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Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a subarea of online marketing that includes all the measures to boost the visibility of a website within the search results of a search engine. The measures can be paid advertisements in the framework of commercial promotion in search engines (SEA), as well as search engine optimization (SEO).

There is not always a clear term of the terms

The term Search Engine Marketing is not always used unequivocally within marketing. Definitions can also be found in textbooks that see SEM as a generic definition for SEO and SEA, while other sources use SEM as a synonym for search engine business promotion or PPC business promotion.[1]


To separate the terms Search Engine Marketing, SEO and SEA, it is necessary to break them down into their constituent parts:

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM):

Marketing per se is not by definition a means or a method, but the attitude of a company. Marketing itself includes all the essential measures to optimally align a company with the needs of the market. In combination with search engines, marketing refers to the measures that are essential to achieve optimal reach and visibility within search engines for a business (it can be an online store or a website). Search Engine Marketing is in this respect a generic definition for commercial promotion in search engines and search engine optimization.

  • Search Engine Advertising (SEA):

This is a method that is used to achieve the maximum reach in relation to the budget used or the maximum ROI through commercial promotion paid in search engines. The commercial promotion in search engines (SEA), can be used through different channels or be part of a marketing campaign.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

Search engine optimization (SEO) is also a method of boosting the ranking of relevant keywords in search results lists. Optimizations impact not only OnPage factors, but OffPage factors as well. The essential tools for optimization can be divided into different subcategories. Despite everything, the term search engine optimization is currently criticized because it is too focused on search engines and not on the user. Thus, SEO is not only a measure to achieve better rankings in the SERPs, but also to boost the user experience. In this regard, SEO is sometimes associated with "Search Experiences Optimization."

SEM objectives
SEM can meet several objectives. As a general rule, they are similar to the usual definitions of objective in marketing. Possible objectives can be:

  • Increase in sales and, therefore, in turnover.
  • Increase brand awareness.
  • Increase in potential customers.
  • Public relations support.

Intersections with other marketing disciplines

Search engine marketing is usually not a standalone marketing discipline, but rather is built into the concepts of online marketing. Therefore, parts of SEO can be important for content marketing, storytelling, or newsletter marketing. In content marketing, for example, it is essential to syndicate content. Regardless, if important SEO rules such as finding the right keywords or a meaningful headline structure for individual campaigns are not observed, there is no chance that these texts or content items will not be found as well. At the same time, SEA measures can also reinforce other online marketing measures. For example, it is conceivable that Google AdWords could be used to promote a new website on the Internet until SEO measures take effect.

SEO and SEA properties as part of SEM


  • Technical SEO.
  • OnPage optimization: meta items, header tags, content, mobile device optimization, content optimization, server optimization.
  • OffPage optimization: link building, linkbaits, social media marketing.
  • Increased optimization costs do not necessarily lead to increased traffic and conversions.
  • The effect of SEO depends on many factors
  • Long-term and continuous work


  • Google AdWords.
  • Bing Ads.
  • Instantly increase traffic and conversions by increasing your business promotion budget.
  • Direct link between budget and visibility.
  • Possible short-term measures.

SEM as part of a marketing concept

Search engine marketing can be part of an entire marketing concept. As in this circumstance, an SEM concept must also include important preliminary considerations such as SWOT or PEST analysis. The great utility of SEM is that the control of online activities is much easier than with conventional marketing measures through the press or television. Among other things, the scope of SEA activities can be accurately tracked by customers and service providers using web analytics.

Use of search engine marketing

Without search engine marketing, today's businesses typically have little chance of succeeding on the web. Due to the growing importance of the Internet and the growing technical and professional requirements, there are more and more aspects that must be taken into account. It is irrelevant whether companies trust external service providers, such as SEM agencies, or whether they provide internal technical expertise. Simply, despite everything, the following applies: If you have current and well-founded knowledge of search engine marketing, you can always get an edge over your competitors.

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