03 August 2021

Search Engine Marketing (SEM): What Is It & How It Works?

With the evolution of the global marketplace and the rise of digital marketing, a common question among advertisers and marketers is what is 'Search Engine Marketing' (SEM).

SEM may imply a variety of things depending on who you ask. Some of them refer to it as paid advertising campaigns such as Google Ads, while others use the term for all marketing activities that take place within a search engine. Both of them depend on the use of a person.

With so much confusion, it is tough for a layman to understand this pseudo rocket science. Hence this blog! Here we have listed out all the information that you need to know about SEM.

What is SEM?

SEM is described as a set of tools, tactics, and strategies that optimise the visibility of websites and web pages via search engines. In a nutshell, SEM aims to improve search engine rankings on Google and other comparable sites.

Generally, search engine websites target two sorts of traffic:

Organic Traffic: In web search engines, organic search results are nothing but queries that are calculated solely based on algorithms and not influenced by advertiser payments. Google's algorithm prioritises relevancy and authority. So, to get a higher ranking organically, the marketers use a specific set of tools and techniques known as Search Engine Optimisation(SEO).

Paid Traffic: Unlike organic traffic, the marketers pay for each click on their website. It would be best to use search engines advertising solutions, such as Google Ads and Bing Ads. Also known as Pay-Per-Click, this process is used to gain visitors by paid marketing in search engines.

Earlier, SEM consisted of both paid and organic strategies and was considered a part of SEO. However, marketers are increasingly using the term "Search Engine Marketing" to refer to sponsored advertising alone, separating SEM and SEO.

Functioning of SEM:

  • You must have observed the first three results for any query on search engines with “ad” or “sponsored” labels next to them. When compared to organic results, it helps sponsored advertising acquire greater attention.
  • SEM looks more sophisticated from the standpoint of marketers. Businesses utilise a variety of networks for marketers to choose from and create the campaign on their own.
  • To get started with the campaign, you must first select keywords connected to your promotion that users use to get the information they require. For example, if you're selling mobile phones, your keywords will include 'mobile phones', 'cell phones' or 'mobile phones online.' You can target your audience more accurately by using specialised or long-tail keywords like ‘affordable mobile phones', ‘ buying latest smartphones' and more. Another option for increasing the effectiveness of your campaign is to leverage other factors, such as the user's location, age, gender, the device they use.
  • The next activity after finalising the campaign is an Ad Auction. Here, SEM platforms determine when and where your advertisements will appear, considering the competition from other businesses chasing the exact keywords. Your position on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is determined by the highest sum you are willing to spend for a click and your platform rating.


SEM is far more effective when used with other methods such as SEO and Buyer Persona research, both of which are essential for understanding our audience when searching for specific keywords since it allows for more precise categorisation.

So, to summarise SEM is a must in this modern digital world which requires expert supervision, and hiring a Search Engine Marketing agency seems the right foot forward. We at Think First Digital, are one of the top-rated Search Engine Marketing agencies in Mumbai. Our dedicated team of professionals can help you enhance your SEM strategy with email and text marketing, online push alerts, chatbots, and other techniques. Contact us for any assistance regarding Search Engine Marketing.