Search Engine Marketing

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can be roughly categorised into two sections: SEO (Search Engine Optimisation, referring to the organic section of search results) and paid search (also known as pay-per-click or PPC) (Pan, 2015). Done correctly, these two approaches to SEM improve the ranking of your business on a search engine results page. Success in organic search rankings involves website optimisation, focused content development and publicity activities. Paid search success requires strategic selection of keywords, effective ad campaigns, and the close management of your paid advertising account such as Google AdWords. It is important to remember that while search results and ads might bring consumers to your website, you must also look at what will keep them there. Search engines continuously update their ranking algorithms in order to provide better results, and businesses are rewarded when customer experience is optimised through relevant landing pages, faster page-loading times, and site compatibility with mobile devices.

Making the most of AdWords

The aim of SEM is to reach the right customers at the right time in order to increase traffic to your website, increase sales or other conversions, or raise brand awareness. SEM tools such as Google AdWords take the guesswork out of advertising and managers can closely follow the customer journey to see where and how customers are interacting with their business.  The Google AdWords course provides a comprehensive introduction into online advertising, the function of SEM, how to set up an AdWords campaign and how to improve your results.

AdWords campaign types are centred around Google’s advertising networks: the Google Search Network, the Google Display Network, and the YouTube Network. The network you choose depends on your business needs and campaign objectives.”Managing an SEM campaign requires constant monitoring, testing, tweaking, optimization, and learning” (Sept, 2015). High ranks in search network results are desirable but they are not a definitive measure of AdWords campaign success. If your ad is less relevant and text snippets less attractive than other results, users still will not click. In order to capture the different ways customers search for your product or service, it is essential to use a variety of relevant keywords, create compelling ads, and provide useful, unique content. Google recommends checking in on your AdWords account at least once a week to see how your ads and keywords are performing, and make any necessary adjustments. Using AdWords statistics to analyse campaign performance, and refine your ads, keywords, budget and bidding options will lead to a better return on investment, and can also help you plan more effectively for future campaigns.

SEM is an investment and there are always new features that can be used to improve organic and paid search results. Digital marketers must ensure they keep up-to-date with these changes in order to maximise the potential success of campaigns and maintain competitive advantage for their business (Hull, 2016).

Search Engine Marketing – a curious mix

“Search marketing demands a curious mix of business, writing and technical skills” (Moran & Hunt, 2014, p. xvii). The Google AdWords course has made me reflect on how I use text, visuals and call-to-actions (CTAs) to promote customer engagement via social media and warm email channels, and drive traffic to our website. The course also reminded me of the need to carefully select appropriate landing pages that match the description in the social post or email. Many elements of the AdWords course complement the Google Analytics Academy course. Having recently completed the Analytics Academy course, I was able to see the bigger marketing picture and better understand the relationship between SEM and multi-channel attribution models, and the overall objective of attracting more motivated clicks and ultimately more customers.


Hull, J. (2016). Google announces upcoming AdWords UI upgrades. iProspect. Retrieved 9 April 2016, from

Pan, B. (2015). The power of search engine ranking for tourist destinations. Tourism Management, 47, 79-87.

Moran, M., & Hunt, B. (2014). Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company’s Website (3rd ed.). IBM Press.

Sept, A. (2015). Getting results with search engine marketing. Upwork. Retrieved 4 April 2016, from


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