Confused about search engine marketing? With all the ways you are now able to market yourself online, Advanta wanted to give a brief overview of the different terms you might come across, in order to help make better informed decisions about your next advertising adventure. We had our SEO Analyst, Darcy, give us a rundown of the differences between SEM, PPC, SEO, and other acronyms related to your digital marketing options.

Advanta Advertising Knowledge Center What Is SEM & Paid Search article Google SERPs results

What Is SEM?

Typically, SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, refers to increasing website traffic by purchasing ads on search engines. Traditionally, SEM incorporated SEO (Search Engine Optimization), as it also uses the Internet to market and promote websites by increasing their visibility in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) listings.

While SEM uses SEO tactics to accomplish some of its results, it is a separate practice from SEO, which focuses on organic, non-paid, results in SERPs. SEO works hand-in-hand with SEM, but they are not the same term and do not use the same tactics to earn results.

True SEM cannot succeed without the use of (organic) SEO. 1

SEM uses paid search, i.e., Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and advertisements, as well as Social Media Marketing (SMM).

Common SEM Terms

  • Paid search
  • Paid search advertising
  • PPC (“pay-per-click” and/or “pay-per-call”)
  • CPC (cost-per-click)
  • CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) 2

What Is SEM Good For?

Upon site launch, a coordinated PPC campaign can be helpful to increase immediate visibility, as long as the site was created with SEO.

SEM via PPC is also beneficial in a more competitive industry, against competitors who would be ranking well for similar keywords.

PPC does not help establish a search credibility, like SEO does, but it has faster results.

SEM using (paid) social media marketing campaigns builds off-page SEO by linking to your website from verified social media platforms, which have a high domain authority with Google and other major search engines, like Bing and Yahoo!.

Insights on the AdWords Auction by Google Small Business

In 2014, Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, provided an in-depth and insightful overview of how the AdWords PPC auction works.

Now that you’re a bit more knowledgeable in the world of online SEM and PPC marketing, contact Advanta today so we can help plan out your next digital advertising adventure!