, the person who wants to position their website at the top must pay a certain amount for each click on their ad. Google Ads, for example, is a platform that many people turn to for paid results.

What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

The terms SEO and SEM are often confused, despite their obvious differences. Both are marketing channels that companies use to reach their target audience in search engines such as Google or Bing.

However, SEO directs efforts to position websites on the first page of organic search results, i.e. in this case the results presented are not paid, but natural. SEM, on the other hand, aims to increase the visibility of a website by placing it on the first page of results, from paid advertisements or sponsored links. The best known and most used SEM platform is Google Ads.

So while SEO focuses on free, organic results, SEM chooses to use paid ads to achieve the desired visibility. There are many other differences between the two tools, but this is the one that distinguishes them most clearly and the one that ultimately weighs most heavily on advertisers’ decisions.



What are the advantages of SEM?

When you have a free technique like SEO, why should you spend money on SEM? Are there such significant benefits associated with this marketing strategy? The answer is yes, there are many advantages associated with using SEM, and it is up to each individual to decide if these are worth it over the free option – SEO.


  1. SEM allows you to generate results faster

SEO tactics take some time to generate results, as it is a much more gradual process. On the contrary, SEM allows you to generate clicks and conversions much faster, specifically from the moment the ad is placed on the results page.


  1. Full control over ads

Through SEM, you have full control over when your ads are displayed and to whom. You no longer need to worry about your website page being seen in less suitable locations or directed to a less than ideal target audience. You decide everything.


  1. Easier to test and adjust campaigns

In paid advertising, you must test what works and what doesn’t. For example, the text and images in an ad may need to be adjusted. With so much data available, you can do all this quickly, so the changes will show up right away.



  1. More visibility and conversions

By investing in SEM, you know that your page will appear at the top of search results, which not only gives your website more visibility, but also allows you to generate more conversions. After all, the big goal of Google Ads and other marketing tools is brand awareness and increased sales.

However, keep in mind that not everything is a bed of roses, as there are some disadvantages to consider. First of all, by investing in SEM, you will pay for every click or impression on your ad, which can end up being expensive. Also, keep in mind that as soon as you stop paying for the ad, it will disappear, as well as all your visibility, which ends up being temporary, unlike SEO, whose results may take a while to appear, but end up staying continuously.

Most companies maintain that the combination of SEO and SEM is essential for a successful strategy. Together, these two tools can achieve the visibility and conversions you so desire. So it is up to you to choose which of these options is most advantageous for you, or if you prefer, you can also combine them.

Catarina Fonseca
Catarina Fonseca

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