Is SEM the Same as PPC? – Online Advertising For Beginners


From SEO to SEM to PPC, understanding the different options can help you determine the best approach for your organization. But how do you know which methods to choose and what do some of these terms mean? And is there really a difference between SEM and PPC?

No matter what else you want to accomplish, chances are your primary goal is to gain more customers. That can mean driving more traffic to your website or getting people to call you directly from a Google search. Let’s take a look at the basics of online advertising by looking at the relationship between SEM and PPC.

1. What is SEM?

SEM is short for Search Engine Marketing.

It used to be an umbrella term that included both SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC. However, the definition has since evolved.

Today, SEM is a marketing process that helps you generate more leads and conversions through purchasing ads on search engines.

Search engine advertising increases your company’s visibility can help you achieve specific goals. The most common terms associated with SEM include:

➤  Paid media advertising

➤  Paid search ads

➤  Google Ads or Google Adwords

➤  PPC (pay-per-click)

➤  CPC (cost-per-click)

➤  CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions)

Search ads work to raise the visibility of your small business on search pages so that customers searching for what your company has to offer will be able to find you online. As a result they are more likely to call you or visit your website and contact your business.

It is important to note that SEM generates leads and drives traffic to your website when people are searching for keywords related to your website by displaying paid ads for your business in search results.

Sometimes called paid media, SEM increases the chance a user will complete a desired action, called a conversion. Common conversions include

➤  A click on your website’s link.

➤  Filling out a contact form on your website.

➤  Calling a number in the ad itself or on your company’s website.

➤  It can even be a visit to your business itself.

2. What is PPC?

PPC is short for Pay-Per-Click advertising. In this approach, an advertiser pays a publisher when a user clicks an ad they see online.

Two of the most powerful and popular PPC advertising platforms are Google Ads and Facebook. Facebook advertising allows you to target your PPC efforts to specific audiences based on a number of different demographics.

Search ads such as those that appear at the top of Google or Bing search results are the most common forms of PPC advertising. Google Ads also has a host of other digital advertising options including display ads. Furthermore, their advertising platform allows you to add extensions such as location, call, and sitelink extensions.

3. What is the difference between SEM and PPC?

For people who are new to digital marketing and using search engine results, they may wonder about the difference between SEM and PPC. There is no real difference in these terms.

Search Engine Marketing utilizes PPC as a strategy. And while SEM often focuses on search engine result ranking, it also includes PPC because a PPC ad based on a specific set of keywords is what shows up in a user’s search results when they search for products or services that match those terms. Put simply, PPC is a type of SEM.

The reason many people think SEM and PPC are different is that they equate SEM with SEO marketing.

SEO used to be another type of SEM marketing. However, unlike PPC, which focuses on clicks, SEO places a stronger emphasis on content, so your small business website appears in organic (free) search results.

It’s different from PPC, and it is different from what SEM is used for in today’s digital marketing field.

Both SEM and PPC are part of a sound digital advertising strategy.

Developing an online advertising or PPC strategy can be overwhelming, especially if you are new to it. From banner ads to content marketing to social media, there are lots of options to appeal to your target audience.

Ultimately, your goal is to gain more revenue by attracting more customers to your small business, which means SEM strategies like PPC advertising can help.

Understanding what SEM is, and how it relates to PPC, can help you develop your online marketing strategy based on what you want to accomplish. With the right approach, you can boost your site’s visibility in search engine results, and you’ll be able to achieve your organizational goals in no time.

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