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SEO, or search engine optimization, uses organic search terms to help generate a higher number of visitors by appearing higher in search ranking. SEO is considered a component of search engine marketing and creates traffic through earned, unpaid listings. Search engine marketing, also known as SEM, is a highly effective way to grow your business. There are thousands of competitors out there so it’s critical to reach out via online advertisement.

What is SEM?

SEM refers to the practice of marketing via paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (SERPs). SEM is an umbrella term that encompasses paid search ads and pay-per-click ads. How it works is that advertisers bid on potential keywords so that the company has a chance of showing up on search engines such as Google and Bing.

This type of advertisement is also known as a pay-per-click (PPC) ad and can come in a variety of forms, including text-based or shopping ads. Shopping ads might feature images and detailed product information.

The Importance of Keywords

Keywords are the foundation of SEM. Users type in keywords into search engines, which in turn forms the basis of search engine marketing. There is a concept known as search intent, which helps you identify which keywords to search for and which to avoid (negative keywords). Negative keywords don’t mean that they’re conceptually bad, but rather they aren’t relevant to your search.

The Ad Auction

Before any ad appears in search results, it goes through a process known as the ad auction. It’s not always about how much money you have to spend (though it can help). The way it works is that every time someone enters a search query into a search engine, an advertiser will bid on how much it wants to spend per click to have the ad appear in the search results.

In the case of Google’s AdWords, the “winner” of the ad auction is determined by a combination of the maximum bid and the Quality Score of your ad. This metric is calculated as the ad rank. If the quality score is high, the lowest bidder could still potentially win the ad auction and appear first in the SERPs.

Focus on Your Specialties

In terms of keywords, if your business focuses on a specific area, such as 24-hour service, include that in your ad bid. The ad should focus on a bold landing page that creates a lot of movement—requesting a quote, entering contact information, etc.

Whether your San Diego company’s marketing strategy involves SEO or SEM (or a combination of the two), understanding some of the nuances of SEM will help advance the company and its goals.