Search Marketing


Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is a type of online marketing where the goal is to increase a website’s visibility in the results of search engine queries, thus promoting it. This is achieved through either advertising or optimization. SEM is growing in popularity as an alternative marketing technique to traditional advertising, and this increase in popularity has given rise to agencies that specifically offer search marketing services.


When optimizing a website using SEM, there several methods used for websites that are indexed by search engines. One of the first things to optimize are keywords. This technique involves identifying keywords that are significant to a company’s products and its website, and applying these keywords to the site to create traffic through search engines. A second technique is to optimize a website’s popularity and saturation. Websites’ visibility in search engine results is influenced by saturation; the amount of pages a website contains that are indexed by search engines; as well as popularity, the number of incoming links said site has. By including keywords that are highly popular in search engine queries, a website can increase it’s popularity and saturation. Next, a website should utilize ‘back end tools’, utilities such as HTML validators and web analytic tools that measure the success of a website and its performance. Finally, utilizing ‘whois tools’ allows one to ascertain a website’s owners, which can help in identifying potential issues related trademarks and copyrights.

Paid Inclusion

Paid inclusion, or sponsored listings as it is also known, is when a search engine offers to include a website in result pages for a fee. Most search engines offer such services, Google being the predominant example. The fee for paid inclusion can operate according to different models. The most common fee type is an annual subscription, where the fee entitles one website to regular cataloguing in search results for one year. Some search engines offer paid inclusion on a non-subscription basis, where the fee entitles a website to be listed permanently. In both of the aforementioned scenarios a “per-click” fee might also be applied, where a small fee in charged every time a user clicks on the paid listing. How individual search engines display paid inclusions can also vary. Yahoo!, for example, mixes its paid inclusions in with standard results. Meanwhile, Google lists paid inclusions separately form unpaid results, labelling them specifically as advertisements. Paid inclusion can be a very useful to companies looking to promote their website, however the practice is met with some scrutiny. Critics of paid inclusion suggest that it causes search engine results not to be less based on relevancy, and more on the economic establishment.

SEM Versus SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to increasing a website’s visibility uniquely in “organic” un-paid search results. SEM is therefore a grander form of marketing that includes both SEO and promotion through advertising and paid search results as discussed above. Both SEO and SEM require constant monitoring and revising to better promote a website, and both involve performing keywords analysis. SEM also includes SMM, social media marketing. This type of marketing refers to utilizing social media to promote a company’s products and/or services. Additionally, SEM can include search retargeting, where the goal is to target audiences based on their previous searches, often in the form of targeted banner ads. The term SEM may at times be used to refer solely to pay-per-click advertising outside of the search marketing community. This is true generally in the communities of commercial advertising and marketing, where it is argued perpetuating a tapered definition is a vested interest.