🎉 Get certified in 21 hours, with up to 70% subsidy. Enquire now! 🧑‍💻

All You Need to Know About Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

by | Oct 28, 2022

SEM is an umbrella term containing a variety of strategies and techniques extensively utilised on search engines for marketing purposes. Some examples include: Google, Bing, Yahoo, and more.

SEM is an effective strategy for growing your business and expanding your reach to new prospective customers. If you are a beginner who might be wondering “How does search engine marketing work?”, you are in the right place! In this article, we will be covering the fundamental concepts of the search engine marketing process.

Overview of Search Engine Marketing

Search engine in digital marketing is becoming increasingly important for businesses. As customers tend to search for products and services online, it is essential for businesses to reach and sustain a good level of search visibility. This is where SEM comes into the picture, using paid strategies to enhance the business’s search visibility online. 

Businesses leverage SEM to ensure that their products and services appear in relevant search results on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Upon typing a keyword, prospective customers can view the paid ad listed at the top SERP.

What’s the difference between SEO & SEM?

SEO VS SEM - Vertical Institute

Both SEO and SEM revolve around search engine results and serve as core components of a successful online marketing strategy. However, they are different.

SEM refers to the deployment of paid advertisements on search engine platforms to rank on the first page of SERPs.  Paid search tactics are used in search engine marketing to boost a company’s online visibility, services, and goods. 

On the contrary, SEO is centred around different types of strategies that are free. You can get on the first page of SERPs without having to pay Google or any other platforms with SEO. 

After reviewing the basic concepts of SEO and SEM, let us examine their differences below.

Organic strategyPaid strategy
Visible to everyoneVisible to the targeted audience
Utilised for blogs and web pages which contain relevant and educational contentUtilised for landing pages for interested prospects who are ready to purchase
Long-term results Instantaneous results
Gains traffic overtimeGains traffic immediately

Benefits of Search Engine Marketing

Now that we have a clearer understanding of SEM, we can now explore the benefits it offers.

Spreading Brand Awareness

By deploying paid advertising strategies, your business can stand out from the crowd. Your ads, regardless of whether it is the headline or the description that captures users’ attention, can potentially create a lasting impression for the users.

Immediate Results

SEM provides immediate results, where prospective customers are able to find your ad once they search for relevant keywords related to your brand, and the type of products and services you offer. If your ad copy is attractive, prospective customers would click on the ad and drive traffic to your website. 

Ease of Targeting Audience

SEM allows you to target users through demographic factors like the location users are based in, age groups, races, socioeconomic groups, and interests.

Monitoring Performance

One huge benefit of SEM is that you are given the ability to measure the effectiveness of your ads in real-time and make adjustments to your strategy accordingly.

How do I start implementing SEM?

In order to start implementing SEM, you have to enter an ad auction. We would be covering the Ad Auction in Google Ads in this article.

Every Google Ad is subjected to an ad auction before appearing in the SERPs. To participate in an ad auction, you have to identify and select keywords to bid. You should also set aside a budget of how much you are prepared to spend per click for each keyword. You are then placed into the ad auction once Google deems that the keywords bid are present within a user’s search query.

However, it is important to note that not every ad would be displayed on every search related to that particular keyword. This is because some keywords do not possess enough commercial intent for ads to be implemented on the SERPS.

Furthermore, just because your term is a good ad fit, it does not guarantee you have won the bidding. When deciding which advertisements to display on the SERPs, the ad auction takes into account two major factors. Firstly, your maximum bid and secondly, the Quality Score of your ad. 

The more relevant your ad is to the user, alongside the likelihood of the user clicking through and enjoying the landing page experience, the better the quality score.

Features of SEM

To formulate a successful marketing strategy, one would need to understand how the paid advertising platforms operate, as well as to properly manage the features of search engine marketing that impact performance. Examples of these variables are keywords, budget, and copy.

Some recommended features to incorporate in your SEM strategy include but are not limited to:

Keyword Intent

Identifying suitable keywords to bid on is the focal point of every PPC (Pay-Per-Click) strategy. Extensive research is required, for instance, researching what keywords to bid on, setting aside the intended budget, and more. If you have a small budget, it is recommended to concentrate on bidding for keywords with transactional intent. If you have a bigger budget, you can look into bidding for more types of keywords – informational, navigational, and commercial.

Keyword Volume and Competition

Targeting keywords with volume is essential because there would likely be no results if nobody is searching for your targeted keywords. It is highly recommended to target relevant keywords of high volume and low competition, although it might be challenging to find such keywords. 

Keyword Cost

Ad placement is influenced by the amount of bid you specified for the keyword alongside the quality score of your ad. In order to attain the best ad placement, higher bids and higher quality ads are necessary.

Ad Campaign Structure

Having a proper ad campaign structure is crucial to ensure both a high-quality score and no overspending. There are various levels:

  • Ad : The copy the for chosen keywords
  • Keywords: Queries you are bidding
  • Ad Group: Set of keywords
  • Campaign: Highest level of managing ad groups

You are able to evaluate the performance and the budgeting at each level.

  • Ad Copy

Copywriting is the key to garnering more clicks on top of leveraging identified relevant keywords and having a proper ad campaign structure in place. An ad consists of a title, a display URL, and a description. These components should encapsulate what users are searching for.

How to learn Search Engine Marketing?


Now that you have a better understanding of the fundamentals and concepts of search engine marketing, you might want to learn how to effectively execute search engine marketing techniques. If you are looking for a search engine marketing course, look no further.

You can acquire these valuable skills and knowledge by signing up for Vertical Institute’s beginner-friendly Digital Marketing Course led by industry experts. Not only will you get to learn SEM, but you also get to gain hands-on experience in SEO, Google Analytics, content marketing, email marketing and so much more. Additionally, you can apply what you have learned by carrying out your own digital marketing campaign. Upon completing the bootcamp, you stand to receive a professional certification that boosts your resume.

Kickstart your Digital Marketing journey today!

Besides digital marketing, Vertical Institute also offers UX Design and Data Analytics courses in Singapore. These are some tech skills that are highly in-demand today and will be helpful for your digital marketing career.

In addition, staying up-to-date with current marketing trends in the Singapore market through these courses can be valuable for SEM agencies.

About Vertical Institute

Vertical Institute prepares individuals for the jobs of tomorrow. We specialise in teaching in-demand skills, building the next generation of changemakers and inventors through our world-class tech courses and certifications. 

Singaporeans and PRs can receive up to 70% IBF Funding off their course fees with Vertical Institute. The remaining fees can be claimable with SkillsFuture Credits or NTUC UTAP Funding.

You May Also Like