June 13, 2024

Search engine marketing is essential for your business. But what exactly is search engine marketing? How do you achieve it? This guide will teach you the following:

What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM), a form of digital marketing, uses search engines to drive more traffic to your site.

Industry experts often use SEM to discuss pay-per-click advertising (PPC). SEM can also include paid marketing and organic search engine optimization (SEO).

Let’s get this out of the way.


The primary difference between SEO and SEO is that SEO is focused on getting organic traffic from search engines such as Google. In contrast, SEM is focused on using both organic and paid methods.

SEO is included in the SEM umbrella.


SEM and PPC Advertising are different in that PPC only deals with buying ad placements on search engines, while SEM can also include SEO.

It’s essential to have a comprehensive SEM strategy, which includes SEO and PPC ads. This will ensure that you don’t lose money.

But how can you do this?

Three steps to create an SEM strategy

To build a cohesive SEM strategy, you must determine which keywords to target via SEO, PPC, or both. The choice of approach depends on several factors, which we will discuss shortly.

This is your first step if you still need to do keyword research.

Our comprehensive keyword research guide explains how you can do this. If you need a quick way of finding keywords, enter some broad topics in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. The Matching Terms report will be generated.

If you have a website about fashion, for example, you might enter broad topics such as “fashion,” “hoodies”, and “shirts.”

You can then sort through the ideas to find anything with a decent search volume that customers are likely searching for.

Once you have keywords, use the decision tree to determine whether to target them via SEO, PPC, or both.

Let’s take a closer look at this process.

Are you looking for buyers or learners?

Are you able to rank anywhere soon?

Are there many clicks on the ads?

Question 1. Are you looking for people to buy or learn?

This question is about analyzing the keyword’s search intention. You are looking for one of the two types of searches:



Analyzing the SERPs for informational and commercial intent will help you determine what type of keyword you are searching for. Also, is the keyword being searched for informational or commercial purposes?

Let’s take, for example, the keyword “fashionable shoes.”

We can see that the majority of SERP results have sneaker recommendations.

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