Complete Guide to Search Engine Marketing

Overview of Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Hello! And welcome to our introduction to search engine marketing, or SEM course. In this step by step guide we’re going to be talking about how SEM works, and more importantly, what makes it different in marketing, and why it’s so effective.

You’re probably already familiar with search engine marketing or paid advertising, even if you don’t know how it works. Let’s say you search for something like ‘’Digital Marketing’’. You’ll get full of options on the search engine results page. Let’s take a closer look at those results.

The results you see in the main part of the page are called “organic” results. It costs nothing to appear here. This is the place where search engines show sites they think have the most relevant content. Now look at the right side and the top of the page. See those results? These listings are paid ads.

SEM lets you use this space to advertise to potential customers when they search for relevant to your business. These are known as keywords.

Another unique thing to know about SEM is the advertiser only pays when someone clicks on their ad. So if your ad appears, but no one comes on it, you won’t be charged.

Yes, you heard that right! That’s why it’s also called “pay-per-click” advertising.

How Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Works

You probably know that search engine marketing is a great way to advertise to people at the right time – when they’re searching for your products or services. But do you know how it works?

Search engines limit the number of slots adverts can appear in on a result page. Advertisers then compete in an auction to appear in those slots.

The adverts that “win”  the auction appear in more desirable slots on the results page – usually that means near the top. The others appear in lower slots. Alright, you’re probably surprised: how does this auction work? Well, like most auctions, you choose a bid, which impacts your performance in the auction. But it’s not only all about your bid. 

In this auction, the relevance of your ads is important as well. So, success in the auction means having a competitive bid, as well as pretty relevance. Getting both of these right is the key for success in SEM.

Let’s take a look at both of these factors, starting with the bids in the auction. The price you’re willing to pay for a click is often called your maximum cost per click, or Max CPC

Keep in mind: you can change your Max CPCs at any time, so you’ll have to keep an eye on your bids regularly to ensure you’re getting the performance you want.

But as you see earlier, there’s more to the auction than just the bids. The other big factor for winning the auction is relevance. This is a measure—normally go from 1 to 10—of how closely your ad relevance to what a person searched for. Search engines such as Google refer to this as your Quality Score.

Think of it this way. When you and your competing businesses have equal bid prices, the business with a higher Quality Score will appear higher on the search results page. One of the best ways you can improve your performance in SEM is to regularly review your campaigns to find better ways to become more relevant. 

Make sure that your adverts always closely match the words that people have just searched for. By doing this, you can get better positions for your ads, without paying more money.

Search Engine Marketing With Google Ads

Before you start marketing with Google Ads, you should learn about each element of the account and options you can use to optimize your marketing campaigns. There is a need to fully understand the Ads account structure. Not only will this help you organize your campaign, but it will also help you grasp how Google Ads program works and how to create and manage effective campaigns. 

There are three steps that make up the AdWords program and they represent different levels of the account.


One Adwords account is associated with an email address, a password and billing information. Even though you can allow other users to access your account, clicking account access settings, one account is always linked to a single email address which is called primary.


After access in your account, you can create campaigns. Each campaign has its own options and budget, which helps you determine how much you are going to spend on that particular campaign, as well as where and when your ad is going to appear. 

Creating different campaigns is recommended if you have a variety of products or services you want to advertise. And as well as if you want to use different options to optimize the reach for different ads. For example, if you are a clothing brand, you would create different campaigns for women’s, men’s and kid’s clothes. In this case, you should separate the types of products so that you can employ different campaign options in order to optimize the campaign and maximize your click through rate. 

In each campaign you can create a certain number of ad groups. 

Ad Group

An ad group is a group of similar or related ads and keywords. An ad group helps you focus on different products inside a certain sagement. For example, if you have created separate campaigns for different types of clothing, you would promote a single type of clothing inside an ad group. If the campaign was designed to promote men’s clothes, you would create ad groups for clothes like trousers, T-shirts, handbags, etc.

When you create an ad group, you have to choose a list of keywords (your potential customers are searching for) that are related to the ads or the ad group. 

Even though an AdWords account allows you to create a larger number of campaigns, ad groups and ads, a general recommendation is to create campaigns with several ad groups. Each ad group should have between three to four ads and you should target between 10 and 35 keywords per ad group. Google recommends using this structure as it is much easier to handle and manage your account, if you have a simple structure. This easy to use structure will allow you to quickly navigate through the account and monitor the performance of your ad. 

Get The Most From Your Search Engine Marketing Ads

Have you ever noticed when you search for something online, most of the ads that you see in the search results look similar? In this search engine marketing guide, we’ll help your business stand out by showing you how to write eye-catching ads, compelling headlines and clear calls to action.

Choose The Right Keyword

In search engine marketing (SEM), you pay every click on your ad. So you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

But before you start your first campaign, you won’t be able to measure the value your selected keywords are generating. So how can you find those keywords before adding them to your campaign? 

Well, you have a few different ways here. The first thing to ask yourself is: is this keyword relevant? Or in other words, does this keyword closely define your products or services?

Try to focus on keywords that are relevant to your business, and you’ll get more success going forward. Another factor to consider is how much traffic a selected keyword is likely to get.

Keyword research tools like “keyword planner” can provide traffic estimates to help you get a handle on this. But in reality, you’ll probably have to use a bit of trial and error to figure out which keywords are relevant and get enough traffic.

Now you know how important relevance and traffic are to selecting good keywords, let’s move on to one more important factor to determine if your keywords are good or not. Quite simple, you’re going to want to consider the competition your keyword has. Think about it: if a keyword is relevant, and gets enough traffic, your competitors are more likely to be using it too.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use it in your campaign. But you can look for keywords where the relevance and traffic is high, and competition relatively low.

So, when you’re selecting which keywords you want to use in your ad campaigns you’re going to want to remember relevance, traffic potential and competition.

It’s a bit of a balancing work, but keeping in mind these three factors can set your ad campaign off to the right start. Be sure to monitor your keywords closely – if you do, you’ll quickly know about what’s working, and then you can make improvements as you move forward.

Keyword Match Types

In order to fully understand how keywords work, you should also understand the keyword match types. And learning about different match types can increase your control over which searches trigger your ads. This can help you reach your target audience and increase the efficiency of your ads, in order to maximize the potential of your ad campaign. However, choosing different match types may limit your campaign and thus have a negative effect on its performance. This is why you have to monitor  your keywords closely and find out which matching option produces best results. 

  • Broad Match: This option is set by default when you create a campaign. Broad match is recommended when you do not want to invest a lot of time in creating a list of exact match keywords. Here your ad will appear in the searches including synonyms, relevant variations and misspelled words. If you use broad match in your campaign, you should use negative keywords to avoid your ad being shown in the irrelevant searches.
  • Broad Match Modifier: If you want to use a modifier, you should use the plus sign on your keyboard (+) before the keyword. For example:

you can type “+ keyword.” 

When you choose the broad match modifier type, your ad will not be shown for synonyms or related searches. Instead, it will only appear when a search query consists of modified words or phrases you specified in the campaign settings.

  • Phrase Match: Choosing a phrase match option allows you to target users who are searching for the exact keyword or phrase. Your ad will also reach people who are searching the keyword or phrase with additional words before or after the exact keyword. You should use quotation marks(“type your keyword”) for the phrase you want to use in the phrase match.

If you use a phrase such as “Digital Marketing Course”, your ad will be shown to the users who are searching for this phrase, as well as to the users who type “Free Digital Marketing Course” or “Digital Marketing Course for Beginners”.

  • Exact Match: Exact match type is used when you want the ad to appear only when someone searches for the exact keyword. In this case You should surround the keyword with brackets, for example [SEO Course]. With the exact match option, your ad will only appear when the users type the exact phrase or word.

You should use this match type if you want to closely target your ads, but keep in mind that this will significantly reduce the number of users who will get to see your ad. 

  • Negative Match: Negative match is used when you want to prevent your ad from showing up for certain terms or phrases. Use a minus sign (-) before the words you want to exclude. You should be careful when choosing the negative match, as you should only exclude the keywords when you are completely certain that you do not want to show your ad for those searches.

 You should also have in mind that your ad might appear for synonyms or other variations of the negative match keyword. 

Understanding the difference between these keyword match types is important as those allow you to control who will be able to see your ad. While a broad match will show your ad when people search the actual word, as well as misspelled word, phrase match will only show your ad when the actual keyword is searched for. Ultimately, choosing the relevant match type will help you improve your ROI or as well as conversion rate. 

Make your ads stand out

Have you ever noticed when you search for something online, most of the ads that you see in the search results look pretty similar?

There are also lots of organic results—the results in the centre of the page— competing for your attention.

You can think how easy it is for your ad to get lost here, which is why it’s really important to create unique ads that stand out from the competition.

So how can you take your ad to the next level, and make it “more eye-catching?” There are a few simple guidelines you can follow to improve your ads across the board. 

Let’s start with relevance. Relevance is the name of the need in search engine marketing. Try and write your ads headline to match the searcher’s query as closely as possible.

If you want to be sure to show up in search results for the particular search, just use it for the ad’s headline: Now, when someone searches for this keyword, your ad will perfectly match what they’re searching for.

So what other ways can make your ad stand out from the crowd? How about some kind of unique, timely offer or promotion you use ?

If you’re running a sale, or have a special offer the customer can take advantage of, that’s a really easy way to grab attention. Let’s take your first description line, and update it with a special offer. 

This already looks a lot more exciting, and gives the customer a clear reason to click on to your website. The last thing you use is a strong, clear “call to action” in your ad. In other words, tell visitors what you want them to do when they click on your ad. 

It’s a good idea to include this as the second line of your advert, so the searcher knows exactly what to do after they get to your site.

Looks better doesn’t it? The new headline is far more relevant to the search. We have an exciting special offer or discount, and a clear call to action. This new advert is much more likely to grab the customer’s attention to your website. 

So what have we learned?

Using a few simple tips can help your ads stand out from the competition. First, you want to customise your campaign headline to the search. Then include a special or local offer. And finally, give a clear call to action.

Focus on these guidelines over the long run, and you’re likely to see success.

Measure Your Success

So you’ve got some online advertising campaigns up and running and you want to find out how they’re working?

One of the best things about search engine marketing is that you can measure the value you’re getting from your campaigns. To do this, you track conversions – the key actions you want your website visitors to take.

Let’s start with how you choose the conversions to track. Say you have a travel agency who sells or books tickets online. What types of actions might be considered as “conversions” on your website?

Obviously, booking a ticket is an important one. But what else might you want website visitors to do?

Well, your website should have a Contact form so potential visitors can ask you questions about your best trip. When someone submits an inquiry through this form you can track that as a conversion too.

So how can you actually track those conversions? Well, you can use tools like Google Analytics provided by Google. 

Let’s go back to the “travel agency” example. You want to track booked tickets from your website, so you need to figure out the proper place for the conversion tracking code. You can’t place the code on your homepage—if you do that, you’ll be counting conversions every time someone visits your site or homepage.

Instead, you would install the conversion tracking code on the booking confirmation page. That’s the page customers see after they book a ticket. That way, you measure a conversion that happened. Next, you decide to track form inquiries. Just like the previous example, you need to install the conversion tracking code on a page the visitor sees only after they fill up the form. For example, on the page that thanks the customer after they’ve booked a ticket.

Make sense? In order to properly track conversions, you need to install the code to pages someone will only see after they’ve taken the action you want. Once you attach the code, you’ll start getting reports that tell you how many conversions you got. That’s valuable information will help you in figuring out how your ad campaigns are working. 

By using tools like Google Analytics, you can measure online conversions and set yourself up for success. Know more about analytics.

Today Internet connects businesses and customers worldwide. But if you’re a local shop, you’ll want to reach people nearby. In the next chapter (Get Noticed Locally) we’ll cover what “local” means online, how your business can be found by people that are near to your physical shop, and why local marketing and mobile are a match made in heaven.


Complete Digital Marketing Course

Chapter 1. Digital Marketing Overview

Chapter 2. Introduction To Search Engine Optimisation

Chapter 2) A. Technical SEO

Chapter 2) B. On-Page SEO

Chapter 2) C. Link Building

Chapter 3. Search Engine Marketing, PPC

Chapter 4. Get Noticed Locally

Chapter 5. Social Media Advertising

Chapter 6. Advertising on Mobiles

Chapter 7. Intro to Content Marketing

Chapter 8. Connect Through Email

Chapter 9. Make the Most of Video

Chapter 10. Find Success with Analytics

Chapter 11. E-commerce Marketing

Chapter 12. Expand Worldwide


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