What is Search Engine Marketing? Here is the Complete Guide!

If you’re looking to promote your company online, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a tactic you should try. For one, SEM ensures that your website will appear on the first page of relevant search results as soon as possible.

SEM may only take a few days or hours to get your website up and running, in contrast to an SEO strategy that may take months.

What, then, is SEM? The benefits of using SEM for marketing are numerous. To that end, this article provides an in-depth analysis of the topic. Wait until it’s done, I say!

What is SEM (Search Engine Marketing)?

Paid advertising on search engines, or “Search Engine Marketing,” is one way to raise a website’s rankings.

Then how does SEM work? Advertisers set up SEM campaigns with keywords relevant to their business or product. 

When someone types in these keywords, the advertiser’s website appears in Google’s search results. So that the advertiser’s website can be seen by prospective clients (get an impression). 

Nonetheless, by that time, the advertisers have lost nothing. Considering that PPC is the standard for most search engines. That is, when a user clicks on an ad for the first time, the advertiser will have to fork over money.

You can find SEM on almost all search engines, from Google to Bing. However, the most frequently used is Google. Because Google controls the search engine market share of 92.47%.

Usually websites that use SEM appear at the top or bottom of search pages. You’ll also find the words “Ads” or “Ads” scattered throughout the website.

Not only in written form, Search Engine Marketing can also appear in the form of product displays.

At this point, you may be confused. Then what is the difference between SEO and SEM? 

The goal of SEM and SEO is the same, namely showing your website on search engine. However, these two strategies have some differences. 

For example, the display that appears from implementing SEM has an “Ad” or “Ad” sign. Usually ads will be displayed in the top position compared to websites that don’t advertise.

Meanwhile, the search results from SEO have no adverts underneath. Websites with SEO will be displayed below websites that use SEM.

What are the Benefits of Search Engine Marketing?

After listening to the differences between SEO vs SEM, you may wonder why you should use SEM. So, here are some of the benefits of Search Engine Marketing that you can experience:

1. Potential to Increase Conversion Rate

Search Engine Marketing is commonly used to increase conversion rates on websites. You do this by targeting keywords with search intent purchases.

For example, you advertise a wholesale shoe business. You advertise through the keyword “selling cheap shoes”. 

When a potential customer wants to buy shoes and types in these keywords, your website will appear on the first page as an advertisement. 

So what are the benefits if an ad is on the first page?

The position of the ad in the search results will affect the Click Through Rate (CTR) or the number of people who click on the ad. So, the higher your ad’s position in search results, the higher the CTR level. 

In fact, ads in the first position of search results will get an average of 7% clicks, you know. Meanwhile, the second position gets 3% clicks and the third position gets 2.5% clicks.

When your website gets a lot of clicks, it’s likely that customers will immediately find what they bought on your landing page and make a purchase. That way, your conversion rate will increase.

2. Relatively Faster Results Than SEO

SEM typically yields faster outcomes than SEO. That’s because as soon as your sponsored ad goes live on Google, traffic to your site increases rapidly.

Not only that, but you can extend the number of ads shown on the front page if you so choose. As an added convenience, you can cancel your subscription at any time.

Well, it’s different if you use SEO. Your website content cannot immediately appear on the first page of search results. You need time for the SEO strategy that you apply to be successful. 

3. Can Determine Target Audience

SEM allows for the establishment of objective-based goals. To do this, you must first define your target audience in Google Ads. Location, age, gender, and even availability can all be used to tailor goals.

By targeting a specific audience, your ad will get customer traffic that fits your target. So, your ad will be more effective in increasing sales.

You can’t do that if you use SEO. Your target audience will only click on your website when your content matches their search intent. 

4. It doesn’t cost a lot

You can set your own spending limits, which is one of Search Engine Marketing’s many advantages. Prices range from hundreds of thousands to millions to tens of millions of rupiah.

When compared to traditional forms of advertising, the price of a search engine optimization campaign is noticeably lower. Such methods include erecting billboards with a potential audience of hundreds of millions.

As an added bonus, there are still opportunities to lessen the amount spent on SEM. By, say, aiming for a large number of pertinent keywords, allocating funds for an SEM campaign, and assessing the performance of individual keywords, among other strategies.

Perhaps now that you are aware of the advantages of Search Engine Marketing, you can see why it is the best tactic for promoting your business and website.

You should get the word out, but not too quickly. First, you should learn about the various SEO tactics. See you in the next round of talks!

Search Engine Marketing Components You Must Know

Here are the various components that you will encounter when practicing Search Engine Marketing:

1. Search Engine Marketing Platform

When advertising using SEM, advertisers usually use two platforms, namely Google Adwords (Google Ads) and Bing Ads . Bing Ads is an advertising platform owned by Microsoft. 

The Pay-Per-Click model is used by both of these services. However, there are distinctions between Google Adwords and Bing Ads. Several key distinctions are outlined below.

Search Reach

dominates the search engine market share. Google controls the market close to 92.47%, while Bing Ads is only 5.56%. 

It’s no wonder that Google Adwords has more traffic than Bing Ads.

Google Adwords has 100 billion traffic per month. Meanwhile, Bing Ads only has 1 billion traffic per month. 


In terms of costs, using Google Adwords is indeed more expensive than Bing Ads. Because Google Adwords has a wide search range. 

Based on data from Report Garden, the average Cost Per Click (CPC) from Google Adwords reaches 20 dollars. While Bing Ads is only 8 dollars. 


Google users are mostly young. The proof, there are only about 45% of users who are over 45 years old. However, an audience over the age of 45 may have a higher income to make a purchase. 

That can be a bit of a pain if you’re deliberately targeting an audience over the age of 50 from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, or some other Western country. This is because your ad reach and conversions will not be maximized if you use Google Adwords. 

You can reach older audiences that are not reached by Google Adwords using Bing Ads.because Bing Ads is able to reach 60 million older people who have an income of over 100 thousand dollars. 

That is the dissimilarity between Bing Ads and Google Adwords. The following table can help you feel more confident in your platform selection:

Parameters Google Adwords Bing Ads
Search Reach 100 billion traffic per month 1 billion traffic per month
Cost Average Average 8 dollars per click
Demographics Younger age More old age with higher income


2. Types of SEM Keywords

When designing a Search Engine Marketing campaign, choosing keywords is the key to campaign success. Well, in SEM, we work with four distinct varieties of keywords, including:

Broad Match Keywords

Broad match keywords are keywords that are very general in nature. So, this type of keyword allows you to capture a diverse audience with high traffic.

Broad match is also Google Adwords default keyword. If you target one broad match keyword, your ad will appear on many keywords. However, your ads can also appear in irrelevant themes.

For example, you target the keyword “party dress” for your SEM campaign. Then your ad will also appear when a customer types in the keywords “party dress”, “brocade dress”, or “invitation dress”. 

Phrase match keywords

Phrase match keywords are keywords that are more specific than broad match keywords. However, on these keywords you can still manage your audience according to your specifications. 

By using match keyword phrases, you can get an audience with moderate levels of specifications with moderate traffic.

When using a match keyword phrase, you can add another word in front of or behind the keyword. 

Earlier, you may have focused on the term “party dress” as an example. You can also use and buy party dresses if you want to look your best at a low price.

Exact Match Keywords

Exact match keywords are the opposite of broad match keywords, which are very specific and focused keywords.

By using exact match keywords, the keywords must be written exactly to appear in your ad. That is, the traffic generated is low. However, the audience that sees your ad is very specific.

For example, the exact match keyword for a party dress is a dress for a party, a party dress, and a dress for a party. 

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are keywords that you should avoid. Because keywords that fall into this category are irrelevant for your business.

Let’s say you sell party dresses. You want your ad to appear in search results for potential customers who want to go to a party in a pre-made dress. Then the negative keyword is sewing party dresses or used party dresses. 

To make it clearer in distinguishing the types of keywords above, consider the table below:

Types of Keywords Description Examples Performance
Broad Match Keyword Keywords that are very general in nature. For the keyword party dress, the broad match is party clothes, brocade dresses, and invitation dresses. High traffic, general and diverse audience.
Phrase Match Keyword Keywords that are more focused but still provide flexibility to set the target audience.  cheap party dresses, sell party dresses, buy party dresses Medium traffic, audience approaching specific
Exact Match Keyword The opposite of broad match keywords, namely keywords that are very specific and focused. dress for party, dress for party, and dress for party Low traffic, very specific audience
Negative Keywords Keywords you should avoid. Because these keywords are irrelevant for your business. sewing party dresses or used party dresses Low traffic, inappropriate audience. 


3. Targeting Audience

After determining keywords, you need to do targeting. Targeting Search Engine Marketing is setting some parameters for your ad serving. The following are the parameters:


You can define the location coverage area of ​​your target audience. For example, you have an online travel business. So, you can target an audience from Singapore who wants to travel to New York. 


Don’t fret that your advertisement won’t be seen during peak viewing times because your demographic is preoccupied. Your ad will only run for as long as you specify. 

For example, your target audience is office workers. From 9am to 5pm, they will be extremely busy. So you can show your ad from 7 pm. 

Target audience behavior

Based on their actions, you can narrow in on your ideal clientele. Advertisements can be targeted to people who have previously interacted with your website. Remarketing describes this practice.

Remarketing aims to re-approach visitors who have interacted with your website but have not yet made a purchase. In that way, you increase the possibility of visitors to become your customers.

Not only that. Your target audience may also include people who are already patronizing your competitors. The goal is to acquire their customers to become yours. 


can also target the target audience based on the device they are using. For example a desktop or smartphone. 

For example, you are advertising a product in the form of your online shop shopping application. Then it is certain that the target audience is smartphone users. So, how come you can only display your ads specifically on smartphones.

You can even target your audience based on the type of smartphone operating system (OS) they use. For example Android or iOS. 

Age and gender

An individual’s target audience can be narrowed down to a specific age range and gender. One such product is one that helps mothers produce breast milk. Obviously, your target demographic will be women of a specific age range.

4. Search Engine Marketing

Account Structure The SEM account structure groups the keywords you choose for your SEM campaigns. 

Then, why should it be grouped?

Setting the campaign budget

Maybe you can use all the selected keywords for one SEM campaign. If some keywords receive a lot of traffic and clicks, however, your budget could quickly balloon. 

Well, this is where you need an SEM account structure. By grouping keywords, you can set the budget for each selected keyword. That way, you know exactly how much you can spend on each keyword.

Saving your campaign budget

can more easily monitor keyword performance. That way you will find keywords that have a high CTR and a low Cost Per Click.

You can use these keywords for the next campaign. The goal is to optimize campaign performance with an economical budget.

Focus on targeting the right audience

SEM account structure allows you to separate your campaigns. For example based on product type, audience location, or specific goals such as increased conversions or brand awareness. 

This grouping helps you target a specific audience. In addition, it will be easier for you to manage the strategy for each campaign. 

How to set up SEM account structure?

  1. Campaign

Google Ads’ Campaign tab is in the primary position. Keywords related to a product’s overall theme can be managed via campaigns. 

Each Campaign has several groupings, namely

  • Budget Settings, which are costs set for each Campaign. 
  • Goal, namely the goal of each Campaign.
  • Bid, which is the maximum Cost Per Click you are willing to pay.
  • Targeting, namely determining the audience of your ad.

For example, you want to advertise boarding house management services. You can group campaigns into two, namely Boarding Rentals and Boarding Listings. 

The Kos Rent campaign has targeting for the renters of the boarding house. Foreign students between the ages of 20 and 23 are one such group. While the boarding listing campaign is for boarding house owners who want to advertise their boarding houses.

After that, set the budget for each campaign. For example $300 per day for a Boarding House campaign and $500 per day for a Boarding Listing campaign.

In your Rent Room campaign you bid $0.10 per click. Meanwhile, the Cost Listing campaign is $ 0.20 per click.

  1. Ad Groups

Each Campaign has Ad Groups. To organize more specific keyword phrases, advertisers create ad groups.

Multiple Ad Groups are typical for a single Campaign. However, a maximum of 10 Ad Groups should be used in a single Campaign.

For example, the Boarding Rental Campaign has 2 Ad Groups, namely Near Boarding Rentals and Cheap Boarding Rentals, while the Boarding Listing Campaign has 1 Ad Group, namely Boarding Applications.

  1. Ads Keywords

Each Ad Group has its own Ads Keywords. Usually each ad has no more than 20 keywords that are more specific and long.

5. SEM Ad Copywriting

Now the keywords have been determined and arranged with the SEM structure. The next step is to display your ad using search engine marketing (SEM) ad copywriting. Copywriting is a way to attract an audience by making the right writing.

The following is part of Search Engine Marketing ad copywriting:

  • Headline: website title or ad 
  • Website URL: advertised website address
  • Description: ad description or website 
  • Site Extension: displays other websites that are still related to the ad.
  • Callout Extension: a button that clicks to reveal extra site-wide deals. For instance, a guarantee, no-risk ordering, and expedited shipping options.
  • Location Extension: displays a Google Maps link from the office location or place of business.
  • Call Extension: displays business or office contacts 

6. SEM Ad Bidding

System Search Engine Marketing bidding system is a system used by Google Ads to determine the time and position of ad serving in search results. 

Your ad’s position in search results depends on competition from other brands that use the same keywords as you. Specifically, this competition is determinedby three factors, namely:

  • MAX CPC Bid: the maximum amount you pay when someone clicks on your ad.
  • Quality Score: the rating the platform gives to your ad. This score depends on three factors, namely CTR, keywords that are relevant to Ad Groups, landing pages that match the keywords, and track record of ad performance.
  • Ad Rank: what grade your ad gets from the service. Find out where on the search results page your ad will appear. Your ad’s placement will improve as the rating rises.

How to get a good Ad Rank? The following is the formula:

Maximum Ad Rank = Quality Score multiplied by CPC 

With a high Quality Score, you can beat competitors who pay a higher Max CPC Bid. In other words, a high Quality Score allows you to get a good position in search results at a minimal cost. 

Search Engine Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to Placing Ads on Google

After getting acquainted with SEM earlier, of course you know that placing online advertisements should not be careless. So, your task does not stop at just making the ad. You need to optimize your SEM campaign to reach a larger audience, maximize your budget and drive more conversions.

Here’s how to make your SEM campaign more optimal:

1. Do Keyword Research 

In the previous discussion, you already understand the various types of keywords that can be used for campaigns. So, to find the right keywords, you need to do keyword research.

The following are things you need to pay attention to when conducting keyword research:

Research keywords used to search for your product

To find keywords your audience uses to search for your product, you need  keyword tools to do the research. If you’re looking for a tool, you can check out Google’s Keyword Planner.

After entering Google Keyword Planner, enter keywords related to the topic on your website. Here’s an example: we plugged in “cheap domains” to find domain name services. Then select the Get Results button.

Google Keyword Planner includes the following details in its search results for a given keyword:

  • Average Monthly Search: the average keyword search every month
  • Competition: the level of difficulty to win that keyword
  • Top of page bid (low range): lowest price submitted by advertisers
  • Top of page bid (high range): the highest price submitted by advertisers
  • Broaden your search: related keyword suggestions based on your initial input

Tips, choose keywords that have a high Average Monthly Salary and a moderate or low level of competition. This means that these keywords are sought after by the audience but are rarely used by competitors.

To increase sales, you should seek out keywords that can lead to them

You can also conduct research for product-buying keywords used by your target audience. How do I find the most potential buying keywords in Google Keyword Planner? 

Add Filter > Keyword > Contain will do the trick. To achieve this, it’s necessary to use terms other than keywords.

In this tutorial we try to add “how to” and “buy” filters. After that, keywords that have the potential to increase conversions will appear:

After that, choose keywords that have a high Average Monthly Salary and a moderate or low level of competition. 

In addition, choose keywords that have a Top of page bid (low range) with high bid numbers. The higher the bid, the more potential that keyword will bring in buying traffic. 

Choose keywords with effective Cost Per Click (CPC) 

You have selected useful keywords that will attract potential customers. Following that, calculate the ROI of each campaign. Select keywords with a cost-per-click that yields a satisfactory return on investment. 

2. Write Product Uniqueness in the SEM Ad Description

Without compelling advertisements, even using the best keywords will be in vain. Accordingly, you should highlight the product’s unique features in the SEM ad copy.. 

Consider the round-the-clock availability of a certain online travel agency. So, write that in the SEM ad copywriting description section.

For example, the website of the airline JetBlue writes about additional facilities on their planes. For starters, there’s always free Wi-Fi, an endless supply of snacks, and a slew of trophies.

3. Write Special Offers in the SEM Ad Description

Do you have special discounts or special offers such as free shipping? Don’t forget to write it in the description of your SEM ad. 

For example, the GAP clothing brand website writes a 40% discount, free shipping and free product returns in Ad Copy. The offer is placed directly below the website link to make it more visible to potential customers.

4. Enter Selected Keywords in the SEM Ad Description

The success of your ad campaign in search engines hinges on the choice of keywords. Therefore, the description of your SEM ads must include at least one keyword. Your brand should be easily discoverable by consumers.

If you’re trying to sell soccer shoes, you could simply use the term “soccer shoes” in your SEM ad copy. The keyword will be highlighted in bold within the SEM ad when a potential client searches for it.

5. Adjust SEM Ad Copywriting with Landing Pages

Make sure SEM ad copywriting matches the landing page. Because this will affect customer trust in your product and brand.

If you offer a discount in your SEM ad description, display that discount on your landing page as well. Vice versa.

For example, Soccer.com displays a $4.99 shipping fee promo for purchases over $99.Customers who click on their ad will be taken to a landing page that provides the same discount details.

6. Maximizing Campaigns with Re-Keyword Research

You can also maximize SEM campaigns that are already running. How to? 

You should begin by conducting new keyword research. The point is to identify useful but underutilized keywords. Use them in your search engine marketing afterward.

Keep an eye on how well your targeted keywords are doing. Find keywords that are bringing in inaccurate audience traffic or generating low clicks.

7. Using A/B Testing

One of the advantages of using Search Engine Marketing is that the results are visible quickly. Therefore, use two different strategies. This method is called A/B Testing. 

A/B testing can be a way to determine which ads are most effective at reaching advertising targets. 

Testing this ad can be done one by one, starting from a combination of selected keywords, SEM ad copywriting, bids, to ad landing pages. Or, it can also be done at once to cover the entire ad.

Two sample registration form layouts are available on the Hubspot website, for instance. While version A lacks any visuals, version B features a photo of a happy woman.

The two versions were then tested. As a result, version A saw a 24%. The reason is, the registration form is clean of images so that the audience’s attention is immediately focused on the form. 

Let’s Use Search Engine Marketing for Your Campaign!

Okay, so you’ve learned what Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is. Paid advertising on search engines, or “Search Engine Marketing,” is one way to raise a website’s rankings.

SEM does cost money, unlike SEO strategies that don’t cost anything. The benefits of SEM, however, are more quickly apparent. From higher rankings in search engines to more visitors and sales, there are many benefits to optimizing your website.

Those interested in implementing an SEM strategy should familiarize themselves with the fundamentals first. We’ve covered that and how to improve your SEM campaign here. This should be simple, right?

That being said, you will need more than just an SEM strategy to boost online sales. As a result, your website requires multiple approaches.

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