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What Is SEM?

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SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is the process of getting traffic to a site by buying ads in search engines.


 “Search Engine Marketing” was once used as a term encompassing both SEO (search engine optimization) and contextual advertising. Over time, the industry adopted the abbreviation SEM, referring exclusively to paid search.


A longer term search engine marketing is used for both SEO and SEM. The following are some of the most common terms that also apply to SEM:


  • Paid search ads


  • Paid search advertising


  • PPC (pay per click)


  • PPC (pay-per-call) - some ads, especially those aimed at mobile search users, are charged for the number of clicks that led to a direct call from a smartphone.


  • CPC (CPC)


  • CPM (cost per thousand impressions)


Most search ads are sold on a CPC / PPC basis, but some advertising options may also be sold on a CPM basis.



SEM for beginners


Google AdWords in many ways is the most popular paid search platform used by marketers, followed by Yandex for Russia and Bing Ads from Yahoo for other countries.


In addition, there are a number of “second-level PPC platforms”, as well as options for advertising PPC on the main social networks.


To find out more about the latest trend in contextual advertising, you need to get started on the main search engine marketing platforms:


  • Google: AdWords


  • Bing ads


  • Yahoo: Search Ads



Each platform offers its own instructions for getting started.


We can advise one more resource for beginners - this is Google's guide for AdWords users. True, the last update was in 2008, since the Google AdWords user interface has changed along with several features, but the guide is still useful to read.

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