What is SEM

What is search engine marketing (SEM)?

The search engine is now the linchpin in the World Wide Web. In addition to e-mail communication, web searches are by far the most dominant application on the Internet. Those who want to find information, products or services on the Internet usually use appropriate providers such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. Conversely, this means: Web content that does not appear in the results lists of these search engines is simply not noticed by the majority of Internet users. It is therefore of great interest, especially for internet-based business models such as online shops, to position yourself prominently in the search results and thus generate as many website visitors as possible. The visibility in the search engine can be optimized through various search engine marketing (SEM) measures. An established definition of SEM is the following from the Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft (BVDW):

"Search engine marketing includes all measures to attract qualified visitors via search results pages in search engines".

As a sub-area of ​​online marketing, SEM thus includes both the placement of paid advertisements in the search engine (SEA = Search Engine Advertising) as well as all steps of search engine optimization (SEO = Search Engine Optimization) aimed at a better ranking in the organic search results.

How does SEM work?

Search engine marketing in the form of SEA and SEO is nowadays the most important online marketing channel. One reason for this is that SEM enables a fundamentally different approach to advertising than conventional online marketing channels. While display advertising, email marketing or social media advertising as well as offline advertising as 'Push' strategies can be described, SEM is done as 'Pull' marketing. Instead of being confronted with unsolicited advertising messages, as is the case with conventional marketing, through which a still unknown product is to be “pushed”, the customer searches for specific information in Google inquiries such as “buy shoes” or “order food” - the intention to buy something or to use a service already exists. Correspondingly, corresponding advertising is understood as useful information - unlike other forms of advertising. Marketing measures in the search engine are therefore ascribed significantly lower wastage than classic online marketing channels.

Search engine marketing via Google, Bing and Co.

In most countries, the search engine market is dominated by a single provider. The global leader in the industry is the Californian company Google, which has one in Germany Market share of well over 90 percent owns. Competitors like Yahoo and Bing are on the verge of insignificance in view of this monopoly position. Search engine marketing in Germany therefore primarily focuses on measures that influence visibility in Google search results. The Microsoft product Bing is more relevant on the American market, where 10 to 30 percent of search queries are processed via this search engine, depending on the sources. Russia and the People's Republic of China also have a special status, in which country-specific search engines such as Yandex and Baidu have established themselves as market leaders. In the rest of the world, however, these do not play a role.

What's the difference between SEA and SEO?

As sub-areas of search engine marketing, search engine advertising (SEA) and search engine optimization (SEO) have the common goal of attracting more visitors to the website to be optimized, but they use fundamentally different measures and instruments. While SEA focuses on paid advertisements that are optically highlighted and delivered together with the search results of a web search, SEO strategies focus on various levers that can be used to optimize the ranking of a website in the organic web search. Search engine optimization therefore focuses on search results, which cannot be directly influenced by the advertising budget, but are created on the basis of an algorithm geared towards relevance.

Search engine marketing through search engine advertising (SEA)

Due to the dominance of the Google search engine, search engine advertising occurs for most Internet users in Germany primarily in the form of the Google product AdWords in appearance. With many search terms, Internet users receive advertisements specially tailored to the keywords used in addition to the normal search result list. These appear visually highlighted as an indicator on the right-hand side of the browser window as well as before and after the results of the organic search. Since companies spend a lot of money on this type of marketing, search advertising is the basic source of income for most search engines. Google alone generates more than 95 percent of its sales from AdWords revenues. However, the company does not charge any fees for simply displaying an ad in search results. This type of marketing only incurs costs when an Internet user actually clicks on the advertisement and thus arrives at the advertiser's website. The resulting costs are not fixed, but come from you Auction process conditions. Whether and how present an ad appears in the web search, however, is not measured solely on the basis of the bid amount of the advertiser. In order to provide users with results that are as relevant as possible when advertising is shown, the order of the ads is also determined by the so-called Quality score certainly.

Search engine marketing through search engine optimization (SEO)

If website owners want to be present not only as an advertiser in the search engine, but also to get a good place in the organic search, much more comprehensive measures must be taken than with search engine advertising. These are summarized under the term search engine optimization (SEO). A distinction is made between on-page optimization, in which your own website is designed in such a way that it can be easily read by search engines, and off-page optimization, which primarily uses the methods of link marketing.

  • On-page SEO measures: Optimization of the website content in terms of information quality, keyword optimization and presentation as well as the technical adaptation to a search engine-friendly page structure including headers, HTML tags and internal links
  • Offpage SEO measures: Optimization of the incoming links of a website from a quantitative and qualitative point of view in the sense of a search engine-optimized backlink profile as well as the promotion of the presence in social networks through so-called social signals

How sustainable is search engine marketing?

Compared to other online marketing channels, search engine optimization becomes a great advantage in terms of business sustainability attributed to. While search engine marketing via advertising only brings benefits as long as advertisers provide budget for the fade-ins, SEO optimizations in the on- and off-page area win new customers long after the actual investment for a website. If a page has positioned itself well in the organic search as a result of an SEO optimization, this ensures a stable flow of visitors even years later. On the other hand, site visits can only be generated via the marketing channels SEA or display advertising as long as advertisements are placed.

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