SEM Basics for Modern Marketers

Search engines have two major functions:

Crawling and Indexing & Providing Answers

                                             Click here to go to reference

The first function of crawling and indexing, this process is the search engine attempting to find links that best match the search request and creating an index of results for the search user.

The second function determines relevance and popularity, this is more than what used to be matching search words with websites. Today, there are many factors that influence relevance, including users search history, items they’ve bought online, sites they have spent the most time at, etc. All these are known by the search engine through the use of cookies. What appears in a matter of seconds from a quick search is actually massive process.

“Search engines employ mathematical equations (algorithms) to sort the wheat from the chaff (relevance), and then to rank the wheat in order of quality (popularity).” –

Now that you have a better understanding of how search engines work, how can marketers use search engines to get to that glorious position on the first page of Google.


Click here for photo reference.

Well there are two Search Engine Marketing (SEM) techniques that can help. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC).

SEO follows a structured approach to gaining traffic to a website and the main advantages it has includes:

  • It is a significant traffic driver
  • Visitors who are actively searching for a term have high intent to purchase
  • No media costs or click-through costs, only optimisation costs
  • Updates and new content reflected quickly

The important approach with SEO is make the content that is shown on the search accurate to what content is on the website. Otherwise searchers will be misled and Google will not place the site high up on the index list.

PPC displays context as ads on search engines like Google in the top of the page but listed as sponsored. PPC generally costs more to use the SEO and although does have obvious results, it does not feel genuine to the search user. It does have some advantages like not costing until a person clicks on it and easier to use than SEO, but it is very competitive and often not relevant to the search.

What are your thoughts on SEO vs PPC? What technique do you think is more beneficial?

Comment below!


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