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What is search engine marketing (SEM)?

Written by @KarlyEllis

SEM is the process of making your website visible to search engines.

Bringing consumers to your website and presenting them with content relevant to their needs.
From a business perspective it is important to tailor the links and messages to make potential customers aware of product information relevant to their current need and stage in the customer journey.

4 stages of customer journey:

  • Awareness – just browsing, not intending to buy yet and open to new ideas
  • Research – have a specific need, but not sure how to fulfil that need
  • Decision – know what they’re looking for and browsing web to find that item to find out price and see the item
  • Action – need to know where and how they can buy the product

The search process starts with a need. An individual at the awareness stage might type in ‘smart phones’. The search engine results page (SERP) shows two types of results:

  • Organic or natural search results – the equivalent of editorial in a magazine
  • Paid for or pay per click (PPC) which can be of two types:
    • Text based ads
    • Ad Extensions, which provide further information about a product or price or request for a call back

Search is an important element of digital marketing as Google (and some of the other search engines) are widely used and trusted by a vast number of people around the world. For most consumers search is at the centre of buying decisions. Websites which are on the first page of Google, particularly in the top few positions get much more traffic than those listed on subsequent pages.

Ranking highly on Google, either organically (SEO)  or advertising (PPC) is likely to influence people’s decision to make a purchase.

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