SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

When you use a search engine to display the results of your question (for example – when you type a question into Google – and what is listed on the screen after you press enter), there will be some results that aren’t ‘naturally’ there – but are branded as ‘Advertisement’.


Paid Placement in Google

Go to Google, and search for a product or service, such as “doctor in my area” – or something similar.

On your screen – you’ll see the advertisements (3 of them) across the top, as they must pay for that position in the search results.  Before you ask, the price varies wildly.  Some searches are relatively inexpensive – due to the low average search volume and low level of competition.  Some search terms are HIGHLY competitive (such as real estate agents, lawyers, and doctors), and have a very high search volume – so the price skyrockets accordingly.  If you could be the #1 lawyer in search engines, you have a much higher chance of being clicked on.  As the metrics show, nearly 60% of clicks from search engine results go to one of the first 3 “organic” websites listed.

Wait… What does Organic mean?


Search results are broken out into several separate categories, but I’ll only explain the top three in this book.  The categories are established to explain what type of ‘link’ a search engine result is displaying.



An organic link is the most natural way to draw in website visitors, and takes the longest to establish.  When your website shows up towards the top of search engine results – it is the result of a lot of hard work, length of time the website has been online, and many, MANY other factors.  Since the website took a lot of work to show up ‘organically’ – it also takes a long time for the link to disappear once the work is stopped.  If you stop working on search engine optimization (see previous chapter) – the link will remain in place for quite a while, instead of dropping off the face of the planet overnight. These links are very ‘honorable’ links, and when shown in search results – they let the person viewing the search results know that the link they are about to click on is legitimate, and isn’t trying to ‘fool’ someone into visiting their website.  All organic results are subject to the rules and ‘regulations’ of the search engine itself – so in Google’s case, if you’ve ranked highly on their website – you’ve gained a token of respect from them – and they’ve brought your website higher in their ranks.



These links are based on a reference from another source.  Either a paid advertisement link, a link from a social network, or an advertisement on a third-party website.  This link is based on the amount of worth you can find in the “linking source” material.  Imagine you want to pay for a link on your local newspaper website for your services.  Chances are, you’re going to get some response for your advertisement – and you’ll get some clicks onto your website due to the advertisement being clicked on.  The cost that you will pay can be based on how many people view your advertisement (brand awareness strategy), or how many click to visit your website (PPC – Pay-per-click).  Again, these values depend on the amount of traffic to either the third-party website, the number of followers you have on social networks, or the amount of traffic from the search engine for any search ‘phrase’.   Referral links don’t usually last very long – and usually fade into the background after a short period.  Any traffic generated from the source will also fade away.  For any paid advertisement, the amount of traffic you acquire from the advertisement will (obviously) disappear once you retire the advertisement, or it has run its course.  Paid advertisements in search engines usually take up the first three results – but many people have become aware that the first results are advertisements, and skip right past them to the ‘actual’ (organic) search results.



When you share a link to another person, or they type in your domain name into a browser, this is considered a direct visitor.  The link they click, or the address they type in, are a direct method of visiting your website – since browsers can’t “see” the source of the traffic initially.  After the visitor ‘lands’ on your website, the visitor can then be tracked as they view your content – moving from page to page.  Direct links don’t have any ‘shelf-life’ – and do not relate to search engines.


Google Adwords

A separate form of advertising that can reach outside the bounds of the search engine – and can be presented on other websites, is Google AdWords.  In order to create an account, you will go to and create your free account.  You’ll be able to research keyword search volume, review how much a ‘click’ will cost your company, and many other metrics that will be invaluable to your company.  But, as the interface can be a little confusing – you could end up spending quite a lot on advertising using this method.  Since you pay two-fold, on a pay-per-click campaign – or through an ‘impression’ campaign – you could end up burning through a majority of your advertising campaign without any sort of target audience in place.


Pay-per-Click (PPC) Ads

If you only want to direct people to your website, you can focus on exactly what you’d like to pay for a person to click on your advertisement – and then set a budget for your advertising campaign.  Note: If you click your own ad, you are spending your own money!  If you can’t see where you can test your ad before launching your campaign, and make sure that it works – don’t click too many times, as you could essentially eat up your entire budget.  When a potential visitor sees your advertisement in Google, and they click on the advertisement –  you are paying the current rate for that single click.  Rates are available in Google AdWords’ dashboard when you build your ad campaign, so there shouldn’t be any surprises in cost per click.

If your business is in a low competition, low volume industry – each click might hover around $0.10 cost to your budget.  In a highly competitive, high search-volume industry – you might run across clicks that cost above $50 each time someone clicks on your advertisement!

When you establish a budget for your campaign, it might be a good idea to start researching your ‘conversion rate’ of your website, along with your average profit per customer, so that you can establish what your return on investment (ROI) will be during the campaign.  I mean, it doesn’t make much sense to invest $1000 in Google AdWords per month if the outcome would be to sell ten more goldfish.  On the other hand, if you are in real estate – $1000 per month could equal another house sold at a $5000 net profit, which you could then invest in more Google AdWords campaigns!


Impression-Based Ads

If your business is just starting, and you’re not sure you need to get a bunch of random people to your website – you might consider advertisement that is called “Impression-Based” advertising.  The sole purpose of this type of ad, is that you want the advertisement to hit as many eyeballs during a course of a week or two.  Traditionally, an example would be a 30-second TV spot – which would serve over the course of a seven-day spread – equally to as many people as possible.  The cost of this sort of advertisement is based on ‘inventory’, so with Google as an example – you could target the same high volume keywords – but would have to ‘outbid’ the next person.  Another example of this type of advertising will be covered in the “Third-Party” section below.


Facebook Ads

The whole experience with advertising on Facebook has changed throughout the years, but recently – the interface that you use has been improved to provide help hints, tips, tricks and even allows you to boost posts to gain more viewers.  Each step of the way you’ll see helpful hints that will get you to spend more money at Facebook, but they provide the numbers that you need to see to make an educated decision.  If you don’t have the budget to advertise on Facebook – I’m not so sure you’d have enough budget for any of the other options above!  It’s inexpensive, and you can start very small with your campaign.  The options to advertise to a targeted market is also extremely helpful!


Other Sources (Third-Party)

If you choose to advertise on a newspaper website, blog, video posting website (i.e. YouTube), there are a variety of options to choose from –  but most of the above options will work until you start to get into video advertising, as you’ll have to create the content (video) that will run on their service.

Newspaper ads usually have you build an advertisement (or they will have their creative department develop some ‘creative’ for you), but I would say that the most successful advertisements come from your own company.  If someone you know can help you, or at least be a ‘sounding board’ for your advertisement ideas, you’ll be ahead of the curve.


How do I make an Ad?

Come up with a goal in advance, and create the ‘pitch’ (what are you trying to say?) for the advertisement.  Start with a 300 pixel wide by 250 pixel tall space on your computer – which is nearly the same ratio as a piece of printer paper – and create your ad.


Helpful Hints

Don’t make the text too small – as at a smaller size on a screen, it might become illegible.

Use bright colors if they match your branding – just don’t be obnoxious.

If your overall goal is to be obnoxious, use several contrasting bright colors that will attempt to give your potential visitors a migraine.

Some advertising sources (newspapers, blogs) might allow you to use some basic animation, such as two or three ‘slides’ – served as a single, looping, animated ad.  This can help to collect eyeballs, and draw people into clicking on your advertisement.

Use animation sparingly, and don’t get too complex – as you want to leave the potential visitor asking for more information.  If your entire sales pitch is in the ad itself, you don’t need to have them click the link for more information – and you’ve lost out on the reason for the advertisement in the first place.

A good rule of thumb for a great ad, is to have it ask a question that you know they must click to get the answer.