What is SEM?

What Is SEM?

SEM is a form of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising that promotes your content at the very top of search engine results pages (SERPs) like Google, Bing and others. The publisher of the ad pays a fee each time a user clicks on the paid search result.

Why SEM?

SEM and other forms of click advertising have substantial strategic value in your overall marketing strategy and marketing mix.

While awareness and use of search marketing have risen exponentially, paid search remains among the highest performing ad formats to drive online visibility, conversions and return on investment. Need more convincing? Here are some other reasons:

Better CTR

Better CTR

Click-through rates (CTR) for most forms of display advertising average less than 0.5%. Just to be overly clear: That means less than half of a single percent of all users who see your ad ever click on it.

By comparison, the average CTR for an SEM campaign is 3-5%. And that’s just a baseline; utilising search engine marketing services from a marketing agency may be able to further move the needle for your business and boost conversion rates.

Potential for Quick Results

Potential for Quick Results

Making your way to Page 1 of a Google or Bing SERP through organic content marketing works, but it takes time and effort – more than 100 days in many cases.

As you build out your organic content, SEM can provide some immediate help to your website in the way of generating traffic. Search engine marketing is not a substitute for organic SEO; however, it can be an effective way to support the early phases of your internet marketing efforts as you try to increase traffic and awareness.

Brand Awareness

Brand Awareness

Paid ads are still the very first listings users see as they scroll through Page 1 of SERPs. The high placement means you can attract users with search intent relevant to your business or keywords.

This exposure can help build brand awareness by as much as 80% in some cases, according to Google. Just remember to keep in mind that non-paid search results on the first half of Page 1 SERPS regularly see CTRs of 50% or higher, which means you’ll need to balance your channel efforts.

Shortcuts to Product Pages

Shortcuts to Product Pages

Major search engines like Google and Bing provide PPC ads for shoppers that appear toward the top of a SERP. With one click, a user who interacts with your ad is directed to your product or service landing page. How’s that for a competitive advantage?

For B2B and B2C brands that sell directly through their site or through other online marketing places, paid shopping ads provide a quick and easy shortcut to the online point of sale.

Promotion for Local Services

Promotion for Local Services

More than 30% of all searches have local intent. For local services such as plumbing, landscaping and event planning, listing near the top of results could make the difference between business going to them or to a competitor.

Google offers Local Service Ads that local-services businesses can use to rank higher in search results. Unlike paid search, publishers pay for lead generation, not for clicks. Leads count as phone calls, messages or bookings made through the ad.

How does SEM work?

How Does SEM Work?

Search engine management involves a bidding process in which publishers compete to list for search queries.



For Google’s Search Network, ad publishers bid for space based on the maximum amount they’re willing to pay for a click. Ad quality also factors in. Here’s the secret sauce for how Google determines which CPC ads to display:

It multiplies the maximum bid by a Quality Score. The QS is based on the page’s relevance to the keywords used in the search query, the CTR of the page, past ad performance on that page and overall performance of the page.

The resulting score is the Ad Rank. Only pages that meet the Ad Rank Threshold are considered for display in a search query.

Finally, Google decides the order of the ads to post based on Ad Rank. The ad with the highest ranking takes the No. 1 spot.

It’s important to note that because Quality Score is a factor, the highest bidder is not necessarily the winner.

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Local Service Ads

Local Service Ads

Service-based businesses that sign up for Local Service Ads determine a weekly budget for their ads in advance.

Unlike PPC marketing services, publishers pay per lead, which is a phone call or message. Cost per lead varies based on the type of job and the local market. There is no bidding process. Instead, Google automatically determines which ads to post based on the following factors:

  • Proximity to the searcher’s location.
  • Business hours.
  • Number of reviews and the score of those reviews.
  • Responsiveness to customer enquiries and requests.
  • Any complaints about the business.

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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) vs. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The main difference between search engine optimisation (SEO) and SEM is that the former is unpaid.

SEO relies on organic, unpaid content to improve online visibility. This mainly includes optimising website copy with technical SEO metrics and keyword research to reach a target audience. SEO also involves off-page optimisation through social media marketing (like for Twitter or Facebook), email marketing, backlink strategies and other off-site tactics.

Without a strong SEO strategy, SEM can end up costing more money. This is because of the important role that QS plays in determining CPC.

Optimising your landing pages to rank for certain keywords is therefore critical to supporting PPC strategies and reducing costs.

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The main difference between
search engine optimisation
(SEO) and SEM is that the
former is unpaid.

Why Brafton for SEM?

Why Brafton for SEM?

Brafton is a full-service digital marketing agency that can take the reins on your SEM strategy and PPC management. Our PPC strategists can help you through every phase of executing SEM, including:

  • Setting goals for what you want to achieve through your paid campaign.
  • Strategising how to best use that spend.
  • Setting up SEM campaigns.
  • Making recommendations for how to lower CPC while improving impressions; for instance, by optimising your ad’s landing page and conducting a local SEO audit.
  • Crafting short-form ad copy that can improve CTR.
  • Measuring KPIs such as impressions, CTR, bounce rate, conversions and other metrics.
  • Adjusting the strategy based on findings.

Here’s how SEM services at Brafton work:

Step 1: Meet your team

When you begin working with Brafton on your SEM campaigns and strategy, you’ll get a dedicated team, including a PPC strategist, project manager and content marketing strategist.

Step 2: Define your goals

This team will work with you to define your goals and KPIs, and the best ways to leverage SEM to achieve them.

Step 3: Plan your strategy

The ad networks that will work best for you depend on your industry, target audience, goals and more. We’ll collaborate with you to find the best strategy for your organisation. Some of the tactics we use include:

  • Display ads (e.g. Google Display Network)
  • Retargeting (e.g. Adroll)
  • Paid text ads (e.g. Google Ads – formerly Adwords – or Bing Ads)
  • Shopping campaigns (e.g. Amazon Advertising or Google Shopping Campaign)
  • Paid content syndication (e.g. Taboola or Outbrain)

Step 5: Analyse and improve

Our PPC management services include monthly monitoring and management of your paid search campaigns. We’ll show you how your strategy is working and make suggestions for how to improve based on performance data and research.

We will also recommend the SEO services that can help support your SEM campaigns by driving organic traffic to your website, thus improving your QS.

We’ll make sure you get what you pay for, and then some.

Click here for better CPC campaigns.

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