What is SEM? Definition & Benefits to Your Business

You may have been familiar with SEO, but how much do you know about SEM? Understanding SEO & SEM, along with the difference between them can help your business grow even larger.

You will get incredible insight and ideas on how to skyrocket your business with the help of search engines. This post will give you a clear understanding about:

  1. What is SEM in digital marketing?
  2. What is the difference between SEM and SEO?
  3. 7 Benefits SEM can give to your business
  4. How to gain benefits from SEM for your business

Keep reading.

SEM Definition

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is any effort you take to make your business more visible and get more traffic from search engines using both organic and paid strategies.

When you type any keyword in Google, you will see two different sections in the result.


The section above usually contains advertising from any business owner that pays to get there. It’s called paid search result, which is the result of PPC (Paid per Click) Ads.

Whereas the section below contains search results that Google doesn’t get paid from anyone to put them there. It’s called organic search result, which is the result of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Both PPC Ads and SEO are part of Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

How SEM Works

Generally, when people talk about SEM, they refer to paid search marketing, a.k.a. PPC marketing. So, when you ask about how SEM works, basically, you ask about how PPC marketing works.

When you are a business owner trying to get your website on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) using PPC ads, you need to pay them.

Your website then will appear on any keyword you bid as an advertiser.

The amount you pay will decide on how higher position your ads will get on the SERP. In other words, the higher price you bid, the higher place you’ll get.


However, when you bid 1$ for your ads, it doesn’t mean that you need to pay exactly 1$ for each traffic you get from search engines.

Your cost may be higher or lower depending on how good your copy, landing page, and the quality score of your ads.

This nice illustration from SearchEngineJournal.com will make you easy to understand how those factors work. 

SEM vs SEO, What’s The Difference

The prime difference between SEO and SEM is in the objectives.

While SEM’s goal is to put your website on the SERP by any other way (paid and organic), SEO focuses on how to get organic traffic only.

So, you can say that both SEO and PPC are types of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) in this kind of structure. 

In the next discussion about the differences between SEO and SEM, you will need to view SEM as common people view it, PPC Marketing.

Next, when you look at the goals and how SEO and SEM works, you will get these differences between them.

Display on Page Result

PPC Ads will display the word “Ad” in a small box before the domain name. Sometimes, it will include an “Ad extension” below the main part.

While SEO will appear in organic results and may have some featured snippets according to the content of the website.

Cost to Pay

You don’t need to pay any money to search engines while using SEO strategies. But every time you get traffic from search engines using PPC, you need to pay some amount of money as explained before.

Target Audience

With SEO, your website will appear on SERP when anyone types the keyword you optimize for. So it is not quite targeted.

On the other hand, with SEM, you can target the audience based on location, ages, habits or any other filters. So, your target audience will be really specific and well targeted.

Time Results

It takes no time for your website to appear on the SERP as long as you complete the administration and fee. SEM Google will display your ads immediately after administration is completed.

On the flip side, it needs to take some time before your website starts to appear on Google SERP using SEO strategies. It may take weeks, months, or even years to show the result of your SEO effort.

Click through Rate (CTR)

CTR is a metric number that shows how good and effective your website performs on SERP. You can get CTR by dividing how much click the link to your website gets with how much it appears on SERP.

Currently, organic results get higher CTR than paid search results. But it only manages if your website appears on the first “5 website” on organic search results.

According to Backlinko.com, the first 5 websites on Google SERP got more that 9% CTR as displayed below.


If you conclude the differences between SEO and SEM, it will be easy to understand while looking at this table.

Aspect SEO SEM
Display In Ad design with extension in organic design with snippets
Cost pay each time user clicks no need to pay
Audience could be targeted and filtered anyone type the keyword
Time Result Immediately take time
CTR higher lower

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) Benefits

Now it’s time to talk about what benefits you get by using SEM strategy.

This ultimate way of marketing will give you a huge benefit over your competitor who is not doing this strategy.

Instant Brand Awareness

How big is your chance to make someone who knows nothing about you or your business to buy your products or services?

Almost none.

You need to make your brand name recognized and familiar to your customers to make them purchase your products.

And by using SEM Google, you can make your audience aware about your business almost instantly.

Quick and Scalable Revenues

When you’re doing a business on a tight budget, you must want to generate revenues quickly.

Search engine marketing Google will help you bring prospects, leads, and customers to your business instantly.

It’s easy to calculate how much your search engine marketing price is and compare it with your revenue. So you can analyze how effective your search engine marketing budget is.

Therefore, you can scale up your budget by creating some types of marketing campaigns and boost the effective one.

Well Targeted People

SEM platforms will allow you to show your business in front of the people who need it most in the right time and the right place.

You can use geo targeted audiences, in certain countries, cities and even in certain languages. Moreover, you can target people based on their history and behaviour in online activities.

Therefore, your chance of getting conversions will naturally be higher.

Even if your prospects don’t buy immediately, you still have a chance by keeping them in touch using email or notifications.

Reinforce Name Recognition

It may be hard to make people purchase at the first time contact. But as long as you maintain your business presence, people will remember your products or services when they eventually need them.

Experts estimate it may take 7 to 13 times to interacti before people make their first purchase.

And using internet marketing strategy, it becomes a lot easier to retarget them and make them purchase even more.

Low Cost High Revenue

Compare it with an advertising in TV programme, you will find this search engine marketing strategy less expensive. It is even less expensive compared to outdoor displayed ads. 

And more importantly, it will give you higher revenue  because of well targeted audiences for your ads.

How to Start Using Search Engine Marketing for Business

Search engine marketing is indeed very promising but it could be tricky for someone who doesn’t have enough knowledge and experiences.

We bet you don’t want to gamble on your business. Hence, it’s better you use a search engine marketing agency to manage your ads.

SMEbro.com has very broad knowledge and long experience in SEM, both SEO and Paid Search Marketing. 

We have helped many companies in various business fields to manage their SEM management and drive 200% increase in traffic and sales.

It’s time for you to gain benefits from SEM and leave your competitors behind.

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