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Search Engine Marketing

Search engines are the most widely used avenue by consumers to find what they are looking for on the web. Web marketers have realised this and are increasingly utilising search engine marketing (SEM) to build their company’s brand, ensure their company can be found online and to generate sales leads. There are various techniques available to increase your business’s ranking within a search engine's results page (SERP).

What is SEM?

Search engine marketing is defined as the entire process of getting listed on search engines so that consumers can find your business. It seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility on a Search engine results page (SERP).

SEM comprises two basic techniques

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) refers to the process of designing and optimising a site and its content in a way that search engines will find the website without being paid to do so. It’s the free aspect of SEM and is often referred to as organic search or natural search. SEO is explained in detail in a previous blog of ours which can be accessed by clicking here.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) involves text ads targeted to keyword search results on search engines, through programs such as Google AdWords. It is sometimes referred to as PPC advertising, Cost-per-Click (CPC) advertising and paid search.


  Advantages  Disadvantages 

Qualified responses as the click-throughs are organic

Results are not immediate 


Higher return traffic 

Difficult to predict ranking 


Lower cost 

Initial time investment 


Long term marketing solution 



Brand recognition and loyalty 



Immediate results 

Easy to lose ranking or spot 


Daily budget can be limited 

Daily budget can be expensive depending on keywords 


Search volume guaranteed 

Unqualified clicks 


Easy to change focus 



Unlimited keywords to choose from 



Ability to test (keywords, landing pages)


Which technique should my business use?

SEO and PPC are different in nature but your business will benefit immensely from using the techniques in conjunction with each other.

It can be useful to implement a paid search campaign prior, post or during the development of an organic search campaign and vice versa. Each campaign can be used to determine keywords for the other campaign. Selecting which campaign to use will depend on the knowledge your business has on the keywords that visitors will use to search for your company and your current SERP ranking.

For example, it is smart to use PPC when your site is not ranking as highly as you had hoped in order to improve its visibility in a short period of time.

Search engines

Search engines come in all shapes and sizes. There are the well-known search engine giants, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask and AOL. Then there are the smaller, more niche and alternative search engines such as Duck Duck Go (which allows you to search anonymously, allowing the protection of your data), Wolfram Alpha (Answers your questions), Can IStream .it? (provides links for streaming content) and IMDb (a comprehensive movie database).

There are too many search engines available for marketers to direct their SEM efforts towards all of them. Therefore the most popular search engines, or the most appropriate search engines relative to the products or services the business provides, should be selected as the focal point of the marketer's SEM efforts.

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