Online advertising is big business. Billions of dollars are spent each year trying to reach the top of Google using search engine marketing tools. Businesses continuously search for ways to remain relevant and exciting to potential customers, and what better way than to pop up at the top of their searches. Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is a booming industry and is incidentally Google’s main revenue stream.

We’ve collected a quick how-to guide for any business that is considering taking on SEM as an online advertising method.

Firstly, what is Search Engine Marketing?

According to Wikipedia, SEM is “a form of internet marketing”. Through an online promotion, a business can place an advertisement through search engines, primarily paid advertising. A business will choose keywords that customers will use to search for specific services or products. This enables a business to pop up at the top of the search results, often with a clearly listed paid icon next to it. SEM has become an incredibly popular way of advertising, overtaking the growth of traditional marketing methods.

What is the difference between SEM and SEO?

Both SEM and SEO seem like interchangeable terms. They both take place within a search engine realm, however they have different purposes based on what a business is trying to achieve. Search engine optimisation is often referred to as achieving organic traffic. Search engine marketing takes into account SEO and utilises it as a component. While both strategies can be adopted, you need to consider what strategy suits your specific goal.

Where to start?

The foundation of SEM is keywords. With the right keywords, you are able to align your business with user searches. However, this may take some strategic planning, as obtaining the best results for certain keywords can quickly become competitive.

With a website or product in mind to advertise online, you need to set up a Google Adwords account to get going. Here, you’ll be able to specify your keywords, see the potential reach they have and how many other companies are eyeing the same keywords as you are. Google Adwords also has an interactive keyword search planner to assist you with the process.

It might be confusing at the start, however with a Google Adwords account, you’ll have many great tutorials to take you through it and provide you with assistance as needed.