What is SEM and How Can You Increase Clickthrough Rate on SEM Ads

When choosing your marketing strategy, you need to utilize tools that optimize your brand's visibility. You can use a few methods to do this: SEO, social media, creating a prominent voice for your brand, or optimizing your SEM usage. You’ve likely heard these buzzwords in the industry, but maybe you’ve wondered, “What is SEM?” or, “How do you use SEM?” 

SEM, or search engine marketing, is the act of using paid strategies to increase your visibility. Unlike SEO or PPC, SEM uses exclusively paid strategies to reach your potential customers. This blanket term refers to any online activity used to increase brand awareness through paid ads. PPC exists as a type of SEM, but various other strategies fall under the SEM umbrella. 

Why Use SEM? 

SEM benefits businesses in a number of ways. It targets your key audience, your campaign gets priority on search engines, you can track data, and you only pay for leads. 

Google Ads and Bing Ads are the most common platforms for SEM campaigns. These search engines get you in front of the largest audience. You can choose to use both to get an even broader reach. By serving ads on partner sites, such as Yahoo and MSN, Bing Ads connects you with servers that aren’t exclusively on Google. SEM uniquely propels your business to reach more than those who already visit your socials. 

How to use SEM? 

When you set up an SEM campaign, choose the keywords you want to use or avoid. You can use four categories of keywords for your search—broad match keywords, phrase match keywords, exact match keywords, and negative keywords. Each category serves a unique purpose and will help you narrow in on your target audience. 

Broad Match Keywords—This targets variations of the term or phrase, including similar phrases, misspellings, stemmings, or synonyms. 

Phrase Match Keywords—This targets the exact phrase, plus any phrase that has words that come before or after the target keyword. For example, if the target keyword is stockbroker, the campaign will also target best stockbroker or stockbroker near me. 

Exact Match Keywords—This targets words very closely related to the target term, including misspellings, singular or plural forms, abbreviations, paraphrases, or closely related words with the same search intent. 

Negative Keywords—This excludes terms you don’t want to target. These terms may closely relate to your target term, but not to the search intent. 

Along with keywords, target your audience through demographics, psychographics, schedule targeting, and divide targeting. You have control over where your ad goes and who sees it. Your account structure determines the way your SEM ads get set up. Use campaigns, ads, or keywords and ads. 

Campaigns—Campaigns are the highest level within an account. Each campaign has its own unique goal, budget, bid strategy, and target settings. Campaigns typically organize accounts into larger themes such as specific products, services, or promotions. 

Ad Groups—Within a campaign, specific ad groups break down into even more specific themes. Most campaigns have a few different ad groups. For example, you may have one targeting part-time stockbrokers and one targeting full time stockbrokers. 

Keywords and Ads—Each ad has its own specific set of keywords and phrases. The keywords and ad copy target the ad group's unique audience and theme. You shouldn’t have more than twenty keywords per ad group. 

On top of all of these tools, you need strong copy in all of your campaigns. SEM is dependent on thorough research of your market, SEO, and smart bidding. Just because you set up a campaign doesn’t mean it shows up every time. You have to create a strong set of ads, and bid on your keywords strategically. 

You can do this using a few methods. One way: do your research before creating an ad. Knowing what keywords to bid on will give you a leg up in the long run. You can also create compelling ads that stand out from your competitors. The better your campaign performs, the more likely the platforms will push it on their page. 

Who is SEM good for?

You may be satisfied with your results from social media, PPC, and general SEO, but SEM will give you an advantage like no other form of marketing. You can only reach so many people without paid marketing. It’s important to use both when attempting to propel your business. SEM leads to more reach, more clicks, and more data—all valuable to a growing business. 

Whether you’ve been in business 1, 5, or 15 years, SEM works as a great tool to implement in your marketing strategy. SEM gives anyone the potential to grow an online presence, or even simply push people into their store. 

If you want a guranteed, strategic, and targeted way to reach your audience, use SEM as part of your next business move.

Picture of Nick Ponte

Nick Ponte

Born and raised on Maui, Nick was employed as an automobile mechanic before founding his own local marketing agency. Nick naturally wrestled with the change from tradesman to marketer (not an easy transition) but, like Tom, he wouldn't give up. Through years of commitment, Nick has grown to be a highly skilled web developer and marketing expert with a specialized skill-sets in a variety of fields. He has developed many high-traffic, high-quality websites that incorporate the best practices for today's digital marketing. Today, Nick eagerly shares his experience and knowledge by helping others in cultivating their business.

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