What are SEM Search Engine Marketing and its operations?

What are SEM Search Engine Marketing and its operations?

What is SEM? The SEM represents the initials of Search Engine Marketing, or it can also be called search engine marketing.

SEM is normally used to designate paid search engine ad campaigns, although the truth is that its definition could encompass all those marketing actions that take place within a search engine, whether or not they are paid.


SEM: What is search engine marketing

SEM or search engine marketing creates problems when it comes to defining exactly what it is, as there are differences between the “real” meaning of the term and the way most people use it.

In general, we call SEM the set of tools, techniques, and strategies that help us optimize the visibility of websites and web pages through search engine engines. In short, what we are looking for is to appear more and better positioned among the search results of Google and other similar sites when a user searches for keywords related to our brand.

Generally, the search pages of Google and other sites show two types of results:

  • Organic or natural results (usually displayed in the center of the page). To know which ones to show, the search engine uses an algorithm that tells it which are the websites that can best respond to a given query. For example, Google’s algorithm is based primarily on relevance (web content) and authority (links from other pages). The set of techniques and tools used to position organically in the listings is known as SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
  • Payment results. They are usually displayed at the top and in a column to the right. Unlike organic listings, here the advertiser must pay an amount for each click they get. To get traffic by buying search engine ads, you’ll need to turn to search engine advertising solutions like Google Ads. This system is also called PPC (pay per click) or CPC (cost per click).

Search Engine Marketing encompasses both SEO techniques and search engine advertising. However, in practice, most marketers use SEM to refer exclusively to search engine advertising, that is, to paid results. To avoid confusion, we will use SEM as a synonym for “search engine advertising” in this case.

How can we help you with your SEM?

Today SEM is necessary for companies. However, it is much more powerful if used in combination with other tools such as SEO. Of course: the study of keywords will be the fundamental pillar for our actions in search engines to be successful. The study of our Buyer Persona will also be essential to understand the intentionality of our audience when searching for certain keywords and, therefore, will allow us a more accurate segmentation.

These are the concepts that you should not lose sight of:

  • SEM and SEO . A combined strategy will help you achieve your goals. With SEM in the short term and with SEO in the medium-long term. In addition, with an intelligent study of keywords, you will be able to impact both strategies at the same time.
  • SEM positioning . When you launch your campaigns on Google Ads or on other search engines, you should keep in mind that your ads compete in a constant bid to appear. You will have to constantly optimize your campaigns and ads, in order to appear in Google’s advertising spaces.
  • SEM campaign . Optimize your campaigns constantly, because many times it is not about who is offering the most money in the bid, but about who knows how to create the campaign that most interests the audience. With a good SEM campaign you can achieve your goals in a short time and reach new audiences.
  • Search Engine Marketing . The full name of the SEM abbreviation. It is all that marketing applied and focused on search engines. Learn how to carry out the best campaigns on Google and others like Bing. Otherwise, put yourself in the hands of people who can advise you.
  • SEMMarketing . Learn what is the best way to apply search engine marketing and the expert tricks that will favor your SEM campaigns.
  • SEM on Google . What are the best techniques today to set up campaigns on Google’s advertising platform, called Google Ads.

At Cyberclick we believe that a good SEM strategy is based on an in-depth analysis of the user’s needs, a good study of keywords, and the creation of intelligent campaigns, grouping keywords by families and associated with short but catchy ads.

What can you achieve with SEM

There are many reasons to incorporate SEM into your internet marketing strategies. These are just some of the benefits that Search Engine Marketing can bring to your brand:

  • Get highly qualified traffic to your page . One of the foundations of any digital marketing strategy is attracting the right users to your landing pages. Search engine marketing is very effective at attracting users’ attention and generating clicks, and by allowing users to be filtered based on the words they’re searching for, it ensures that this traffic will be made up of people potentially interested in your business. brand.
  • Make your brand or company known throughout the world . Placing yourself at the top of Google is a fantastic way to gain visibility for your brand. Even if the user does not click the first time, seeing your page in the first place will associate it with the need it is seeking to solve.
  • Generate conversions . Google Ads offers all kinds of facilities to be able to measure conversions and thus ensure that your ads are really effective.
  • Go far on a tight budget. Search engine advertising solutions combine a great potential reach with the possibility of adjusting the budget to your needs at any time. You do not need a large initial investment, so it is suitable for small and medium-sized companies. And if your brand is growing, the sky is the limit!
  • Finally, with Search Engine Marketing solutions such as Google Ads, you can not only place advertising in the search engine itself, but also take advantage of the data and parameters that you have to place contextual advertising on other websites. The possibilities of personalization are very high: users who have already visited your website, interested in X type of products, from a certain city, etc. Combined with your search engine advertising campaigns, they can be a very powerful tool to grow your brand.

Advantages (and disadvantages) of SEM

Without a doubt, search engine marketing is a powerful and suitable tool for almost all types of brands. So that you can better assess when and how to include it, I will tell you about its main advantages and disadvantages.Video player – sem-google-ads – Click to play video


  1. Highly measurable . Tools like Google Ads provide you with highly detailed reports on the evolution of your campaign, so that you can always know what is happening with your ads. In addition, you can take advantage of the integration with Analytics to have everything perfectly controlled.
  2. Real time monitoring. The analytics interface allows you to see what’s happening at any given moment and correct course on the spot if you’re not getting the results you’re looking for.
  3. Pay per click . In this way, you will only pay if you get results. You can control at all times the maximum daily budget that you are willing to spend, as well as the maximum cost per click that you can pay. In this way, you make sure that the campaign is profitable in all cases.
  4. Speed . Compared to other techniques such as SEO or content marketing, search engine advertising allows you to achieve results relatively quickly and on a large scale.
  5. Within everyone’s reach. Since the budget investment is scalable, this solution works for both large companies and SMEs. All of them compete on equal terms in the “fight” to reach the top positions for keywords.
  6. Segmentation . Finally, another strong point of this tool is its great segmentation possibilities. By being keyword-oriented, we will reach the public that is actively interested in us. And in addition, we can filter it by other factors such as location, language or behavior.


  1. Higher long-term cost. Speaking clearly: SEM only works while you pay. Although over time you can manage to optimize your campaigns and reduce costs per click, you will still have to pay for each visit you get.
  2. High level of competition . Search Engine Marketing has become popular and there are many companies that compete to position themselves in the same keywords. This competition makes costs go up and sometimes it can be difficult to get a good ROI.
  3. It is interruptive. Unlike other solutions such as native advertising, SEM involves “invading” the user’s space with content that they have not previously requested. In fact, if the user you are targeting uses an ad blocker, they may not see your ads.

Basic concepts to create your SEM strategy

Now, let’s go over the basics you need to navigate the world of search engine advertising. Given that Google concentrates the vast majority of searches in our country, we are going to base ourselves on the terms used in Google Ads.

  • Keyword or keyword: keywords are “the mother of the lamb”, the basis on which all search engine marketing is based. Simply put, they are the words, groups of words, or phrases that will cause your ad to appear to users.
  • Text Ad: The standard type of ad that is displayed on search engines. They usually have a title, two lines of text, and a customizable link.
  • Ad group: Ad groups are sets of ads and keywords. In turn, these are grouped into campaigns, in which you can define the daily budget and the countries or territories where the ads will appear.
  • Search Network: The part of the search engine where your ads can appear. It’s easiest to work with text ads at the top and right of the results page, but you can also show ads on other sites like Google Shopping or Google Maps.
  • Impressions: number of times an ad has been shown.
  • Clicks: Number of times an ad has been clicked.
  • CTR: percentage of impressions that generate a click.
  • CPC: average cost per click. We can define a maximum CPC to guarantee that we do not go over budget.
  • Quality Score: Score (determined by Google) of a keyword and an ad to determine its CPC. In theory, the higher the quality of an ad, the less you will pay per click.

Start with your SEM campaigns and start testing the good results it can give you. If you are looking to get new clients for your products or services, we have a lot to offer you and we want to be part of your work team. The expert partner that will help you attract potential clients, optimize your campaigns to the maximum and obtain the best ROI.

How to do a keyword study in SEM

When we plan an SEM campaign, the study of keywords or keywords should always be one of the first steps. We can say that the keywords are like the “bricks” from which the entire SEM account, the ads and even the landing pages are structured.

To conduct a keyword study for SEM campaigns, take note of the following steps.

Analysis of the product or service (and if it is already created, of the landing page)

The keywords must always be relevant to the product or service that we are offering. Therefore, the first step is to develop a list of between two and ten main ideas that summarize the services or products that we offer. In addition to studying our own offer, we can also take a look at the pages of the competition.

Using keyword tools

There are many keyword planning platforms on the market, such as SemRush or Google Keyword Tool. If we introduce the basic ideas that we have defined in the previous section, the tool will provide us with a list of related keywords. To filter the results, you can segment by location and by language.

The good thing about these tools is that they work like a real “brainstorm” and can give you a lot of suggestions that you would never have thought of. Of course, many times they offer suggestions that are not very related to the original search. And this brings us to the next step…

Filtering and selection

Using the list of keywords provided by the tool as a base, we will have to carry out manual filtering to discard the words that are not very relevant, group the related keywords, and select those that have the highest number of searches and the least competition (that is, that there are not many advertisers bidding on the same word).

And ready! You now have the definitive list of keywords to optimize your SEM campaign. To get the best results, these keywords should be present both on your landing pages and in your ads.

How to develop an SEM campaign step by step

Strategy and planning are essential to guarantee the result of your SEM campaign. Let’s see the key steps to launch a successful campaign.

keyword research

Keywords are the basic foundation on which the entire SEM account is built. To carry out a complete study, we must pay attention to aspects such as:

  • The products and services we offer.
  • Analysis of our positioning and that of the competition.
  • Definition of the buyer person.
  • Search for generic keywords and “long tail” using specialized tools.
  • Keyword list cleaning and sorting.

Campaign creation

The time has come to define the different aspects of our SEM account and put everything in motion. These are some of the key aspects that we will have to define to launch a campaign in Google Ads or other similar solutions:

  • Budget and maximum bids.
  • Ad groups. Unless we are selling a single very specific product or service, we will have different groups of related keywords. The idea is to structure the keywords through highly focused ad groups, to achieve maximum relevance.
  • Design, writing and optimization of landing pages. Ideally, we should have a landing page for each product or service and for each target.
  • Ad creation. When setting up your campaign, it’s a good idea to run different creatives so you can compare results with each other.

Measurement and optimization

The work does not end after launching the campaign, since the SEM is based on continuous optimization. Therefore, we must regularly monitor the results of the account so that we can vary the keywords, creatives, and other aspects of the campaigns in order to improve performance.

So that you don’t miss anything, you can configure alerts on critical aspects of the account and set a calendar to make periodic reviews.

Extra bonus: take advantage of SEM to do SEO

SEM and SEO are two closely related disciplines since both seek to position themselves in Google. Therefore, you can take advantage of the effort invested in SEM to improve your organic positioning.

Keyword research will have helped you detect keywords that can help you position your page organically, although they may not offer quick conversion results: it is a good opportunity to create related content. And in the same way, the first results of your SEM will help you to know which topics are more interesting for users and therefore can help you get more traffic and visits.

Best known search engines where to do SEM

When we think of search engines, the first thing that usually comes to mind is Google. But the truth is that there are other SEM platforms that can also give us good results. These are the three main solutions to advertise on search engines.

Google ads

Google Ads is the main SEM platform in Spain since this search engine accounts for the majority of searches. Here are some basic concepts to use this tool correctly:

  • Keywords : a keyword or keyword is a set of terms entered by a user in a search engine. It can be a single word, several words or even an entire phrase, for example “buy dumbbells to do sports at home”. Keywords allow Google to know which ads are relevant to a particular user at a particular time.
  • Match Types – Match types determine how closely the term entered by the user in the search engine should match our keyword. In Google Ads, from broadest to strictest, we have broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, and exact match. We can also set negative matches (searches for which we do NOT want our ads to show).
  • Ads : Advertising displayed in the Google search engine is primarily based on text ads consisting of a title, display URL, description, and extensions.
  • CPC (Cost Per Click) – The price we pay for each click on our ads, which in turn depends on the Quality Score and bids we set.

Microsoft Advertising or Bing Ads

Bing Ads (or Microsoft Advertising) is a very strong alternative to Google Ads as it reaches a relevant potential audience (nearly 10% of market share) and has very good targeting and configuration options.

In general, it is a very similar tool to Google Ads, but there are some differences that you should know:

  • Negative keyword matching is stricter (we can only match negative keywords with phrase match).
  • Bing sets a minimum amount for maximum bids.
  • Bing’s location options allow you to specify a radius within a city or zip code.
  • You can schedule your ads to show in 15-minute increments throughout the day, or to show only when the store is open.
  • Bing has image and stock specific extensions.
  • You can set different time zones within the same campaign.
  • It allows you to filter the reports based on the search partner and discard the ones that do not interest you.


Yahoo Advertising or Yahoo Ads is Yahoo’s advertising solution, which allows you to reach users who use this search engine through different formats:

  • Search Ads. The most classic format of SEM, which shows ads in the search engine when users enter a specific keyword.
  • Display ads (Display Ads). These ads are placed at the top, bottom or side of a website or in the middle of content and can be used for remarketing.
  • Sponsored Ads in different formats: image, carousel and native video ads.
  • Email advertisements (Mail Ads), both integrated within the inbox and through banners.

Local SEM campaigns

Local SEM campaigns allow advertisers who have physical stores to reach users who are in a location near them.

In Google Ads, the first step to being able to do local SEM is to configure the business listing in Google My Business.

To sign up for Google My Business, simply sign up using a Gmail address and create the listing from scratch (or claim an existing listing as your own). Google will ask you to verify business ownership via mail, phone, email, or Google Search Console.

Once your business is registered with Google My Business, you will be able to create local ads in Google Ads. These ads show your business to people who are close to it or who have shown an interest in the area. Their goal is to increase visits to physical stores and achieve offline conversions.

Google local ads can be shown in different locations:

  • In Google search results: When users do a search related to the business and its location.
  • On Google Maps: through sponsored pins.
  • On YouTube: Local ads will show on YouTube when users are most likely to click on them.
  • On third-party sites (through display campaigns).

In addition to creating a local campaign from start to finish, having a business registered with Google My Business also makes it possible to add location extensions to standard Google Ads ads.

PPC for beginners

SEM generally uses the pay-per-click or PPC advertising modality, which consists of the user paying an amount (fixed or determined by auction) each time the user clicks on one of your ads to visit your website.

For advertisers, this model has many advantages, since it allows you to pay only for the visits received, provides a lot of information about the performance of the ad, allows you to control the budget, and offers good optimization possibilities.

Here are some PPC basics for beginners:

  • Impression : We call each view an ad receives an impression, whether you click on it or not. Typically, there are some requirements for an impression to be valid, such as the percentage of the ad shown or the number of seconds the ad remains viewable.
  • CTR : the CTR or click ratio is the percentage of clicks that an ad receives with respect to the number of impressions.
  • CPC : the CPC or cost per click is the price paid by the advertiser for each click on the ad, that is, for each visit to its web page.
  • Landing page or landing page : we call landing page or landing page to the page within the website of the advertiser to which the user arrives after clicking on an ad. For best results, this page should be optimized for conversions.

Most important SEM metrics

As with any other digital marketing discipline, in SEM we can only optimize what we measure. Therefore, before launching our strategy, we have to know what KPIs we are going to follow to evaluate the performance of the campaigns.

Here are four key metrics to measure the success of your SEM campaigns.

Quality Score

Quality Score measures the user’s experience with ads, that is, the higher the Quality Score, the better the user experience. This metric is essential because Google Ads uses it to determine the cost and placement of your ads: the higher your Quality Score, the easier it is for you.

The level of quality depends on three factors:

  • The quality of the landing page.
  • The quality of the ad.
  • The expected click-through rate.

Impression share

Impression share helps us know if users are seeing our ads. It is calculated based on the impressions obtained by an ad compared to the total number that they could obtain.

A low impression share indicates that we are not getting the most out of the ad. To remedy this, we need to raise the budget and bids, improve the quality score, or both.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

The Click-through rate indicates how often users who see an ad end up clicking on it. To calculate it, we divide the number of clicks by the number of impressions. For example, if you have 5 clicks and 100 impressions, the CTR would be 5%.

We can query this metric for the different ads and keywords in our account. A low CTR indicates that the ad is not attractive enough to the user or that it is not really relevant to their search.


The number of conversions and the average value of each conversion allows us to measure the performance of our ads since it indicates how many sales we have achieved thanks to them. In this way, we will be able to correctly attribute the ROI of our SEM campaigns and measure their profitability.

SEM Agency

SEM tools, like Google Ads, are very complex. It is necessary to manage a lot of variables and be aware of the results in real-time to be able to optimize the account continuously. For this reason, it is often worthwhile to delegate this work to an SEM agency, which can carry out tasks such as:

  • Design of SEM campaigns : definition of objectives and budget and creation of the structure of campaigns, keywords and ad groups.
  • Keyword planning and optimization – Selecting the right keywords and accurate match levels is critical to your SEM results. The agency will be in charge of carrying out both the initial keyword research and the continuous monitoring of the results.
  • Ad creation : With SEM ads we have very little space to attract a potential client, so it is essential to take full advantage of the creativity to squeeze the most of the resources.
  • Campaign monitoring : the agency will carry out a continuous analysis of the data to be able to make decisions in real time and thus achieve the best results.
  • Quality level optimization : this parameter is one of the most important in SEM, since it allows you to maximize results and minimize costs at the same time.
  • Management of bids and CPC : through a continuous analysis of the CPC and the position of the ads, the aim is to optimize the bids to the maximum in order to obtain the highest number of quality clicks at the best cost.
  • Conversion rate optimization : By analyzing and adjusting different aspects of the account, from keywords to landing page design, the ultimate goal is to get more conversions and increase the profitability of the account.

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