Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the process of increasing website traffic by purchasing favorable placement from search engine providers like Google and Bing. SEM is also referred to as Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising or Cost Per Click (CPC) advertising because clients are charged when a search engine visitor "clicks" on the advertisement.
The concept behind SEM is simple: when a consumer searches the Web through a search engine, they are actively looking for a product or service. Marketers understand that this means the searcher may very well be somewhere in the buying cycle, researching a product or service to try to satisfy an immediate or future need. This makes search engine results one of the best places for targeted advertisements.
Most search engines operate an "auction" system for advertising placement. The highest bidder receives the highest placement. On Google, "paid search" is noticeable above search results in a slightly "tinted" area of the page. The first ad listed is the highest bidder for the date and time of the search.
Search engines also permit clients to set a daily ad "budget." When an advertiser's daily budget is depleted, their ad stops displaying in the placement area.
Another big factor is search terms. Advertisers select the search terms that, if entered, will cause their ad to display. Numerous terms can be selected for each advertisement (and negative terms may also be selected to prevent ad display.) The search providers want clicks, and therefore, they attempt to display the most appropriate ads for the entered search terms.
Because of these nuances, and many others not described here, Search Engine Marketing can be a complicated process. The Think Network assists many of our clients with SEM ad set up and ongoing SEM management. Please let us know if we can assist you.