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The terms such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are quite confusing for most who are new to the websites and their promoting strategies. Both would sound similar to you, but there is a difference. SEO is one of the marketing techniques of SEM. One may say that SEO is the subset of SEM. SEM is a broader term which also involves other strategies for getting better page rankings.

Furthermore, Search Engine Marketing is itself a subset of the overall Internet Marketing Strategy. The key goal is to extend the visibility in search engines through getting free/organic traffic (SEO) and paid traffic (paid search advertising). Following are the common strategies that most marketers prefer in order to promote their brands:

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Yes, it is possible that you pay for the advertising space through the advertising agency, such as Google AdWords, and let your Ads appear at the top of the Google search results. Then you pay only for the number of clicks you get on your Ads. This means that a person must actually click on your Ad. This is known as Pay Per Click or PPC. You may also make your Ad appear on a third party website or a blog to whom you will have to pay if clicks are made (directly on your advertisement) by the visitors of those third party web page(s). This is the perspective of the advertisers who intend to do the marketing and sell their products/services.

AdWords service is meant for the advertisers who want to sell their goods/services and are willing to pay money in order to get users to their own website for the purchase.

Now I’ll explain through the perspective of a publisher who owns a site or a blog, and allows the advertisers to show their Ads in the space provided. When a random individual clicks on the publisher’s site and then on a particular advertisement, the publisher is going to get the compensation for this particular action by the advertiser. This is called Cost Per Click or CPC. The advertisements will only appear if the publisher makes particular settings. Although, the publisher/site’s owner won’t be allowed to click on those Ads themselves. The CPC is not a fixed price, but varies depending on the brand that attempts to promote itself, its popularity, and other factors. Everything is constantly investigated and adjusted by the experts.

Google AdSense is meant for publishers who run a website(s) and are willing to show third party Ads on their website in order to get a fractional part of the total revenue with the help of those Ads. The publishers are not responsible for choosing what advertisement ought to be displayed. It is entirely managed by the Google.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)

Mille is a Latin term for thousand, and hence, it directly implies for cost per thousand impressions. You have a set of keywords that bring the traffic into your website. The Google’s job is to bring it on its list if you are already done with the SEM and you will pay in terms of “per 1000 impressions”. The Impression is nothing but showing up your website by the search engine. For instance, if you pay $2 for the CPM then it would directly imply that you will pay for every thousand impressions for your Ad. You won’t have to pay if it does not reach the mark of 1000.

You might be thinking that all the marketers want to promote their products/services and willing to do whatever it takes (including the payment), so how is that possible that only a few advertisements show up at the top, and others don’t? Following are the other points you will need to keep in mind while you plan to promote your brand:

1. Landing Pages – This is one of the successful SEM campaigns. It implies to a standalone website, specifically crafted by marketers to ultimately have an end goal of getting potential visitors who would browse in their site and likely become converted customers. These pages would then lead, those who clicked on to it, to the site’s main page. The most common examples include – signing up for an eBook/whitepaper, coupon, voucher, webinar registration, and so on.

2. Keyword Research – Keywords are really crucial if you really want to stand out amongst all the competitors. You must know what the latest searched keywords are. Check the list of your competitors by using Google toolbar and see what keywords they are using that are making them the most searched among all. View the page source of the site and see what they have written under the sections “meta description” and “keywords”. You may add these to your list if you find them relevant for your users to search for. Do NOT blindly use them all.

3. Structure your hierarchy – You must know what you are doing with your SEM strategies and for that, it is best if you categorize your task using the top-down approach. This will include Ad Campaign, Ad groups, Ad text, keywords, and landing pages. This magnifies the efficiency.

4. Ad Auction – Take an example from Google AdWords. This is how it works –

The advertisers have a list of predetermined keywords that they bid on. They have to check whether these predetermined keywords would match with the keywords the users type in the search bar as their search query. The keywords are placed in an auction where these willing advertisers bid for paying based on the pay per click. If the predetermined keywords exactly match the keywords users query for, the adverts are served up. The advertisers are willing to pay more, but another factor is important as well, which is none other than the overall quality of your Ad. So, your bid cannot exceed a certain limit, if your estimates were near average and the quality of your advertisement isn’t up to the mark. Conversely, if you do not bid much amount of money, despite the presence of the most relevant predetermined keywords, but the quality of your Ads is outstandingly great then it is a huge plus!

5. Quality Score – The more you earn your quality score, the more you will likely be placed alongside the search engine results. It is determined in terms of your score via Click Through Rate (CTR, meaning users actually clicked on your link if they saw it on the search engine result page), the relevance of your site’s contents, keywords’ estimation, your bidding, and the landing page. Those who have lower quality rank, but paid more money would not be given much importance than those who have the best scores in terms of overall quality but paid very little.

This is how Search Engine Marketing needs to be accomplished in general. Finally, when you have your customers who want to try your products, it is the overall working and the quality of the products and services that matter. Your products obviously need to be outstanding, otherwise, you are going to get the negative reviews, and so you will lose them just as fast as you had them.