What is SEM, PPC and Paid Search?


In a search engine optimization process, you need your website to become popular with the available or common search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing among others. In order to achieve this objective, you need to create a site that is search engine friendly; one that will blend seamlessly any search engine and improve or increase the level of traffic to your site. To improve a website’s visibility in Search Engines Results Pages (SERPs), a viral internet marketing campaign is compulsory and this is where SEM comes in handy.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the process of popularizing your website traffic by buying ads on search engines. SEM synchronizes with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to recreate website content and overall website design to achieve a higher ranking in SERPs in an effort to boost Pay Per Click (PPC) rankings.

PPC as a subset of SEM, is an internet awareness model that channels traffic to a specific website depending on the value and attention capability of the website’s ads on search engines. The advertising party, which can be a website’s owner, freelance blogger or any internet promoter, pays the website owner through which his ads are displayed, some money every time those ads are clicked. SEM, PPC as well as paid search are all internet marketing tactics that improves traffic and expands the business online customer base as well as internet dominance.

search-engine-marketingSearch Engine Marketing

As already stated above, Search Engine marketing involves creating website popularity. It involves gathering information related to a website and positioning it within search engines’ proximity and visibility in an effort to increase your portion of either organic search or paid traffic referrals.

However in this case, it is to increase your paid traffic referrals or visits. It is good to be popular with search engines in SEO process but wouldn’t it be even better to earn some money from that advantage? Search engine marketing is a generally broad term that includes cost-per-impression, pay-per-click and other paid search methods such as paid search ads, paid search advertising and pay-per-click.

Cost Per Impression (CPI)

Also called Cost per a thousand impressions (CPM) with a slight difference, is a traditional marketing strategy that involves advertisement over the internet through such methods as email ads and web ads. CPI is different from CPM in that in the latter the cost is incurred for every a thousand customers where as in the former the expense applies to each single customer. CPI majorly analyzes the effectiveness of online marketing methods.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay Per Click (PPC)Simply put, pay-per-click is a paid search technique that aims to ‘buy’ visitors to a specific website rather than get those visitors through organic search in search engines that employs pure content relevance and authority to gain customer attention. It is also referred to as cost-per-click in other terms. In this case the advertising party pays a fee every click on his ads by visitors on other sites.

PPC allows an interested advertiser to bid for a vacant ad position on a search engine proposed platform or link so that in case someone searches for a keyword that either directly or indirectly relates to the advertisers line of services or business. Generally, the link will lead the target visitors to their sites.

Every time the advertiser’s ad is clicked on by a potential visitor and the link successfully leads the visitor to the advertiser’s web site, the advertising party pays a small amount of money to the search engine in question. If the link is working correctly, this fee is very trivial and no cause for worry for the advertiser. For instance, if you pay the search engine £2 for every click and in a day you get £250 from the click, a profit of £248 will have been realized. Will you really complain?

PPC Keyword revision

Keyword research for PPC is very helpful since the success of internet marketing is based on a carefully crafted portfolio of keywords. This portfolio of keywords does not end at the creation only but you have to refine and revise the list often. By so doing, you will be able to take advantage of the lengthy keywords that are highly pertinent and low cost with the capability of traffic attraction. A balanced PPC keyword list that blends all the above characteristics should be:

  • Extensive– the list should be comprised of both long tail and short tail keywords and not short tail keywords only. Long tail keywords are not very common thus can be less costly in addition to the fact that they increase traffic volume as well.
  • Wide- the list should be expansive and able to grow in an iterative sequence as time passes by.
  • Pertinent- Perhaps this is the most important quality the list should portray. One would only pay for ads that are related to his business and not for someone’s website or business. Relevance is mandatory.

PPC optimization

Constant analysis of your pay-per-click marketing campaigns is the key to a successful internet dominance. You need to make regular reviews of your PPC campaign portfolio and make the necessary structural adjustments. These changes may include but not limited to the following:

  • Change the content of your landing pages to synchronize with specific search patterns for a faster and efficient conversion rate.
  • Try to avoid directing most if not all your visitors to one page in your website.
  • You could also marry this technique with that of categorizing ad groups into smaller and landing page specific groups that are more defined.

It is also important to do a review of your costly list of PPC keywords. If they are costly but productive, revise and retain them but if not then delete them completely. In their place, you could add a fresh list of more PPC keywords that are cost savvy and relevant to your business.

How do SEM and SEO compare?

Search engine optimization assists in the channeling traffic to a website. This helps search engine marketing to target specific customers by using SEO organic search results to generate paid ad links that target narrowed customer niches. As a result SEM is more expensive than SEO. A successful online business is visible both in the SEO organic results and SEM linked ads.


In online marketing, visibility is the key to a successful campaign. If you want to reach your online customers, utilize the features of both SEO and SEM since the two synchronize together. They are complementary and not substitutes. For SEO visibility for instance, you could create more quality content that attracts more organic searches where as for the SEM you could revise your PPC list as explained and take full advantage of the variety of ad links that different search engines offer.