In short, search engine marketing (SEM) is that aspect of online marketing designed to get visitors to come to your website via Google. An important key figure in SEM is traffic, measured as the number of visitors your site gets over a particular time.
In addition, search engine marketing is divided into two areas: search engine advertising (SEA) and search engine optimization (SEO).
The aim of both sides of SEM is to increase the visibility (ranking) of websites in search engine results lists in order to get more visitors. The primary difference is that one has to pay for visibility with SEA, in the form of advertising ads, whereas SEO refers to everything else that can be done without paying the search engine providers. This distinction is found in the ideas of „paid traffic“ and „organic traffic.“
The advertising ads purchased with SEA appear on Google mostly on the upper right of search results pages or take up the first several links on the search results page and are either set off in gray or marked „Sponsored“ or „Advertisement.“ The most well-known advertising ad program is Google AdWords.
Below these paid ads are the organic search results, which can be influenced by SEO. Once again, a distinction is made between on-page measures, i.e. changes to your page content to optimize search engine rankings, and off-page measures that attract visitors via other channels.
The advantage of SEM lies in its ability to target potential customers with precision, because you can set who will see the ad, when they will see it, and how often it will be displayed.
Another definite advantage is the transparency, i.e. the measurability of user behavior, because analytical tools are available to determine exactly what these visitors do once they come to your site. You can then use this data to draw conclusions and further optimize your site accordingly.
A popular SEM strategy is a good mix of SEA and SEO. For example, SEA is often used to spread the name of a brand or product online. As soon as there’s a solid foundation of interest and users begin to search for the brand on their own, focusing on SEO measures can ensure that users find the brand as quickly as possible. In addition, organic search engine results are clicked more often than advertisements, which shows that users tend to trust „natural“ search engine results.